Race, politics and evangelisation : British Protestant missionaries and African colonial affairs, 1940-63
This dissertation examines the response of British Protestant missionaries to certain
political developments from 1940, when the Colonial Development and Welfare Act was
passed, to 1963 by which time Britain's African colonies had all but become independent.
It focuses in particular on events in and relating to east and central Africa, and examines
the effect on missions of their involvement in controversy on the subject of race.
The race question mattered to missionaries because it affected their work in Africa.
But from the early 1940s onward they became increasingly aware of its ramifications
throughout the Empire and the Commonwealth. In Britain missionaries allied with
churchmen in attempts to draw public attention to racial injustice in Britain 's African
colonies. These efforts constituted part of a wider international ecumenical engagement
with race, the aim of which was fellowship between individuals, missions and churches.
British missionary attempts (individually and collectively and in Britain as well as
Africa) to promote racial tolerance during the period under review were nevertheless, it is
argued, often compromised by the ambivalence of the missionary relationship with the
imperial and colonial state. Committed to the building up of the indigenous church - and
its leadership - many missionaries reacted uneasily nonetheless to the growth of African
nationalist movements, which numbered Christians amongst their supporters. Although
wary of being identified with the state, they continued during much of this period to regard
Empire a the best guarantor of the interests of all races in east and central Africa (and in
outh Africa also), an attitude at odds with that of other religious and secular
humanitarians in Britain. Only from 1955-56 as their unease grew regarding colonial
affairs in Kenya and central Africa, did missionaries gradually and in greater numbers
become more reconciled to the possibility of 'end of empire' in these territories.