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Title: Joseph Booth, 1892-1919 : an evaluation of his life, thought and influence on religion and politics with particular reference to British central Africa (Malawi) and South Africa
Author: Kavaloh, B. M. G. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1991
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In this dissertation we attempt to assess Booth's life and thought and the influence he exerted in the religious and political history of Central and Southern Africa. Since 1958, when George Shepperson and Thomas Price brought Joseph Booth to the attention of the academic world for the first time, controversy about Booth has continued but there has not yet appeared a major study of his life. This research work is designed to fill this gap, at least partially. The thesis we wish to assert is that although Booth was often deeply involved in doctrinal issues relating to missions, the Sabbath and, to a lesser degree, the millennium, it was 'Africa for the African' that was constantly the centre of his attention to the end of his life. Indeed this theme of 'Africa for the Africans' undergirded virtually all his religious and political activities. This belief was grounded in his simple faith as to what was the clear message of the Bible about justice. Starting with the historical context, Chapter I deals briefly with the state and development of religion and politics in South Africa and British Central Africa (Malawi) in the 1890s. The purpose is to examine the socio-political setting which helped to shape Booth's missionary work. Chapter II sketches his life and career to provide a general background to the study of the major themes in his religious and political thought. Chapters III and IV examine in detail his fundamental religious views. It appears that in this area, Booth's approach to Scripture and its interpretation was very close to that of the sixteenth century radicals, the Anabaptists. Chapter V traces the emergence of Watch Tower Millenarianism in Central and South Africa. This section demonstrates that although Booth cannot be seen as a direct founder of the sect, his role nonetheless was not without significance. The men who took the central stage in the development of the movement were a number of his protéé, particularly Elliot Kamwana through whom an African version of the Watch Tower teaching spread in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Chapters VI and VII, an attempt is made to describe and analyze his 'Africa for the African' doctrine and show it as a precursor of modern Black Theology of Liberation. The slogan 'Africa for the African' is again assessed to show Booth's role in relation to African nationalism. This dissertation concludes with a case study regarding Booth and the MI5 and the implications that resulted from his pro-Africanstance, especially as it related to the Defence of the Realm Act 1914, Regulation 14B. The interest taken in him by the British security authorities, together with Booth's advancing years, rapidly curtailed his activities. This did not come, however, before Booth had left a permanent mark on the religious and political history of South and Central Africa.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available