Faith in Schools: Religion, Education, and American Evangelicals in East Africa

By Amy Stambach | Go to book overview

6 School-Community Partnerships in Uganda

If, as we have seen in the previous chapter, nonliberalist forms of spiritism and orthodoxy inform collective public life, the question arises: How do these forms move into the realm of education and social knowledge? How do they inform the moral logic of governing structures at the turn of the twenty-first century? The church's faith-based public work in Uganda partly illustrates an answer to these questions.


An Incident

“Chicken parts, locks of hair, and small bottles of medicine are what we found upon arriving at this nondenominational church early one morning. This may seem strange to Americans, but anyone living in Uganda immediately knows that the building and the church have been cursed. Someone doesn't like the fact that the church is setting up their meeting place on Main Street.” So opens a letter from American missionaries to sponsoring church members in the United States. The letter explains that a series of near-fatal accidents that occurred during the building's construction prompted Ugandan townspeople to consider that the church was asking for a human sacrifice. “You see, when you begin a building project in Uganda it is customary to make a sacrifice of some kind to protect yourself from evil spirits,” wrote the American missionaries. “Since we had not made that kind of sacrifice, some people said the building would make a sacrifice for itself.” The truth of the matter, however, the letter continued, was that “Jesus is our building's sacrifice.” The church did not need to make any concessions to evil; Jesus had done it years ago.1

Ugandan leaders in the church agreed with the missionaries that Jesus' death was a holy sacrifice. They also agreed that some people in the town did not like the church's work, but they objected that the missionaries made too big a deal of the series of accidents. Missionaries, they said, fetishized African witchcraft (uchawi) to the point of irrationality. In contrast, East Africans considered the missionaries themselves to be unreasonable in call-

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Faith in Schools: Religion, Education, and American Evangelicals in East Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • To Friends Here and There v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • 1: Introduction: Schools of Faith 1
  • Part I - Preparation in the United States 33
  • 2: One Hundred Fifty Years of Mission Work 35
  • 3: Using Anthropology for Christian Witness 65
  • Part II - Evangelism in East Africa 97
  • 4: Teaching English in Tanzania 99
  • 5: Planting Church Schools in Kenya 132
  • 6: School-Community Partnerships in Uganda 154
  • Part III - Implications 179
  • 7: A New Anthropological Ethnography of Religion and Education 181
  • Epilogue 193
  • Reference Matter 197
  • Notes 199
  • References 209
  • Index 225
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