Agency and exit Ethiopianism in southern and central Africa

In southern and central Africa, three interesting dimensions intrigue: first, the question of why Africans reacted with such confidence to the new face of missionary Christianity; second, the different faces of Ethiopianism in the region, where the movement occurred independently, though rooted in the same principles as in West Africa; third, the role of African-American black churches in catalysing and sustaining African radicalism. Certain regional characteristics equally emerged: race was more prominent than culture in white settler communities; exit was sometimes forced and sometimes adopted out of frustration; the political dimension was buttressed by the religious as churches provided havens from the brutality and humiliations of the structure, and served as the forum for mobilising dissent until the character of radicalism changed and the weight of frustration produced the violent genre of Ethiopianism. For instance, in 1892, Mangena M. Mokone (1851-c. 1936), an ordained Wesleyan Methodist, rejected the racial segregation of the church and withdrew to found his Ethiopian Church in Pretoria. Four years later, he contacted the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) through the agency of his niece, Charlotte Manye. She was a member of a group of singers stranded in the United States after a tour of America in 1893. The intervention of an African Methodist Episcopal minister got her into Wilberforce College in Ohio, where she graduated with honours. The two churches united. Mokone's agent, James M. Dwane (1848-1915), was made the General Superintendent of the AMEC but in 1900 broke off and took his group into the Anglican Church, maintaining its quasi-independent identity as 'the Order of Ethiopia'.

A pattern of enclavement dominated the character of the missionary presence in the region, perhaps derived from the model of treating delinquents in Europe. African responses varied from loyalty to exit in rejection of the enclavement pattern. Nehemiah Tile (d. 1891) left the Wesleyans in Tembu-land in 1884; P. J. Mzimba abandoned the Presbyterians of Lovedale in 1890 just as Charles Domingo would exit from the Livingstonia Mission in Nyasa-land in 1908. African-American influence was important, as the visit of Bishop Henry Turner to South Africa in 1898 did much to galvanise the Ethiopian movement of the period to the consternation of the settlers. His liaison

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment