View Full Version : Book Review Book review: How race ruined missions in Nigeria

Mark Dawes, Jamaican Gleaner
Jan 20, 2007, 11:57 AM
<p><strong> <font size="4" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" color="#cc0000"> How race ruined missions in Nigeria </font><br />
<font size="1" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">published:
Saturday | January 20, 2007</font> </strong></p> <!-- Begin of Kontera div //-->
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong> Mark Dawes, Staff Reporter</strong></font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><img style="margin: 0px 10px;" align="left" src="http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20070120/news/images/Layout1_1_PEVDYWaribokoAM.jpg" /><strong><small>Wariboko </small></strong> </font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><em>'The
missionaries were not expected to aim higher than Africans. Because
they were to be treated as typical Africans, the Caribbean
missionaries, unlike their European counterparts, were not given a
medical chest containing quinine and anti-malarial drugs, nor were they
given sleeping bags.'<br />
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><em><strong>The contributions</strong><strong>
of Jamaicans to the growth and development of churches in Africa during
the 19th to early 20th century is not a well-known story in many local
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><em><strong>
But the evidence of these contributions is an auditable trail - one
which Dr. Waibinte Wariboko has followed and which has culminated in
the publication of his book </strong><strong><em>Ruined by 'Race': Afro-Caribbean Missionaries and the Evangelisation of Southern Nigeria, 1895-1925</em></strong><strong>. This paperback, 278-page work, was published by Africa World Press in July 2006.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">
Dr. Wariboko, a Nigerian, is a senior lecturer in the Department of
History and Archaeology at the Mona campus of the University of the
West Indies. His book was officially launched in Kingston last
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
book tells the story of how the Anglican Church in Britain recruited
Caribbean persons, mainly Jamaicans, to work in southern Nigeria to
work as missionaries. These missionaries felt they were being
ill-treated by the Church Missionary Society (the missions agency that
acted on behalf of the Church of England), and accordingly, they
returned to Jamaica in short order.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The book covers the period 1898-1925. Dr. Wariboko's work confirms that 38
persons from the Caribbean went to
southern Nigeria, of which there were one Barbadian and 37 Jamaicans.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Speaking with <strong>The Gleaner</strong>,
Dr. Wariboko gave a chapter-by-chapter overview. He stressed that
religious conviction was not a motive for writing the book, but his own
scholarly interest in the contributions of these Caribbean persons to
the growth and development of the church in southern Nigeria.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong>Two-year fellowship</strong></font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
book's genesis can be traced to information that came to his attention
when he was putting together a book on the evangelisation of New
Calabar - one of the trading states of the eastern delta of Nigeria. He
read what was available here on the work of these missionaries, and
scholarly investigation took him to Birmingham, England. He secured a
two-year fellowship and this culminated in <strong>Ruined by 'Race'</strong>.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The book has six chapters.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">In
chapter one, Dr. Wariboko explained the reasons offered for European
interest in the evangelisation of Africa, and in particular West
Africa. He said that &quot;At the end of the slave trade, Europeans were
intent on correcting the wrong afflicted on African conscience, African
mind and the African body.&quot;
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
recruitment and placement of Jamaican missionaries, he said, was the
product of collaboration among the Church Missionary Society, Church of
England in Jamaica, and the Niger Mission which was based in Nigeria.
The Church Missionary Society, he said, recruited missionaries at a
time when the 'Back to Africa Movement' was strong.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
historical evidence, he said, shows that the Church Missionary Society
did not show the recruits their contract of employment until they got
to Africa. In Nigeria, they were told that having arrived there, they
could not return to Jamaica, not even for vacation. </font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong>Contract document</strong></font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
recruits were told that they had to make Africa their home. The
contract document, Dr. Wariboko said, was negotiated by the then
Anglican Bishop of Jamaica, Enos Nuttall, after whom the Nuttall
Hospital in St. Andrew is named.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">&quot;The
trick was that if they made Africa, their home, then the Church
Missionary Society would pay them like an African, which was much lower
than their Caucasian missionary counterparts. The pay for one European
missionary could pay for 20 African missionaries, excluding health
benefits, transportation. However, the Jamaican missionaries, insisted
on being treated like their white European counterparts,&quot; Dr. Wariboko
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
UWI academic concluded that the missionary programme was intrinsically
built on race sentiments. The Church Missionary Society, he continued,
mistakenly assumed that blacks in Jamaica were of the same mindset and
temperament as those in Africa.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">By
1923, all who had left Jamaica to go to Nigeria as missionaries had
resigned. Futhermore, those Jamaicans who were preparing to go on the
Nigerian mission field, on learning of both the contractual obligations
and the experiences of those who had gone before them, flatly refused
to go, Dr. Wariboko said.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The book's second chapter deals with the actual training given to the missionary recruits.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong>Training</strong></font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">&quot;The
training programme was to convert them to black Englishmen,&quot; Dr.
Wariboko said. The training was done at Mico Teachers' College and
later at the Church Theological College located then at Caledonia
Avenue, St. Andrew. The training, he said, sought to impart European
values to the West Africans. The trainers of the missionaries had
little regard for anything that was uniquely African. Christianity was
equated with civilisation. </font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">This
training was aided by the fact that those being trained had significant
sympathies to the Eurocentric view of Christianity as being the essence
of civilisation. Hence, he said, that which was peculiarly African, the
black heritage meant little to both the missionary recruits or those
who were training them.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
social background of the missionary recruits is the focus of chapter
three. Dr. Wariboko said most of the recruits came from solid
middle-class backgrounds. Most were born into Christian families and
were pupil teachers. Most also belonged to the St. Andrew Brotherhood
(men's fellowship of the Anglican Church) or a humanitarian/civic
organisation that was affiliated with the Church of England.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Some
of the recruits got interested in a missionary life because of parents
who had discussed their African heritage. For others, the drive to
become missionaries was in part born by their curiosity about Africa,
which had been piqued during formal elementary schooling. The chapter,
Dr. Wariboko said, also describes some of the ideological baggage that
the missionaries carried with them to the continent.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong>Grounded in race</strong></font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">It is
hard to escape the conclusion that the contract that the missionaries
were given was grounded in race, said Dr. Wariboko. He makes that case
emphatically in chapter four of his book. According to the contract
document itself, missionaries to southern Nigeria were required to be
black, and to ensure that such was the case, each applicant had to
submit a photo of himself.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
contract, Dr. Wariboko said, &quot;explicitly excluded persons of mixed
blood. They felt that being of the same complexion as the Africans
would make absorption much easier.&quot;
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
missionaries were not expected to aim higher than Africans. Because
they were to be treated as typical Africans, the Caribbean
missionaries, unlike their European counterparts, were not given a
medical chest containing quinine and anti-malarial drugs, nor were they
sleeping bags.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
fifth chapter identifies some of the activities and legacies of the
Caribbean missionaries. According to Dr. Wariboko, it mentions several
churches these Caribbean missionaries built. But it also notes some of
the ills done by black missionaries which were similar to that of their
European counterparts. </font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong>Doing harm</strong></font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
major difference, Dr. Wariboko said, was that the Caribbean
missionaries thought they were doing good when, in fact, they were
doing harm. Among the major accomplishments of the Jamaicans who went
to southern Nigeria was the establishment of the first teacher training
college in that section of the country, Dr. Wariboko noted.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The
chapter cites examples of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of
the missionaries, who creatively raised funds in Jamaica, Nigeria and
England - notwithstanding the disapproval of the Church Missionary
Society - to support their labours - in the mission field.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">One
missionary, Walter Brown, &quot;raised 200 in Jamaica for St. Mary's Church
in Nigeria and raised in Jamaica 100 to build a school - all against
the advice of the Church Missionary Society that he should not do so,&quot;
Dr. Wariboko noted.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Another
missionary, called Blackett, was responsible for revising the education
code of the Church Missionary Society, and worked to restore high
educational standards in colonial Nigeria. He did this at a time before
colonial Nigeria became particularly interested in education.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Dr.
Wariboko said that a lot of the work of Caribbean missionaries was
credited to their European counterparts in official records of the
Church Missionary Society. But, he said, the Caribbean missionaries'
contribution can hardly be disputed, as they left a trail in the
letters that they wrote seeking funds in the <strong>Jamaica Times</strong> newspaper, <strong>The Daily Gleane</strong>r, and the <strong>Anglican Diocesan</strong> magazines.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong>Socioeconomic realities</strong></font></p>
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">In
chapter six, Dr. Wariboko seeks to place the legacy of the Caribbean
missionaries in perspective. His conclusion is that Africa
consciousness is not homogenous, especially in the diaspora. He said,
too, that any massive move to settle in Africa from the diaspora is
dependent in the main on socio-economic realities there, and less on
ideology that drives such a desire.
<p><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">&quot;The
study has implication for race consciousness, Africa consciousness, and
the whole concept of Africa being a homeland. It deals with how
socio-economic conditions can affect how one defines race,&quot; Dr.
Wariboko said.
<p>&nbsp;</p><br><br><a target="_blank" href=http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4773><b>..Read the full article</b></a><br>