to 'rhinoceros questions - awkward, thick-skinned, and horned, with a short sight, an evil temper, and a tendency to rush blindly upwind upon any alarm'. That was a swipe at the settlers who reserved a sports cup named the Kifaru (Rhinoceros) for themselves.1 Settlers implicated all whites by creating social and geographical boundaries between themselves and the indigenes. Ironies pervaded as white civilisation, envisioned as the redemption of Africans, held them back, chafing for self-expression.
Control and the quest for a monopolistic interpretation of Christianity occupied the centre of much missionary ideology. This controlling attitude affected the pattern of African responses. For instance, the Africa Inland Mission among the Kikuyu from 1895 recruited only personnel who demonstrated strong piety, personal conversion and passion for evangelism, and could fund themselves. But their piety demonised local cultures and created tight-knit separate communities of believers (athomi). The tension between them and the rest of the community was so strong that the Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o has described this type of Christianity as a River Between. After 1914 such tensions would intensify, splintering the Kikuyu nation into competing Christianities. Nevertheless, the Kikuyu would reject, not Christianity itself, but the mode of evangelisation practised by the missionaries. Much to the contrary, their nationalism contested the liberation offered by missionaries as being less than the translated Bible promised.2
Why did missionaries fail to disengage from the frontier mounted by the settlers? There appeared to be a strong evangelical reticence towards practical issues of social justice: for some it was the result of premillennial eschatology; for others it was the emphasis on the individual in their theology; for most, the openness that invited all people to be converted failed to dissolve the frontier of racial exclusion. The Anglicans and Scottish Presbyterians who were a part of the establishment were most inclined to accept the hegemony and justice of colonial rule. Most whites lived under fear of the African; the dark skin, large numbers and cultures steeped in alien religiosity frightened outsiders. Control measures were adopted as a survival technique.
From this perspective, the wave of'Ethiopianism' in Africa from i860 to the turn of the century may be viewed as an example of African response to colonial Christianity. According to a key figure, the Sierra Leonean medical doctor Africanus Beale Horton (1835-83), it was a response to the European nationalism of the period that resulted in the partition of Africa and the change in
1 Lonsdale, 'Mission Christianity', p. i96.
2 Lonsdale, 'Kikuyu Christianities'.
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