Christian Missions and the Training for Political Leadership in Eastern Nigeria

By Omenka, Nicholas Ibeawuchi | International Review of Mission, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Christian Missions and the Training for Political Leadership in Eastern Nigeria


Omenka, Nicholas Ibeawuchi, International Review of Mission


Introduction

African historiography owes much of its creation to scholars with secular tendencies, and it is not surprising that they place more emphasis on the political and cultural effects of religion rather than on the nature of religious change. In Nigeria, the failure to pay adequate tribute, outside the confines of religious studies, to the enormous contributions of the Christian missions to nation building has been described as a deficient cultural nationalism. (1) This paper aims to set the record straight.

The impact of mission education on the political landscape of Eastern Nigeria in particular has remained an important factor in the region's socio-cultural history. In the pages that follow, we shall look at the various stances of the Christian denominations with regard to the political training and political participation of their adherents in Eastern Nigeria. Throughout the colonial period, the Protestant missions maintained a comfortable lead over their Catholic counterparts in the provision of political leadership in the country. In 1955, Father J. Jordan, the education adviser to the Catholic missions, was at pains to note that the premier, his deputy, and eleven out of the twelve cabinet ministers, in other words the entire government of the then Eastern Region, were Protestant. (2) The paper shall attempt, among other things, to analyse the causes of this disparity, which although the Catholics had the status of a numerical giant, accorded them that of a political dwarf. It also accounted, in part, for the brand of cultural nationalism that tended to depreciate the role of religion in the nation-building mechanism of the polity.

Post-primary education and national consciousness

The imbalance which existed in the exercise of political control among the products of the missionary schools is essentially the outcome of the different approaches which the Christian denominations gave to secondary education in Nigeria. Among the missionary societies which came to Africa in the 19th century, there was a general awareness that education, especially at the secondary level, was necessary for all aspects of nation building in the continent. Their plan was, in the words of the secretary general of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), to train a body of natives, "who may form an intelligent and influential class of society and become f0unders of a kingdom which shall render incalculable benefits to Africa." (3) It was the Protestant missions which took the lead in translating this general principle into practice, not only in Eastern Nigeria but also throughout the country. It was a move that brought their adherents into intimate contact with the political struggle for independence.

Long before British rule was established in Nigeria, the Protestant missions had begun to prepare their African members for leadership, especially for leadership in the local churches envisaged in the country. Realizing the relevance of higher education to nation building, the mission societies sent their African parsons and senior teachers to colleges in England and America, and to Fourah Bay in Sierra Leone, that powerhouse of Protestantism in West Africa. The elevation in 1864 of Ajayi Crowther to the position of bishop in the Anglican church to lead an all-African staff on the Niger, was the high water mark of the pioneering indigenization efforts of the Protestant missions. (4) It was the products of this Protestant initiative which eventually spearheaded the establishment of Protestant grammar schools in Nigeria, and saw education as an instrument of emancipation from perpetual servitude. It was against this background that Eyo Ita, the first premier of Eastern Nigeria, launched his national education movement in the 1930s. "Education", he said, "will not Europeanize the African, but on the contrary will Africanize him ... It must now become a powerful dynamic force to liberate the people, soul and body, and it must do that at a rate never dreamt of before. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Christian Missions and the Training for Political Leadership in Eastern Nigeria
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.