Academic journal article African Studies Review

The Steamer Parish: The Rise and Fall of Missionary Medicine on an African Frontier

Academic journal article African Studies Review

The Steamer Parish: The Rise and Fall of Missionary Medicine on an African Frontier

Article excerpt

RELIGION Charles M. Good Jr. The Steamer Parish: The Rise and Fall of Missionary Medicine on an African Frontier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. xx + 487 pp. Maps. Photographs. Tables. Bibliography. Index. $30.00. Paper.

This splendidly written and meticulously researched volume presents a fascinating case study and critique of the medical activities of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) in Malawi over the eighty-year period from 1885 to 1964. A high-church Anglican mission, the UMCA drew its inspiration, as the author notes, directly from David Livingstone. From its inception, the mission employed steamers on Lake Malawi which were essential to the establishment of its stations and the promotion of its religious and social objectives. As with other European missionary groups of the era in sub-Saharan Africa, the UMCA initially focused its medical efforts on caring for its own personnel. Mortality rates among them from malaria and blackwater fever alone were extremely high. In the latter instance, the use of quinine, then the only known malaria preventive, caused the breakdown of red blood cells in those infected with Plasmodium faldparum malaria. As a result, the released hemoglobin pigment precipitated in the kidneys and led to renal failure. At the turn of the twentieth century, the UMCA began to make basic medical services available to Africans. This was initially conceived of as an instrument for furthering the group's evangelization efforts. The author thoroughly explores how the UMCA not only influenced the health status of Africans in the Lake Malawi basin, but also altered human environments as well as human relationships.

In his first chapter, Good discusses these and other broad issues common to the encounter between Christian medical missions and African societies during the colonial era with special reference to the region of Lake Malawi. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.