The emergence of Africa and Latin America as the new heartlands of the Christian faith has profound implications for the study of global Christianity. Already the nature of this epochal development--an inexorable consequence of extensive Christian recession within Western societies, in conjunction with phenomenal growth in the non-Western world--means that much scholarly analysis now focuses on the potential significance of non-Western (or Southern) Christianities. Rightly so. The possibility that as little as one-fifth of the world's Christians will be white Caucasian by 2050 is a matter of no little consequence. But renewed attentiveness to non-Western Christianities should not be allowed to displace ongoing appraisal of the Western missionary movement, which transformed the course of Christian history and acted as a vital catalyst for the transformations in question.
For African Christians, careful investigation of this movement remains a priority not only because it provides critical connection points for self-understanding but also because African perspectives and an African imagination are indispensable for a full understanding of the impact and legacy of the European African encounter. That story is as much African as it is European. Exaggerated claims for the Western missionary movement and European initiatives have long dominated historical construction and analysis, so much so that the African (or non-Western) element has been portrayed simply as passive, dependent, and exploited. While such perspectives are no longer dominant, they remain influential. Non-Western assessments are critical, if only because "without this Third World dimension, mission would languish as the flawed instrument of alien subjugation, and an important part of Christian history would thereby be lost." (1)
Searching for an African Story
From the 1960s, prominent African historians have produced richly detailed (often regional or nationalist) accounts that have uncovered critical historical insights from an African perspective. Many have gone to great lengths to elucidate the role and contribution of indigenous agency and to illuminate both the rich heritage of pre-Christian past and encounters with the Christian Gospel outside the direct influence of European missionary action. Their painstaking historical investigation opened a new chapter in African scholarship and provided rich resources for theological education. (2) Yet, all too often, efforts at telling the African story simply elevated the actions and impact of a few prominent African Christians--Bishop Samuel Crowther or Bishop James Dwane, for instance--at the expense of a more thoroughgoing representation of the full range of African voices, reactions, and experiences.
Discerning and extracting from the vast body of records (mainly archives of missionary societies) the real experiences, responses, and legacy of local individuals and peoples is a Herculean task. It requires scrupulous attentiveness on the part of the researcher, for their voices and cries are often lost beneath the stentorian choruses of the dominant group(s), preserving whose experiences and testimony is often the primary function of those records.
In the remainder of this article I examine briefly the events and profound reactions stimulated by the implementation of Henry Venn's experiment with a native pastorate in the colonial context of Sierra Leone (West Africa) from the nineteenth century. My aim is not to rehash the significance of Venn's ideas but to briefly explore the African interpretation and experience of his vision. As I have argued elsewhere, Venn's experiment unleashed powerful racial conflicts and profound ecclesiastical challenges. (3) The primary objective here is to spotlight the transformative role that ordinary African Christians and little-known influences played in stimulating Venn's thinking and in shaping African appropriation of his strategy.
The Sierra Leone Experiment
Sierra Leone, the settlement from which the present country derives its name, formed the context for a number of British experiments at the turn of the nineteenth century, all related to abolitionism. After a few ill-fated efforts as far back as 1787, the settlement became home to freed American blacks, whose decision to fight with the British in the American War of Independence had ended with deportation to the inhospitable climes of Nova Scotia. Baptized Christians all, these Nova Scotian settlers landed in Sierra Leone in 1792, complete with their own churches and preachers. They named the settlement Freetown and established a Christian community steeped in religiosity and revivalism. Their preferred way of life was only briefly disturbed by the arrival in 1800 of another group of 550 former African slaves from Jamaica, called Maroons. (4)
In 1808 the settlement was taken over by the British Crown and became the focus of another abolition scheme that saw the blockade of the West African coast by the British navy and the recapture of thousands of African slaves (bound for the Americas) who were now relocated in Freetown and surrounding villages established around it for the purpose. These "recaptives," who numbered 18,000 by 1825 and an estimated 67,000 by 1840, became the dominant element in the life and future of the colony. Their conversion to Christianity in vast numbers represents one of the most spectacular achievements in modern mission history and "the first mass movement to Christianity in modern Africa." (5) Indeed, one African historian calculates that Freetown in 1820 boasted more African Christians than the rest of tropical Africa. (6) These early successes augured well for an experiment aimed at making the settlement "the beacon of light to Africa [and] the springboard of missionary enterprise." (7)
By the 1850s Sierra Leone was considered more or less a Christian country, with at least two-thirds of the population professedly Christian and crowded churches a familiar sight on the Lord's Day. (8) The type of Christianity that flourished was essentially a carbon copy of English versions--European missionaries were determined that it should be so, and the African inhabitants showed a particular proclivity for imitating the white man's ways. We must note, however, that like their counterparts elsewhere, Sierra Leone Christians moved back and forth between the African world and the world created by missionary Christianity, a form of Christianity that made very little provision for the African worldview. The settlement was also home to a sizable community of Muslims (also among the recaptives) whose numbers were steadily augmented by the influx of indigenous inhabitants from the interior. In its public life and self-image, though, the colony was decidedly "Christian," sufficiently so for one observer to declare that "compared with other countries in which the religion of Christ has become the religion of the masses, and in which there exist necessarily many hypocrites, Sierra Leone will certainly not suffer in comparison." (9)
The London-based Church Missionary Society (CMS), formed in 1799 by members of the staunchly evangelical Clapham Sect (including John Venn, Henry Venn's father), played the most prominent role in the Christianization of the settlement. The remarkable success of its missionary efforts, however, created an equally extraordinary predicament. By the 1840s indigenous congregations were rising up much faster than the resources of the missionary society could manage. Key reasons for this problem were the high mortality rate among Europeans and the shortage of British men offering their services for "foreign missions." (10) Consequently, the handful of European missionaries who survived beyond a year or two were invariably tied down by the enormous pastoral responsibilities associated with superintending numerous congregations.
Faced with a severe shortage of both European missionaries and the necessary funds to support its growing work, the society made the painful decision in 1841 to give up several of its missions and to make drastic cutbacks on its expenditure. (11) The search for a long-term solution to these two problems, however, led to momentous shifts in CMS missionary policy. The man almost single-handedly responsible for this transition was Henry Venn.
The Native Pastorate Experiment
Henry Venn was CMS secretary from 1840 to 1872. Soon after his appointment he formulated the concept of a native pastorate, by which he meant the settlement of indigenous churches under local pastors free from all supervision by foreign agency. Such churches would become, in his words, "self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating." At the time, this "three-self" formula represented a radical breakthrough in missionary thinking and practice. (12) Venn, in essence, rejected the prevalent practice of the day, whereby foreign missionaries entrenched themselves as pastors of established congregations, thereby stifling both the selfhood of the local church and the progress of missionary enterprise. In Venn's thinking, missionary action was the means, and a settled congregation under an indigenous pastor the end--"the one the scaffolding, the other the building it leaves behind when the scaffolding is removed." (13) European control and imported structures, in other words, were intrinsically impermanent.
Venn's vision for autonomous indigenous churches matured and developed over almost two decades. During that time he produced three papers (in 1851, 1861, and 1866) in which he outlined his scheme for the development of a native pastorate and attempted to give it an ideological and theological framework. (14) He eventually began to employ the phrase "euthanasia of a mission" to describe the new process by which a mission became progressively indigenous and independent. This "euthanasia of a mission," he explained, takes place "where the Missionary, surrounded by well-trained native congregations under native pastors ... gradually and wisely abridges his own labors, and relaxes his superintendence over the pastors, till they are able to sustain their own Christian ordinances, and the District ceases to be a Missionary field, and passes into Christian parishes under the constituted Ecclesiastical Authorities." (15) For Venn this transfer was the ultimate objective of a mission, and under his statesmanship the concept of the native pastorate came to dominate CMS missionary strategy for over three decades.
In Sierra Leone, the premier mission field of the CMS and the initial context in which Venn's revolutionary ideas were implemented, a native pastorate comprising nine churches was established in 1861. From the start the new strategy stimulated sharply polarized reactions. European missionaries on the ground, with hardly any exception, were strongly hostile to the new proposals and mounted stiff resistance. Notions of innate European superiority were firmly entrenched, and few Europeans considered Africans (no matter how well educated) their equal. Most considered the plan to elevate Africans to positions previously occupied by Europeans foolhardy, even retrograde. African subordinates who embraced Venn's ideals were viewed as ungrateful and arrogant. For African Christians, however, Venn's vision provoked powerful aspirations, including a determination to prove their capabilities and to stake a firm claim to equality. They found Venn's confidence in African advancement and his vision of an autonomous African church most empowering--possibly to an extent that not even Venn imagined. Unavoidably, the two reactions clashed.
In order to work, Venn's experiment needed well-trained African clergymen (to replace European missionaries) and a rising middle class to support them. The latter goal was more readily achieved than the former. But Venn, consistent with his vision, championed with unfailing zeal the elevation of Africans to positions of responsible leadership, as well as their intellectual advancement. The outstanding career of Bishop Samuel Adjai Crowther (ca. 1807-91), arguably the most celebrated African Christian of the nineteenth century, is the most conspicuous example of Venn's efforts. Crowther, as is well known, spearheaded the Niger Mission, a bold experiment in African leadership and initiative that witnessed one of the most remarkable periods of Christian expansion on the African continent in the nineteenth century. But that success is a very different story. The "euthanasia of a mission" presupposed a context (ostensibly a colonial context) where European missionary initiatives and structures constituted a foundation that required radical renovation. This circumstance was what made the Sierra Leone experiment unprecedented.
By the mid-nineteenth century the colony was undergoing rapid social transformation. Missionary emphasis on education had created a highly literate society in which schools flourished. (16) An informed public eagerly read English newspapers and kept the independent local press in business. The establishment of the Fourah Bay Institution (later Fourah Bay College) as a major center of theological education added to Sierra Leone's status as the "Athens of West Africa" in the nineteenth century. (17) Within the space of one generation many recaptives had made the transition from impoverished and degraded newcomers to well-educated, affluent, and outstanding citizens. The well-to-do sent their children to Britain for education. This next generation surpassed their parents in expectations and social aspirations. Education ushered them into the world of Western civilization, literature, and technology, a world utterly removed from the circumscribed, missionary-controlled universe of their parents. Independent, confident, and considerably less in awe of ecclesiastical or political authority than their forebears, they strove for positions of power and prestige in church and society. (18)
This group produced the most notable revolutionary thinkers of the period, including ordained clergymen like Bishop James Johnson (ca. 1839-1917) and Archdeacon Dandeson Crowther (1844-1938), the youngest son of Bishop Crowther, as well as other leading intellectuals like Dr. James Africanus Horton (the first African graduate of Edinburgh University). By the late 1860s James Johnson and other likeminded Africans were increasingly vocal in their criticisms of European domination and their defense of African capabilities. In a book published in 1868 James Horton mounted a systematic rebuttal of race theories (increasingly popular in Europe) that decreed the innate inferiority of the Negro to the Caucasian or other racial categories. (19)
Indeed, race consciousness inevitably rose with African advancement, which in turn elicited even more determined European assertions of superiority. Hegemony and resistance became mutually reinforcing, and one form of ethnocentrism instigated another. Two critical elements stimulated a new African vision of church autonomy and furnished its leading exponents with the requisite ideological tools: one was Verm's strategy, the other was Ethiopianism.
The Ethiopian ideology had roots in the black (or African) experience of slavery in the New World, where it fomented religious separatism and briefly inspired a "back to Africa" movement. (20) Its proponents affirmed the African cultural heritage and anticipated the conversion of the entire African continent to Christianity as part of an "Africa for Africans" campaign. Central to their thinking was the declaration enshrined in Psalm 68:31, namely, "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God" (KJV). This promise or prophecy (as it was widely conceived) formed the taproot of a rhetoric that emphasized racial equality and ecclesiastical independence. Crossing the Atlantic with the migrant movement of American blacks, Ethiopian ideals were adopted by leading intellectuals in church and society like James Johnson. (21) Precisely because it highlighted the worst aspects of European domination and cultural imperialism, Ethiopianism also captured the popular imagination and generated considerable anti-European feeling.
Venn expected the growth of the pastorate to be gradual; indeed, he often seemed maddeningly overcautious in following through on his scheme. In the colony, however, the pastorate and the ideals it represented unleashed latent resentments and racial tensions for which Ethiopianism acted as a lightning rod. In a radical reinterpretation of Venn's vision, James Johnson, who emerged as the movement's prophet, proclaimed the Sierra Leone native pastorate a perfect model for an independent African church that reflected national distinctions. (22) The arrival in the colony in 1871 of Edward W. Blyden (1832-1912), an archetypal Ethiopianist and the most vociferous African nationalist of the period, stoked the flames of race controversy in no small measure and radicalized the campaign. (23) The movement energized the African clergy and leading laymen as much as it antagonized the CMS missionaries and the European (Anglican) bishop. Its campaign focused on calls for an independent, nondenominational African church (with its own African bishop) and the establishment of a new West African university in Freetown, where African ability and originality would be nurtured, and European models excluded.
Venn's specific reaction to the Ethiopian campaign in Sierra Leone, partly inspired by his vision, will never be known. Ill health forced him to resign as CMS secretary in 1872, and he died in January 1873 while the movement was still gathering momentum. But only three years before Blyden's arrival, the storm of racial controversy raging in the colony had prompted him to pen a paper entitled "On Nationality" (1868). (24) In this paper he warned CMS missionaries that "race distinctions will probably rise in intensity with the progress of the Mission" and urged them to "show the utmost respect for national peculiarities." Significantly, he also entreated them to "let a native church be organised as a national institution." To the very last his intuitive grasp of the crucial elements in the transition of mission to church was unsurpassed.
Venn's spirit lingered within CMS after his death, but the influence of his lofty ideals decreased with each passing year. His successors were sympathetic to the claims of the Ethiopian movement and were fairly critical of European hostility to what they regarded as worthy, if somewhat excitable, African claims. They immediately called for Fourah Bay College to be transformed into a university and resolved that Africans should join its staff. But they temporized on the calls for an independent church. In truth, given the circumstances of the case, the campaign for an independent church appears to have been quite premature, since the native pastorate itself was not fully self-supporting, an element that Venn considered critical for full autonomy. In the event, even James Johnson, who impressed the CMS secretaries after being summoned to London, was unable to convince them to grant full independence to the native pastorate. And his subsequent transfer in 1874 to the Breadfruit Church in Lagos cost the campaign its leadership and momentum. (25)
The Sierra Leone episode acted as a springboard for the diffusion of Ethiopianism throughout West Africa, where its spread coincided with the "scramble for Africa." Everywhere Ethiopianism sowed the seeds of incipient African nationalism, subverted European missionary control mechanisms, and enshrined alternative visions of African Christianity that ultimately found full expression in African Independent Church movements. (26)
Meanwhile, the movement not only triggered the removal or withdrawal of most European missionaries connected with the CMS in Sierra Leone but also precipitated rapid CMS transfer of the remaining churches and mission stations to the nascent native pastorate. By the mid-1880s the Sierra Leone [Anglican] Church was distinctively African in its day-to-day operations. The first African archdeacon was appointed in 1887. The only remaining office occupied by a European was that of the bishop. The euthanasia of a mission was well under way, with all the possibilities that Venn had imagined. But the experiment now entered its most problematic and crisis-ridden phase.
The details are complex. Complete CMS withdrawal in the wake of the Ethiopian campaign was overly hasty, precipitated less by the clamor for autonomy than by a desire to reduce the society's financial obligations. The pastorate was suddenly overburdened. Moreover, facing calls to take up the reins of financial support, the wealthy businessmen in the church who had made common cause with the pastors in the Ethiopian-inspired calls for an independent African church immediately insisted on a greater say in the affairs of the pastorate--with the not unreasonable argument that since they were effectively replacing the CMS as financial providers, they should exercise similar control. These claims put them on a collision course with the native pastors, who saw themselves as successors to European missionaries and were now determined to reprise the latter's unbridled authority.
In the ensuing wrangle, petty squabbles at the parish level became overblown, and nasty dissensions spread throughout the church. Inept episcopal leadership compounded the crisis. (27) Efforts to revise the church's constitution further deepened the acrimonious divisions. Somewhat paradoxically, this crisis, which eventually involved prolonged and scandalous litigation between the bishop and five of the most senior pastors, reflected both anomalies within Venn's vision and poor implementation of his ideals. For a while the experiment seemed derailed by internal rupture. Ultimately, though, the church survived, and the divisions were eventually healed, in part because a new bishop more committed to the ideals of the experiment was appointed.
Unsung Heroes and the Common Element
The version of the story told so far coheres with the typical historical emphasis on conspicuous movements and prominent figures whose intellectual leadership and intrepidness stimulated awareness and fired African expectations. But in keeping with the argument that lesser-known individuals or movements and commonplace occurrences were crucial elements in the story, it is necessary to highlight some often overlooked elements and figures that played an indispensable role in the unfolding historical drama.
Atlantic crossings were pivotal to the story. "Ethiopian" thinking and consciousness crossed the Atlantic to Sierra Leone with the movement of black Americans like the Nova Scotian settlers. Dissenters all, the settlers were fiercely independent, given to racial antagonism, and deeply resentful of white domination; (28) their penchant for religious protest presaged later movements. In the first recorded ecclesiastical secession in modern Africa, a major segment of the Methodist settlers rejected European superintendence and in 1822 seceded from the London-based Wesleyan conference to form a separate West African Methodist Church. (29) The new church exemplified the "three-self" principle long before Venn's ideas materialized, and its chosen name signified the combination of identity and independence that the later Ethiopian movement would epitomize. Indeed, it is interesting to note that James Johnson received part of his elementary education at a West African Methodist school--a circumstance that arguably impressed on him "the capacity of Africans to understand Christianity, spread the gospel, direct their affairs and bear their burden, without any connection with or help from any foreign body." (30)
Another group whose political consciousness and race consciousness injected a spirit of protest and radical self-awareness into the budding Sierra Leone Christian community were Afro-West Indians. The West Indian presence in Sierra Leone dated back to the establishment of a West Indian regiment in 1819. Subsequent immigration and a brief burst of missionary activity significantly increased their numbers in West Africa.
Possessing significant advantages in education and sophistication (compared, that is, to the other settler groups) and better able to withstand the climate than the Europeans, the West Indians rose to prominent positions in the colonial administration. (31) Like their black American counterparts, West Indian Christians brought with them strong race consciousness and a propensity for political activism. The majority of newspapers established in the colony between 1855 and 1870 were owned by West Indians, a circumstance that served to amplify their views and influence. (32) In 1867 the European secretary of the mission informed Venn that the West Indian influence was a major factor in the spirit of rebellion spreading among the younger African clergy. (33) West Indian agitation and outspokenness on European dominance contributed greatly to the mood and expectations that provided fertile soil for Ethiopian sentiments and conditioned African appropriation of Venn's experiment.
Many figures who are little known or seldom acknowledged indirectly contributed to the groundswell of African reaction and self-assertiveness in the Sierra Leone colony. They include Rev. Edward Jones, the first black principal of Fourah Bay College; Rev. James Quaker, the first African principal of the CMS Grammar School; and Rev. George Macauley, James Johnson's contemporary who led the rebellion against constitutional reform that ended in protracted litigation in the courts. Also worthy of mention are prominent laymen like William Grant and T. J. Sawyer, who wielded considerable influence in church and society and helped to bankroll Edward Blyden's short-lived but influential newspaper, The Negro. We have space to comment only briefly on the contribution of Edward Jones (1807-65).
Jones was the first black graduate of Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts. He arrived in the colony in 1831 as a schoolmaster and became principal of Fourah Bay College in 1840, a position he held for twenty years. It is almost certain that Jones directly contributed to the spread of Ethiopian ideals. Sierra Leone historian Christopher Fyfe comments that Jones "represented the heritage of protest against racial oppression, otherwise almost absent from the Colony at this time." (34) Inevitably, his defense of African capabilities and advancement often put him at cross-purposes with his European brethren. (35) Most important, his position as principal made Jones a major influence in the lives of the men who became the first pastors of the native pastorate, the men who subsequently challenged European ethnocentrism and clamored for an independent African church.
But perhaps the most significant of the common elements in the story pertains to Henry Venn himself. As a boy growing up at Clapham in southwest London, Henry Venn interacted with a group of African children taken from Sierra Leone to England by the colony's second governor, Zachary Macauley. We can imagine the eight-year-old Venn playing and frolicking in the grass with these children, whose knowledge of the Bible made a strong impression on him. Thus began his abiding interest in Sierra Leone and his lifelong affinity with Africa and Africans. Decades later another memorable encounter with a hitherto unnamed Sierra Leonean merchant had a transformative impact on Venn. (36) After painstaking archival research, I have identified this merchant as James Godfrey Wilhelm, a wealthy recaptive who called on Venn in 1848 while on a trip to London to find a school for his daughter. (37) In response to Venn's moderately indicting observation that wealthy Africans like him who could afford to travel at their leisure must do more to support their own clergy, Wilhelm responded: "Mr Venn ..., so long as you treat us like children, we shall behave like children. Treat us like men, and we will behave like men." This incident and statement, which Venn recounted throughout his life, made a profound impression on him and deeply impacted his thinking.
It is no secret that the often hegemonic nature of the Western missionary enterprise meant that it almost everywhere provoked powerful resistance within non-European societies. This was certainly the case in the African experience. Henry Venn's vision was not without blind spots, but it is a matter of record that his ideas exerted a profound influence on the development of African Christianity and also contributed to the growth of African nationalism, political consciousness, and nation building. The point made here is that while the relative handful of African Christian leaders who initiated protest movements and championed radical (sometimes grandiose) visions of African Christianity are important components in the story, they invariably drew on intellectual currents that were the product of multiple contributions and the wider religious environment. Equally important, their efforts were shaped by the decisions and contributions of ordinary men and women whose actions provided vital links in the chain of events. Without this common element there would be no revolutions to write about.
(1.) Lamin Sanneh, West African Christianity: The Religious Impact (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1983), p. xvii.
(2.) Among such works, see J. F. A. Ajayi, Christian Missions in Nigeria, 1841-1891: The Making of a New Elite (London: Longmans, Green, 1965); E. A. Ayandele, The Missionary Impact on Modern Nigeria, 1842-1914: A Political and Social Analysis (London: Longmans, Green, 1966); and G. O. M. Tasie, Christian Missionary Enterprise in the Niger Delta, 1864-1918 (Leiden: Brill, 1978).
(3.) Jehu J. Hanciles, Euthanasia of a Mission: African Church Autonomy in a Colonial Context (Westwood, Conn.: Praeger, 2002).
(4.) Mavis C. Campbell, Back to Africa: George Ross and the Maroons, from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1993), p. i; Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1962), pp. 79-81.
(5.) A.F. Walls, "A Christian Experiment: The Early Sierra Leone Colony," in The Mission of the Church and the Propagation of the Faith, ed. G. J. Cuming (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970), p. 128.
(6.) P. E. H. Hair, "Freetown Christianity and Africa," Sierra Leone Bulletin of Religion 6 (December 1964): 16.
(7.) Walls, "Christian Experiment," p. 111.
(8.) S.W. Koelle," A Picture of Sierra Leone in the Light of Christianity," Church Missionary Intelligencer 6 (March 1855): 62.
(9.) H. Seddall, The Missionary History of Sierra Leone (London:Hatchards, 1874), p. 226.
(10.) Missionary societies were hard-pressed to find recruits for the mission field in West Africa precisely because the climate was known to be fatal to Europeans. Of the eighty-seven missionaries who went out to West Africa from England between 1810 and 1850, thirty-eight (44 percent) died before returning home (information in the 1849 reprint of nos. 1-132 of the Missionary Papers for the Use of the Weekly and Monthly Contributors to the Church Missionary Society). Only in the latter half of the century, when the climate and deadly diseases were better known, would long periods of service be recorded.
(11.) Eugene Stock, The History of the Church Missionary Society: Its Environment, Its Men, and Its Work, 3 vols. (London: The Society, 1899), 1:482.
(12.) In his Ideal of the Self-Governing Church (Leiden: Brill, 1990), pp. 1-2, C. Peter Williams argues that the concept goes back to 1818. However, its formulaic expression is normally attributed to both Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson (foreign secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1832-66), both of whom were almost certainly thinking along the same lines around the mid-nineteenth century.
(13.) William Knight, Memoir of the Rev. H. Venn (London, 1880), p. 277.
(14.) Copies of these papers can be found in Missionary Publications Miscellaneous, vol. 3, no. 6, Partnership House Library, London. For original copies of the second and third papers, see CMS Archives, Univ. of Birmingham, G/AZ1/1, nos. 116 and 146.
(15.) Venn, first paper (1851).
(16.) By 1840 over 8,000 children were in school. In 1850 the CMS alone had forty-six elementary schools (attended by over 6,000 children and adults); the Grammar School (established 1845) and Female Institution (established 1849), which provided secondary education for children of a rising middle class; and an institution for theological training.
(17.) By the end of the nineteenth century, Sierra Leone "provided most of the African clerks, teachers ..., merchants, and professional men in Western Africa from Senegal to the Congo," not to mention 60 percent of Anglican "native clergy" in the region (P. E. H. Hair, "Africanism: The Freetown Contribution," Journal of African Studies 5 [December 1967]: 531).
(18.) To European (missionary) eyes they often appeared arrogant and pretentious, in part because they were prone to challenge the ethnocentrism and dominance that was so much a part of European missionary enterprise while at the same time assiduously aping European ways.
(19.) Horton's book, dedicated to Henry Venn, was the cumbersomely tilled West African countries and peoples: British and native, with the requirements necessary for establishing that self-government recommended by the committee of the House of Commons, 1865; and a vindication of the African race (London, 1868; repr., Edinburgh: at the Univ. press, 1969).
(20.) For more details, see Gayraud Wilmore, Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation of the Religious History of Afro-American People, 3d ed. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1998); also Jehu J. Handles, "Ethiopianism: Rough Diamond of African Christianity (a West African Perspective)," Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 23, nos. 1-2 (December 1997): 75-104.
(21.) See Hanciles, Euthanasia of a Mission, pp. 147-95.
(22.) On James Johnson, see E. A. Ayandele, Holy Johnson: Pioneer of African Nationalism, 1836-1917 (London: Frank Cass, 1970); also Jehu J. Hanciles, "The Legacy of James Johnson," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 21 (October 1997): 162-67.
(23.) Blyden, a West Indian of African descent (his parents were Ibo), had an extraordinary career that encompassed the church, politics, and education. For a full biographical account, see H. R. Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot, 1832-1912 (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967). Blyden's arrival in Sierra Leone as an employee of the CMS provoked intense European opposition and proved shortlived but eventful; see Hanciles, Euthanasia of a Mission, pp. 164-70.
(24.) Dated June 30, 1868, and originally given as instructions of the committee, a full copy of this paper is reproduced in Knight, Memoir, pp. 282-92.
(25.) The Breadfruit Church was the leading CMS (or Anglican) church in Lagos, and the wealthiest of all the Lagos churches. Johnson became the first African to pastor an Anglican church in this growing capital city (see Ayandele, Holy Johnson, pp. 88-89).
(26.) Other Ethiopian movements emerged in different parts of sub-Saharan Africa in the late nineteenth century, invariably deriving impetus from, and taking the form of rebellion against, white missionary control. As a protest movement, Ethiopianism evoked responses that ranged from the quiescent to the radical. It did not always translate into ecclesiastical independency, at least insofar as some of its most articulate proponents remained within the mission-established denominations. Ultimately, the varieties of Ethiopianism mediated a focus on racial equality, cultural identity, and religious independence and provided an outlet for the frustrated aspirations of African Christians in a colonial context.
(27.) Ernest Ingham, at the time the European bishop (1883-97), was a youthful prelate who was convinced that the native pastorate experiment was ill-conceived. In struggling to impose his authority, he alienated older African clergy.
(28.) Hair describes their agitation as "the beginning of African political nationalism" ("Africanism," p. 526).
(29.) For details, see Fyfe, History of Sierra Leone, p. 139; Walls, "Christian Experiment," pp. 107-29.
(30.) See Ayandele, Holy Johnson, pp. 21-22.
(31.) By midcentury they occupied such lucrative posts as colonial secretary, collector of customs, chief judgeship, queen's advocate, postmaster, and the best clerkships. For more details, see Fyfe, History of Sierra Leone, pp. 133, 135-36, 211.
(32.) See Christopher Fyfe, "The Sierra Leone Press in the Nineteenth Century," Sierra Leone Studies, n.s., 8 (June 1957): 226-36.
(33.) Rev. George Caiger to Venn, January 12, 1867, CMS Archives, Univ. of Birmingham, C A1/O 64/50d; also, Rev. George Nicol to Venn, April 16, 1867, C A1/O 164/34.
(34.) Christopher Fyfe, Africanus Horton, 1835-1883: West African Scientist and Patriot (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1972), p. 26.
(35.) For more on Jones, see Handles, Euthanasia of a Mission, pp. 96-103, 153.
(36.) See Knight, Memoir, pp. 545-46.
(37.) For details, see Hanciles, Euthanasia of a Mission, pp. 34-37.
Jehu J. Hanciles, a Sierra Leonean, is Associate Professor of Mission History and Globalization at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. He has written Euthanasia of a Mission: African Church Autonomy in a Colonial Context (Praeger, 2002).…