The story of Christian missionaries in Africa is an extraordinary one, a central drama of cultural encounter unfolding over two hundred years and profoundly changing Africa in the process. It is also the story of thousands of individual men and women from Europe and the USA, and of millions of Africans, whose lives were altered. Central to the story is the Christian faith, the ways in which missionaries took it to Africa, and the ways in which the Africans accepted (or rejected) it. But missionising had a much broader impact than the religious one, relating to travel and exploration, medical care, education and imperialism. Also bound up in the story are issues of race (and racism), commerce, politics and warfare.
Although there have been scholarly works on parts of the story, this is the first general history, and the first history to provide a broad sweep. The documentary record is very rich, and the author has drawn on many texts, of and about missionaries. A preface outlines European contact with Africa prior to 1700 (including Jesuit travel in Ethiopia), but the narrative proper begins with the earliest attempts by German and English Protestant missionary societies to set up missions in West Africa, a strategy which related to the end of slavery and the notion of repatriation for ex-slaves. Subsequent chapters examine the activities of a whole range of other societies in different parts of Africa. Throughout, the narrative returns to the key themes of religion, race, culture and commerce played out in the arenas of conversion, education and medical care.
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The first general history of missionary work in Africa, from the earliest times (late seventeenth century) to the end of the twentieth century, combining historical narrative with discussion of salient themes, prominent personalities and key events.About the Author:
Martin Ballard is an independent scholar and writer.
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