CMS Niger Mission Agents’ Field Practice

  • Femi J. Kolapo
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This chapter explores the missionaries’ cultural engagement strategies. It analyzes how the evangelistic practices of Crowther's agents included the use of motifs and idioms that had analogous local counterparts. Hence, while their messages were partly adversarial, some of their own evangelistic methods in critical areas paralleled thought structures and numinous practices rooted in African local culture. Crowther’s missionaries’ instruments of evangelism—symbolic and material—were compatible with local expectations for, and expression, of indigenous spirituality. Reflective of the missionaries' own indigenous African provenance, this facilitated the translation of aspects of the missionary message and evangelistic program into a medium structurally and ritually familiar to the people and seemingly fitting into their cultural framework.


  1. Ajayi, J. F. A. Christian Missions in Nigeria, 1841–1881: The Making of a New Elite. London: Longman, 1965.Google Scholar
  2. Ajayi, J. F. Ade A Patriot to the Core: Bishop Ajayi Crowther. Spectrum Books, 2001.Google Scholar
  3. Ajayi, J. F. Ade. “From Mission to Church: The Heritage of the Church Mission Society.” International Bulletin of Mission Research Vol. 23, No. 2 (1999): 50–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrewes, Janet. Bodywork: Dress as Cultural: Tool Dress and Demeanor in the South of Senegal. Leiden: Brill 2005.Google Scholar
  5. Ayandele, E. A. African Historical Studies. London: Frank Cass 1979.Google Scholar
  6. Bosman, Willem. A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea. London: Cass, 1967.Google Scholar
  7. Bp. Samuel Crowther. Letters & Papers. 1869–72 Niger mission. C.A3/ O 4 (a) Bishop Samuel Ajayi.Google Scholar
  8. C. Paul. to Rev. C. C. Fenn. Lukoja. Sept. 19th, 1871. Report for the year ending Sept. 30: 1872.Google Scholar
  9. Charles Paul Niger Mission. C.A 3/028 Journals and Reports 1866–79.Google Scholar
  10. CMS G3/A3/1889/118, 16/7/1889, Brooke to Lang.Google Scholar
  11. Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution, Volume 1: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crowther Samuel C A/2 031_ (1–112) Feb 44–Dec 50.Google Scholar
  13. Gallagher, John. “Fowell Buxton and the new African policy, 1838–42,” Cambridge Historical Journal, 10 (1950): 36–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gramsci, Antonio. Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (New York, International Publishers, 1971).Google Scholar
  15. Hancile, Jehu J. “Missionaries and Revolutionaries: Elements of Transformation in the Emergence of Modern African Christianity.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 28, No. 4(2004):146–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hastings, Adrian. The Church in Africa, 1450–1950 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  17. Hegel, G. W. F. The Philosophy of History. Kitchener. Batoche Books, 2001.Google Scholar
  18. James Thomas The Journals of Church Missionary Society Agent, James Thomas in Mid-nineteenth-century Nigeria, Intro., Femi J. Kolapo. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  19. Kaplan, Louise J. Cultures of Fetishism. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Keane, Webb. “On the materiality of religion.” Material Religion, 4:2, (2008): 230–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kerestetzi, Katerina. “Making Spirits: Materiality and Transcendence in Contemporary Religions.” Material Religion, 11:3, (2015): 404–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Knight, William., ed. Memoir of H. Venn. The Missionary Secretariat of Henry Venn. London: Seeley Jackson and Halliday, 1882.Google Scholar
  23. Kolapo, Femi J. “Ethnicity and Identity at the Niger-Benue Confluence during the 19th-century Nupe Jihad.” In Slavery in Africa and the Caribbean: A History of Enslavement and Identity Since the 18th Century, edited by Olatunji Ojo and Nadine Hunt), 9–37. New York; I. B. Tauris, 2012.Google Scholar
  24. _____. “Military Turbulence, Population Displacement and Commerce on a Slaving Frontier of the Sokoto Caliphate: Nupe, c. 1810–1857.” Ph.D. Diss., York University, 1999.Google Scholar
  25. Lee, Zang Hoon. “A Study of Indigenous Church Theory: The Advocators and their Thoughts,” Academic & Musicological Mentor. School of Intercultural Studies, Korean Studies. Fuller Theological Seminary. 2007.Google Scholar
  26. Logan, Peter Melville. Victorian Fetishism. Intellectual and Primitives. Albany: SUNY Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  27. Newberry, Warren B. “Contextualizing Indigenous Church. Principles: An African Model,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 8:1 (2005):95–115.Google Scholar
  28. Niger Mission C A.3/O 4 (a) Bp. Samuel A. Crowther. Letters. 1864–8.Google Scholar
  29. Niger Mission C.A3/023 Archd. H. Johnson. Journal 1877.Google Scholar
  30. Niger Mission. C.A3/04(b) Bp. Samuel A. Crowther. Journals & Reports. 1860–79.Google Scholar
  31. Page, Jesse. Samuel Crowther: The Slave Boy who Became Bishop of the Niger. Fleming H. Revell, 1892.Google Scholar
  32. Pietz, William. “The Problem of the Fetish, IIIa: Bosman’s Guinea and the Enlightenment Theory of Fetishism.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 16 (Autumn, 1988):105–124.Google Scholar
  33. _____. “The Problem of the Fetish, I”, Anthropology and Aesthetics No. 9 (Spring, 1985): 5–17.Google Scholar
  34. _____. “The Problem of the Fetish, II: The Origin of the Fetish.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics No. 13 (Spring, 1987): 23–45.Google Scholar
  35. Porter, Andrew. “Commerce and Christianity’: The Rise and Fall of a Nineteenth-Century Missionary Slogan.” The Historical Journal, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Sept. 1985): 71–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. _____. “Evangelical Enthusiasm, Missionary Motivation and West Africa in the Late Nineteenth Century: The Career of G. W. Brooke”. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History vol. 6, no. 1(1977): 23–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Porter, Andrew. Religion versus Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  38. Pythias J. Williams, Niger Mission CA3/042 Pythias James Williams. Letters & Journals. 1880.Google Scholar
  39. S. A. Crowther, Niger Mission. C.A3/04 (b) Rev. Samuel A. Crowther. Journals & Reports 1857–72.Google Scholar
  40. S. Crowther, Niger mission. C.A3/ O 4 (a) Bp. Samuel Crowther. Letters & Papers. 1869–72.Google Scholar
  41. Samuel A. Crowther, Report of Bishop Crowther of the Niger Mission to October 1874. Niger Mission. C.A3/04(b) Bp. Samuel A. Crowther. Journals & Reports. 1860–79.Google Scholar
  42. Samuel Adjai Crowther, “Information on the Progress of Islam in Western Africa.” CMS Rn File 25/88.Google Scholar
  43. Schon, J. F., and S. Crowther. Journals of the Rev. James Frederick Schon and Mr. Samuel Crowther who accompanied the Expedition up the Niger in 1841 with a new Introduction by Prof. J.F.A. Ajayi. London. 1970.Google Scholar
  44. Stanley, Brian. “‘Commerce and Christianity’: Providence Theory, the Missionary Movement, and the Imperialism of Free Trade, 1842–1860.” The Historical Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Mar. 1983): 71–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stock, Eugene. The History of the Church Missionary Society. Its Environment, Its Men and Its Work. Vol. II. London: Church Missionary Society, 1899.Google Scholar
  46. T. C. John. Letters & Reports 1865–79. Niger Mission C.A 3 /021.Google Scholar
  47. T.C. John, Report of Lokoja Station for the year ending September 30.1879.Google Scholar
  48. Thomas, Louis-Vincent. Les Diola: essai d’analyse fonctionnelle sur une population de Basse-Casamance. 2 vols. Dakar: IFAN, 1959/1960.Google Scholar
  49. Walls, Andrew F. “Venn, Henry.” In The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by J. D. Douglas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.Google Scholar
  50. Williams, C. Peter. “The Necessity of a Native Clergy: The Failure of Victorian Missions to Develop Indigenous Leadership (The Laing Lecture for 1990),” Vox Evangelica 21 (1991): 33–52.Google Scholar
  51. Williams, C. Peter. The Ideal of the Self-Governing Church: A Study in Victorian Missionary Strategy. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1990.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Femi J. Kolapo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GuelphGuelphCanada

Personalised recommendations