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Missionairies In Africa

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European Missionaries in Africa

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Christianity was bounded to the coastal areas of Africa. At this time in Western Africa, there were a total of three missionary societies operating in western Africa. There was the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), the Wesleyan Missionary Society (WMS), and the Glasaw and Scottish Missionary Society (GSMS). In the southern portion of Africa, the Morovian Missionary and the London Missionary were dominant. There was only one society in eastern Africa and there were none at all in northern Africa. However, by 1840 the number of missionary societies had increased to more than fifteen in western Africa, eleven in southern Africa, five in eastern Africa in 1877 and there were six in northern Africa in 1880. Not only were these societies active in the coastal region of Africa, but they also started stretching inland to lands where they haven't reached before. Around the year 1860, these societies in southern Africa had traveled as far north as present day Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia. (Boahen

15) Famous names of this time include David Livingston and Robert Moffat. (Gordon 285)

Maybe it is good to look at how these missionaries spread and shared their ideas to all four corners of Africa. When the Europeans landed in Africa in the beginning, they had no knowledge of the type of people that they were dealing with. They knew nothing of their culture, language, religion or anything of that nature. So the Europeans had to find someone or something to tell them about the people they were dealing with. The Europeans looked no further than the slaves...mainly in the United States. The United States exported freed slaves back to Africa in order to help the colonization process run smoother. After all, these people knew about African culture and language and the people of Africa would probably listen to someone of their own color before a white European whom they knew nothing about.

The Christian Africans were most successful around the Guinea coast...around Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. (Gordon 44) In fact, most African Catholics owe their conversion to black catechists. Catechists were Africans who were mostly untrained and unordained, but preached the gospel and set up Catholic communities all over Africa.

These catechists were the main people responsible for the huge increase of Christians in Africa, particularly in the Nigerian area. (Hastings) Samuel Adjai Crowther was the most famous among these African missionaries. Crowther was very popular amongst his people and later became the first African Anglican bishop. ( Gordon 285) Crowther had a firm belief that Africa could not be evangelized by Europeans, but only by Africans themselves. He argued that the presence of Europeans endangered the "manly independence and the courage and bravery of Africans" ( Boahen 22)

Even though white missionaries did place pressure on some portions of Africa, take for example southern Africa, there is little doubt that those in the heart of Africa were facing great danger in being subjected to the Zulu, Boers, or Ndebele people and saw the white missionaries as a "savior" and embraced them. (Boahen 16) This could be a reason why the Africans tolerated and welcomed the white man to begin with, when they could have fought them out of their lands.

In addition preaching the Gospel and converting the African people to Christianity, these European Missionaries also translated the Bible into several African languages.

The Missionary Societies also promoted agriculture as well as teaching certain skills such as printing and tailoring. They also set up trading posts and various points to help trade flourish, although these posts were more than likely set up for their own benefit. But perhaps the greatest thing that the European missionaries tried to enforce on the Africans was the educational system. (Boahen, 16)

The Europeans saw the Africans as "uneducated savages" who needed the white mans' help to function as a society. All missionary societies set up elementary schools and some even had training colleges and secondary schools. They also had teacher training colleges, seminars and technical schools. By 1894, the protestant missionaries claimed to have had a total enrollment of 137,000 students attending their schools. (Boahen 16)

However things were not all peaches and cream. Very rarely did a student stay in school a whole session and the amount of schools, particularly the training and secondary



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