NIGER LODGE - NO. 3882 (1918)
Mention has already been made of the long struggle to get a Lodge started at Forcados, and later at Warri. The Petition to form the Lodge was signed by twelve masons in April 1918. The Petition was sponsored by St. George’s Lodge No. 3065. The Warrant was issued on 22nd July 1918, the same date as that for Port Harcourt Lodge No. 3881. The Consecration took place at Warri on 14th March 1919. The Consecrating Officer was the Hon. Kitoyi Ajasa, D.G. Reg.
The first Master of Niger Lodge No. 3882 was L. C. Ogden. The first Senior Warden was A. E. Turner and the first Junior Warden was G. J. S. Anderson.
The first Lodge building was completed on 7th April, 1918. It was of temporary construction only; mud and sticks outside, the inside being cement-faced with a concrete floor and corrugated iron roof. This building deteriorated very quickly. Termites played havoc with the timber and finally in 1922 the walls commenced to collapse and had to be shored up with timber. It is on record also that early in 1923, just before a Meeting, half of the east wall fell out and a tarpaulin and timber had to be procured and hastily erected to enable the Meeting to be held. Once again a building fund was started and eventually the present Temple was completed.
It is of interest to record that the foundation stone of the present building was laid on 28th September 1918 by the Resident (R. S. Raikes) inside the original temporary structure, the Brethren realising then that in due course a new and more substantial building would have to be erected when the necessary funds had been raised. This explains also the Lodge motto “DESERTA SECULARUM AEDIFICA-BUNTUR.” ” They…………shall build the old waste places.” (Isaiah 58, xii.)
The efforts of the founding Brethren of Niger Lodge No. 3882 to provide a suitable building were extremely praise-worthy; and the preceding paragraph has been extracted from the Lodge records to illustrate the enormous difficulties experienced in those pioneer years. The same difficulties were faced and overcome by nearly all the other Lodges in Nigeria, especially those situated up-country. A shifting population, of Government civil servants and employees of commercial houses, were usually responsible for the formation of many of our Lodges in Nigeria. No sooner had these worthy Brethren succeeded in starting new Lodges, than they found themselves posted elsewhere. This added to the difficulties in those early days, quite apart from the considerable financial burden which had to be borne by all members in order to provide the necessary funds for building purposes.
Note:- Warri is situated on the Warri River, which flows into the Forcados River, at the Western extremity of the Niger Delta. The country North and South of Warri is flat and swampy and the construction of motor roads is a difficult and expensive business. For this reason Warri was for many years the most inaccessible of the places in the District where Lodges meet and no official visit was “paid to the Lodge between 1939 and 1958. As recently as 1960 the Master of the Lodge, who lived only 30 miles away in Sapele, found two roads impassable and missed a regular meeting; the Senior Warden had tried a third road and got through.
L. C. Ogden, the first Master of the Lodge was an expatriate. After him, all succeeding Masters were expatriates until the 50th year (1969), when for the first time, an indigene The Hon. Justice F. O. M. Atake was installed Master of the Lodge. During the period 1969 – 1982/83, seven other indigenes were also installed Masters. Also, during the same period, four indigenes and two expatriates received D.G.L. Honours. With these changes and the increasing indigenous membership, the Lodge continued to enjoy perfect understanding, love, harmony and satisfactory progress. The major problem was that of the dwindling population of the expatriate members, brought about by frequent transfers, resignation and retirement, illness, personal and domestic reasons, etc.
One of the low points in the history of Niger Lodge was the incidence involving Chief G. E. Mabiaku’s donation. On the night of his installation as Worshipful Master of the Lodge on 10th April, 1976, he announced his intention to extend the Ante-Chamber to incorporate a water-closet, urinal and a wash-hand basin, Two Cloak rooms and a Kitchen. He also pledged to modernise the existing Bar and provide full air-conditioning to make the Ante-Chamber more spacious and comfortable for Banquet purposes. The Brethren thanked Chief Mabiaku for the promise of such a magnificient donation to the Lodge. After the necessary planning and approval, Chief Mabiaku started the work.
But alas, the work was nearing completion when an unexpected and painful calamity struck. In May, 1979, Niger Lodge received a circular from the District Grand Lodge on the orders of the United Grand Lodge expelling Fifteen Brethren of the D.G.L. (S.C.) Nigeria, including Chief Mabiaku from the recognised Constitutions – English, Irish, and Scottish Lodges. Thus, Chief Mabiaku’s work came to a halt. The Lodge took over and had since completed the work.
Lodge Venue and Meeting Days
Second Saturday of every
month except December.
Installation first Saturday in
Time: 12 noon
Mabiaku Road, Warri.
Mail: P.O. Box 38, Warri 332008 Delta state.