CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES IN EAST AFRICA
Role of christian missionaries in the colonisation of East Africa
(1). Missionaries signed treaties which were later used by colonialists to take over colonies e.g. Tucker, a British Missionary interpreted the 1900 Buganda Agreement to the regents of Kabaka Daudi Chwa II. This led to loss of political, economic and social powers to the British protectorate government. Sir Harry John stone who signed on behalf of the British government confessed that;
“I John stone shall be bound to acknowledge the assistance offered to me by the missionaries especially the CMS. Without their assistance on my side, I do not think Uganda’s chiefs would agree to the treaty which practically places their country and land in the British hands”.
(From partition of Africa by Prof Sempebwa).
(2). Missionaries supplied information to the colonialists which they utilized to plan how to effectively impose their colonial rule on how to crash the African resistance. In the religious wars in Buganda, the British fought behind the Protestants. Colonel Saddler a British commander once said;
“The CMS was the first in the field …. Its connection with the political history of early days, the difficulties, it successfully surpassed and the assistance it rendered to the colonial government at the time of the rebellion are too well known to need recapitulation. There has been complete accord between the colonial government and Christian missionaries and in no single instance has there been a friction of any kind. I would wish to thank them for willing fully placing at my disposal a fund of information they have regarding the country and its people”.
(3). In fact there was a reciprocal relationship between missionaries and the colonialists that is why missionaries laid the ground work before the partitioners offered missionaries protection for the success of their evangelization mission. It’s here that words Reverend Willis are partnent;
“We as missionaries are indebted to the presence of the colonial government in this country and we would not forget when we reckon upon the triumph of the cross in Uganda. In how large a measure, these victories have been paved for us by others in the colonial government with its officers around us. We owe a peaceful country”.
(4). The Church missionary society managed to raise enough funds for Imperial British East African Company for its staying in Uganda for at least 2 or more years. The church missionary society and Captain Lugard viewed that the company’s withdraw would live the British and the protestant party in a dangerous position versus Moslems.
(5). Missionaries enhanced the growth of tropical raw materials like coffee, cotton to satisfy the British industrialists urge but disguising everything in Christianity. Bishop K. Boroup for example introduced cotton in Uganda.
(6). They appealed to their home governments for protection in case of attack. It is in this light that Britain came to Uganda during the religious wars of 1884-1892 and later occupied Uganda.
(7). They created a collaborating class by luring it religiously and materially. This class helped colonialists to fight resistors despite the fact that they were all Africans.
(8). In their evangelization role, they brain washed Africans with biblical teachings as “love your neighbor as you love yourself”, “blessed are the humble for the kingdom of God is theirs”, etc. With these preaching’s they made potential resistance important.
(9). Religion was a mechanism of divide and rule. The converts and the non-converts hated each other which caused division to the advantage of the Europeans.
(10). Collaboration with chattered companies, European Christian missionaries and their converts worked hand in hand with the Imperial British East African Company to defeat Kabalega’s resistance.
(11). Missionary stations served as military bases from where the European colonial forces launched attacks on the resisting Africans. African Lugard used old kampala hill as a military base against Kabalega.
(12). Mission stations served as colonial government headquarters. The established mission infrastructure was used to help in the establishment and sustenance of European colonial rule.
(13). Colonialists lacked skilled manpower, so the missionaries by design or accident were very faithful servants of the colonial government i.e. they were Colonial government servants.
(14). They created a peaceful atmosphere for the germination of colonialism in areas of hostility. This is because they emphasized the centralized leadership where peace and obedience were expected.
(15). Missionaries also trained manpower through introduction of farming education which was used by colonialists to exploit the land. This was done through teaching those academic subjects and manual skills like use of a plough and how to grow coffee.
(16). They acted as interpreters to colonial powers e.g. Tucker in the 1900 Buganda agreement.
(17). Through conversion of the Buganda chiefs and pages before Buganda commoners it meant that each party i.e. the Church Missionary Society and France had gained converts. This was a political security of sympathy to the Christian missionaries as against the Kabaka in Buganda’s leadership. This indirectly undermined the Kabaka’s authority and respect i.e. his traditional power base was being eroded.
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