Original Research

Mistakes of Western Christian missions in Africa and related response, mid-19th to 20th Century

Mnyalaza T. Masuku
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2746 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2746 | © 2023 Mnyalaza T. Masuku | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 October 2022 | Published: 21 July 2023

About the author(s)

Mnyalaza T. Masuku, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Attempts to Christianise Africa could be divided into three epochs. The first was 1st to 7th centuries in North Africa by the imperial Rome. The second was 15th to 16th centuries in West and East Africa by the Portuguese. During this epoch, I also included Central Africa during the 16th to 18th centuries. All these waves did not enjoy great success because of internal frictions in church during the first epoch and the wrangle between Calvinistic expansion against the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) during the second epoch. The focus of this article is located within the third epoch which is mid-19th and 20th centuries by Western churches and mission societies in Africa.

Therefore, the author identified negative elements of colonial mission praxis in Africa and the African response. This article therefore seeks to critically assess the identified mission praxis and related responses. The identified responses will be divided into strategic and theological. With the understanding that the context has changed over the years, the author will thus conclude that the identified negative elements and responses could possibly be repeated if the church could be ignorant in her mission praxis today and going into the future.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: As a challenge to current and future missions, this article unearths the wrongs committed by Western Christian missions in Africa and the responses from Africa. It has intra-disciplinary implications for ecumenism, mission studies and the history of the church in Africa.


Africa; negative elements; Western churches; Christian missions; colonialism.


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