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Sources from the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World

This project brings together a wide range of extremely rare printed periodicals describing missionary work in East and South Africa, 1874-1934. It features:

Nyasaland Mission Reports, 1874-1887
Nyasaland and Kikuyu – The Quarterly Review, 1874-1908
Kikuyu News, 1908-1934
East Africa Reports,1891-1908
Outposts, 1906-1909
Livingstonia Reports, 1904-1909

These provide a richly textured account of life in Africa, from descriptions of scenery and local customs, to accounts of the impact of the trafficking of liquor on people in Africa and reports on colonial disputes between European powers. There are also investigations of topics including High Churchism, flogging, African Fever, Malaria, Slaving and Slavery.

The Nyasaland Mission Reports describe the progress towards establishing a mission in Africa from the first proposal and attempts to raise funds, through an account of the expedition and interaction with natives. There are details of Lake Nyasa and the local flora and fauna, as well as weather reports, records of activities and of the extension of the mission to Mount Zomba. There are also reports of the appointment of the first lady missionary to the Blantyre Mission (as it became known). There are also more horrific accounts such as Captain Elton’s description of an encounter with a slave gang. After the account the commentator notes:

“When we read of such atrocities, we are not surprised when we are told that the slaver’s path is strewed and smells with corpses; and that the thousands chained, starved and driven by torture, dwindle into hundreds before the survivors crawl to their miserable marketplace.”

The Quarterly Review for Nyasaland and Kikuyu, 1874-1908, and the Kikuyu News, 1908-1934, run in sequence and – supplemented by many handwritten notes and other ephemeral inclusions - describe the Church of Scotland’s involvement in African Missions from May 1874 when the General Assembly first recommended a mission following the accounts of explorations of the interior of Africa by Livingstone, Burton, Speke and others. In 1876 Blantyre was chosen as the mission centre as they were anxious to preach to “the dense population on the shores of the Nyasa.” The Rev Duff McDonald was the first chosen missionary, but he was recalled in 1881 as “He seemed to the Committee greatly to be blamed in the matter of the execution and several of the floggings.” Later there are interesting articles on topics such as:

• The Arabs in Central Africa
• Fatal Effects of Malaria in Equinoctial Africa
• Deaths of Missionaries of the Baptist Missionary Society on the Congo
• The Livingstonia Mission
• Slaving and Slavery in our British Protectorates
• Organization of the Native Church
• Life and work in British Central Africa
• Notes on educational work
• Notes on hospitals

Outposts, 1906-1909, was published by the Church of Scotland Foreign Mission Committee and ran for four volumes. All are included here. These describe missionary work in both Africa and India. As well as providing accounts of the movements of missionaries the paper provides real insights into missionary life and the challenges that it posed. For instance, in the first issue there is a detailed account of “A woman’s work in the Kikuyu Highlands, British East Africa” while a later issue describes the work of the Mission Hospital in Blantyre. There are also long and revealing letters from missionaries in Kikuyu and Sikkim.

East Africa Reports, 1891-1908 and Livingstonia Reports, 1904-1909, both provide detailed analysis of the progress of missions in Africa, with accounts of matters such as the number of pupils at the Overtoun Instution (a labour centre in Livingstonia) and of the Industrial work of the Institution “including agriculture, building, quarrying, carpentry, engineering, blacksmith work, printing and tailoring.” By 1909, the Livingstonia Reports recall the establishment of 9 churches, 563 preaching stations, with 6225 communicants, 7500 candidates for baptism, 661 schools, 1260 teachers, 58,000 scholars and 20,000 at Sabbath Schools.

This will be an instructive source for all those interested in the history of Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanganyika and Zambia – as well as for those interested in African-European interaction and the spread of Christianity in Africa.


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