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Surakat Oyebanji was born in Nigeria to a Muslim family. His father, a factory engineer, died when he was a teenager, and his mother, despite never having had the opportunity to gain literacy or education, was a great support to him as her pursued his studies. He entered the field of education, ultimately getting a master’s degree in the subject. He became a teacher and principal and is now retired. He is married with three daughters who are active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Surukat joined the church in 1995, attracted to the business-like time keeping of the meetings. In time he gained conviction about the truthfulness of the Church and eventually served as branch president and bishop, where he had opportunities to develop spiritual as well as temporal leadership skills. He believes that God preserved his life after he was shot multiple times by an armed robber so that he could live to serve God.

Mormonism has not always been an easy path in Nigeria, he recounts. Many there believe the Church is a cult. Within the congregation, there are also challenges, particularly surrounding the financial needs of the members. Often there are not enough funds to assist all those who ask for it. But he finds particular sustenance in taking the sacrament, which he has not missed in ten years.

Ultimately, he sees the Church as promoting a unifying message that all are brothers and sisters and children of God. As an educator, he believes that Latter-day Saint schools might be a way for the Church to spread further in Nigeria.

Surakat and his wife in front of a church building
Surakat and his wife in front of a church building


Surakat with a fellow church member
Surakat with a fellow church member
Oyebanji

Surakat in the 1980s
Surakat in the 1980s

Surakat in the 1990s
Surakat in the 1990s