[Marxism] Christianity and African Imperialism Query

Kwame Somburu kwamesom at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 9 23:27:46 MDT 2005


Re: Christianity and Africa

I am not familiar with that paraphrase quote re: the bible and land, but I 
heard this one many years ago.  "When the white man came to Africa, he had 
the bible and the black man had the land.  Now the black man has the bible 
and the white man has the land."

Harry H. Johnston, British imperialist overseer in Africa during the late 
19th and early 20th century wrote extensively on colonial rule.  I own one 
of his books: The Opening up of Africa, (another was loaned out (The 
Colonization of Africa) and never returned about 40 years ago, but it is 
available through  Amazon.Com,  In the Opening up of Africa he states: 
"During the 16th century, the main
thjought on the minds of the Christian popes and kings of Europe were to 
smite the infidel with a sword and plant Christianity in their minds by 
force."  In the latter book there is a section called Conclusions and 
Forecast where he states: "We now see the results of over 2000 years of 
invasion and settlements in Africa by outside superior races (Europeans).  
All of Africa is now under European control except for Liberia and 
Ethiopia."  He said that Liberia poses no threat because it is under the 
control of the United States, Firestone and Goodyear rubber companies, and 
that they will let Ethiopia alone providing it does not interfere in what 
they are doing to the rest of Africa.

Johnston also said: In the future we will have a black man with a white 
man's brain.  He will be trained under different civilizations, and taught 
to speak different languages, he won't have one of his own.  Religion is 
also mentioned in the book, I forgot any quotes.  He was considered an 
intellectual.  Dr. Dubois was apparently fooled by him in the early part of 
the 2oth century, because I read a few favorable comments about Johnston 
from him.  There is also the Catholic Story of Liberia; and Christianity, 
Islam, and the Negro, the latter written by Edward Blyden and Afro-Liberian 
scholar.  If I recall, or find out about any more sources of information, I 
will notify you.
I just remembered that Nkrumah said that he was a "Marxist Leninist and a 
non-denominational Christian."

Kwame Somburu: kwamesom at hotmail.com


>From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
>Reply-To: Activists and scholars in Marxist 
>tradition<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
>To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition 
><marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
>Subject: Re: [Marxism] Christianity and African Imperialism Query
>Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005 13:39:29 -0400
>
>Calvin wrote:
>>Hi,
>>
>>Can anyone recommend any books or articles, online or otherwise, dealing 
>>with the subject of British and European Christianity in colonial Africa?
>>
>>Does anyone know the quote (was it from Kwame Nkrumah?) that says 
>>something about how European Christians brough the bible to Africa and 
>>taught Africans to close their eyes and bow down and pray to God. When the 
>>Africans then opened their eyes, all of their land was gone.
>>
>>Thanks in advance.
>
>NY Review, February 21, 1974
>
>Mission Impossible
>By Neal Ascherson
>Livingstone
>by Tim Jeal
>
>Putnam, 427 pp., $10.00
>
>The upper Clyde has two gorges. In one of them, profit-sharing 
>industrialism was born, at the mills which Robert Owen built at New Lanark. 
>In the other, or rather in a stone house on its lip, missionary exploration 
>found its father. David Livingstone, dead 101 years ago on his knees in 
>Chitambo's village somewhere to the south-southeast of Lake Bangweolo, was 
>born here.
>
>The house, a gray vernacular hulk of a place with outside stair turrets, is 
>at Blantyre, close to Glasgow. It has become the Livingstone Museum; around 
>it, Presbyterians have laid out lawns. A café sells nonalcoholic drinks and 
>memorial teaspoons. Inside, there is a dark gallery where you pull down 
>levers to illuminate diorama scenes of Livingstone's life. The lion mauls 
>his arm; he outstares the wild men; he accepts the challenge of Stanley; he 
>dies, with faithful Susi and Chuma. After a few seconds, the light turns a 
>nostalgic yellow and fades down: the lever returns to its position and you 
>are returned to darkness, denied any permanent revelation.
>
>Some of the dwelling-rooms have been restored to their appearance of 1813, 
>the year of David Livingstone's birth. Here is the box-bed, the kitchen 
>range, the clock, and the neat dresser. The suggestion is of spare, hard 
>living much turned toward cleanliness and a few improving books, a Scottish 
>"Selbstbildnis." But Mr. Jeal, the author of this biography, points out 
>that matters for the Livingstone family were not so neat or improving. Nine 
>people—the parents and seven children—inhabited this "single kitchen 
>apartment house," or one-room slum. David lived here fourteen years, 
>working in the cotton mill from the age of ten as a "piecer" for over 
>twelve hours a day. After the work, though his fellow children mocked him, 
>he studied in that room for a further two hours. And from that mill and 
>room, he got himself to Anderson's College, Glasgow, and into the vocation 
>of medical missionary. As Jeal says, this was
>
>     …something that statistics alone made grotesquely improbable. Of all 
>the children put to work in mills during the first three decades of the 
>nineteenth century, less than ten per cent learnt to read or write with any 
>proficiency. Those who managed to do this and devote time to Latin, botany, 
>theology, and simple mathematics were virtually unheard of.
>
>Jeal calls Livingstone's reputation that of a "Victorian astronaut." But he 
>was twice a voyager: Was the distance from Loanda to Quilimane less than 
>the distance from "Shuttle Row" at High Blantyre to mission college in the 
>south of England, or the journey any less lonely? Livingstone left for 
>southern Africa a gaunt, apparently slow-witted and emotionless young man 
>with a Scots accent and a giant uvula which eventually had to be cut out so 
>that people could understand his sermons. He went to the London Missionary 
>Society's settlement at Kuruman, in what is now Botswana, and there—if he 
>had done what a missionary was supposed to do—he should have remained for 
>the rest of his useful life, laboring with his hands and hoping that, by 
>the end, thirty years' work might have converted a dozen BaKgatla 
>tribesmen.
>
>Perhaps, after all, it was the other missionaries who were the astronauts: 
>obedient to Mission Control in London, loyally performing the required 
>experiments by planting words in stony ground, reporting home with 
>synthetic optimism. Livingstone would never have done for Houston. He 
>thought Kuruman (forty communicants after twenty years' work) a failure, 
>and he was irritated by fellow missionaries. He resolved that "I shall 
>preach the gospel beyond every other man's line of things," and it was not 
>long before he was straying off on longer and longer journeys to the 
>unknown north.
>
>At Kolobeng, among the BaKwena (or "Bakwains," as he called them), he set 
>up his own mission. He married Mary Moffat and begat children, who grew up 
>there eating grubs and speaking better Sechuana than English. This was the 
>first day in Livingstone's creation. Then he began to wander northward 
>again, through malarial swamps toward the Zambesi. On some of these 
>terrible journeys he took his wife and family: they wasted away, shook with 
>fever; a baby was born and died. Livingstone, who possessed one of the 
>toughest constitutions even among Scotsmen, could not give them proper 
>sympathy in their suffering, which he involuntarily identified with some 
>moral weakness. He wanted to settle among the Makololo people, and to use 
>their Zambesi as the highway for civilizing commerce.
>
>This was the second stage of his work. Direct missionary work was now 
>forgotten. He would no longer dutifully plant the flag of Jesus in the dust 
>and have his picture taken beside it: he had now gone far enough to be out 
>of range of all Mission Control's expostulations. Livingstone still meant 
>to Christianize. But he thought to achieve that—he, and not the London 
>Missionary Society—by exploring and establishing routes into the interior. 
>European commerce would then ascend these routes: its purchases of goods in 
>"healthy plateau regions" would render the slave trade unnecessary. 
>Commerce and industry would also dissolve the structures of customary 
>society, which Livingstone had identified as the real obstacle to the 
>ideological offensive of Christianity.
>
>It was in this period that Livingstone walked across the continent, became 
>famous, abandoned the L.M.S. to become an honorary consul and a protégé of 
>the Royal Geographical Society, and found—back in Africa—that after all the 
>Zambesi could never be the highway of the Lord because of the rapids at 
>Cabora Bassa. He turned toward the Shire Highlands and Lake Nyassa. On his 
>recommendation, the disastrous Zambesi Expedition came out, led by a 
>muscular bishop, and was slaughtered by fever. Livingstone's reputation was 
>darkened, and his promises of a fertile, welcoming region in Zambesian 
>Africa were discredited.
>
>full: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/9595
>
>--
>
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