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Records of YMCA international work in Nigeria

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-34


Includes correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, maps, building development plans, journal and newspaper articles, and other records of the YMCA movement in Nigeria, primarily from the 1960s to the 1980s and focusing around the YMCA in Lagos and the Eruwa Camp site. This is also where most of the North American YMCA focus was oriented within the country of Nigeria and where the North American fraternal secretaries served while in Nigeria. Early correspondence discusses the creation of a multinational approach to the development of a Nigerian YMCA association. The associations involved in this included the United States and Canada, Britain and Germany. This early correspondence largely involves Alan Keys, Alex Goodall, J. Clark Ready, Egon Slopianka, Fritz Mast and T. L. Oyesina.

Much of the correspondence discusses the development of hostels, the lack of trained laymen, the slow progression of development within the Nigerian YMCAs and the ways that the Nigerian Civil War affected the progression of the YMCA in Nigeria. References to the establishment of Hi-Y clubs during this time are made and the development of the Eruwa Camp is prevalent within this material. The extrication of British YMCA secretary William Harte from Port Harcourt, a town within the Biafran territory, is a focal point of this time period within the collection, as is the establishment of indigenous secretary S. Nwachuku in his place.

Later correspondence discusses the reestablishment of Nigeria as a unified entity and the involvement of YMCA personnel in establishing relief projects that could help the citizens of Nigeria recover from civil war. Projects mentioned within this collection include the 1970 World Food Program sponsored by the United Nations, the Northern Nigeria Teacher Education Project founded by the University of Wisconsin and sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development; or USAID and Lagos USAID projects; such as the Nigeria YMCA Entrepreneur Education and Development Program. Also included in this collection are specifically Nigerian YMCA funded developmental projects such as the Camp Eruwa development project the Youth in Government Project and the Nigerian Development Management and Leadership Training Projects. Moses Perry, Cornelius Oloamo and Howard H. Kusterman are strongly featured in the correspondence within this project information as they were responsible for the development of much of it.


  • 1956-1995
  • Majority of material found within ( 1960s-1980s)


Language of Materials


Use of Materials:

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The first recorded information about the YMCA in Nigeria states that a number of YMCA church societies were formed in the early 1900s, such as one in the city of Kano in 1925. A YMCA in Lagos, called the "Central Club" was founded in 1944 by Reverend Davidson. Ogundiya and Pecku of the Lagos YMCA, while attending the West African YMCA conference in 1956, met with officials of the World Alliance of YMCAs. This meeting triggered negotiations and resulted in the British YMCA National Council sending the first fraternal secretary, Alan Keys, to Nigeria in 1958; he was then shortly replaced with Alex Goodall. Dr. Bankole-Wright transferred from Lagos to Ibadan and developed the interest of Chief T. L. Oyesina. Oyesina attended the World Council meeting in Kassel, Germany in 1957. While there he awakened the German movement's interest in supporting the development of the Nigerian YMCAs. In 1963 the International Committee of YMCAs of the United States and Canada sent a fraternal secretary, J. Clark Ready, to Nigeria. This was followed quickly by a secretary from Germany, Egon Slopianka. A fourth secretary, Fritz Mast, arrived from Germany in 1966. Nigeria was the first country where this multinational approach to cooperation was attempted. The two German secretaries served in the northern section of Nigeria, the British secretary was in the east and the North American International Committee's secretary was in the west, headquartered in Lagos.

Lagos opened its first hostel in 1958 and a second one in 1964, both in rented quarters. Due to lack of use, the second hostel was closed after eighteen months. The National Council of Nigerian YMCAs was formed in 1964 and at that time there were records of more than thirty YMCAs in the country; nearly all functioning as church societies. Only a dozen established an active relationship with the National Council. The National Council of Nigerian YMCAs was admitted into membership in the World Alliance of YMCAs in 1965. All secretaries in Nigeria reported to the Nigerian National Council and carried, in their separate regions, individual leadership recruiting and training responsibilities.

The Nigerian YMCA, as a whole, progressed slowly due to the lack of a large enough number of informed laymen, a persistent lack of financial resources at both the local and national levels and a limited scope of accomplishment by the church YMCAs. The unstable political situation presented another challenge. In 1966 a military coup deposed the government of the Republic of Nigeria and a federal military government was formed in its place. In 1967 a Nigerian Civil War occurred between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra, a rebel group within the country. The succession of three southeastern states affected the YMCA's work in Eastern Nigeria and eliminated its movement forward. The Nigerian economy was hit hard by this split as well, leaving many citizens in need of aid. British Fraternal Secretary William Harte, who was stationed in Port Harcourt, a town within the Biafran territory, was forced to leave. This left indigenous secretary-in-training S. Nwachuku to carry forward the YMCA work there. No direct contact was allowed between the YMCAs in the eastern states and those of the rest of the country. This lack of contact left the National Council of Nigerian YMCAs in the dark and the Port Harcourt YMCA on its own.

In some areas, however, the YMCA in Nigeria was successful. A 1967 push to establish Hi-Y Clubs were fruitful and approximately twenty clubs existed in Nigeria as by 1968. Boys' residence camping was also introduced by the Lagos association in 1967, as well as a successful experiment in city day-camping. A course for training camp counselors was written as part of the National Leadership College Training Plan. Local leadership training courses were conducted in Kaduna, Ibadan and Lagos. The National Council Camp Committee launched a campaign in various communities in 1968 in order to secure funds to provide camp facilities. A gift of a seventy acre tract of land for the use of a national camp site was given to the Nigerian YMCA by the Oba, chiefs and citizens of the Eruwa. The Eruwa Camp was used for boys' camping, leadership classes and seminars, experiments in international living and staff conferences.

In 1970, Biafran leaders surrendered and the Biafran region was fully absorbed back into Nigeria. Two years later, Moses Perry came to the Nigerian YMCA to replace J. Clark Ready, who was retiring. Perry immediately began planning a USAID (United States Agency for International Development) project for the Nigerian population. The Nigeria YMCA Entrepreneur Education and Development Program was set up to experimentally develop and demonstrate, for the benefit of the Nigerian government, some field-tested techniques and processes of non-formal education for developing indigenous entrepreneurship at the small business level. This program developed a process of management education that stressed on-site management and technical assistance. Perry accepted a job as the YMCA International Division Liaison to West Africa shortly after his placement and was replaced by John N. Newton.

The Lagos association, the largest YMCA in the country, also began a building repair and expansion program for the office building and hotel facility. Major program areas for the Lagos YMCA included physical education, Hi-Y, Camp Eruwa, vocational training in printing and metal work in Ibadan and Kaduna, and construction of a third workshop for carpentry in Bauchi. The Lagos YMCA also was the first non-profit organization in Nigeria to run a journalism program.

Starting in 1978 the Nigerian YMCA became part of the International Camp Counsellors Program (ICCP) sending Nigerian counsellors to the United States and receiving United States counsellors in return. In 1983 the YMCA in Nigeria established a direct linkage to the Blue Ridge Assembly YMCA in North Carolina. The two YMCAs established a direct trade of counsellors without the involvement of the ICCP in order to further develop their counsellor training and fulfill their individual YMCAs' needs.

In the 1980s the YMCA of Nigeria had sixteen active units and 8 full or part-time professional staff. The Lagos YMCA's income was from rental condominiums and apartments in their office complex as well as from the Mobile gas station on part of their property. The Nigerian association subsisted on contributions from the city associations and any additional funds to carry the program further. In 1987 a Youth-In-Government Program was proposed for the Nigerian YMCA to address the changing Federal government in Nigeria. It was designed to provide education of the political process in the hope that it would result in a strong, stable and democratically elected government in the country.

The last of the non-indigenous fraternal secretaries in Nigeria, a German secretary in the northern zone, left in April of 2000. Technical personnel for vocational training centers (VTCs) and other special projects, however, were still recruited from Germany. Main programs in the 2000s centered around youth empowerment, gender sensitivity, poverty alleviation, leadership development, political and civic education, and the capacity of building towards self reliance.

The following is a list of individuals who served with the North American YMCA as secretaries in Nigeria along with their dates of service:

Florek, William Edward (1971-1973) Perry, Moses (1972)
Henderson, Jack Rubel (1970) Ready, James Clark (1963-1972)
Newton, John N.
Historical information largely adapted and quoted from "YMCA International-World Alliance of YMCAs" (; retrieved July 18, 2012), "YMCA Africa Alliance" (; retrieved July 18, 2012), and from the collection.


1.9 Cubic Feet (6 boxes)


Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, maps, building development plans, journal and newspaper articles, and other records of YMCA international work in Nigeria, primarily from the 1960s to the 1980s and focusing around the YMCA in Lagos and the Eruwa Camp site.

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Biographical information on some of the secretaries involved YMCA work in Nigeria (see list of individuals in the historical note) is available in the YMCA Biographical Files, separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project II, March 2009, as collection FP029. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number: 6411327

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov and Melanie Doherty.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area