West Africa presently consists of 15 countries.The two island nations are the Cape Verde islands in the far west and former Portuguese holdings São Tomé and Principe farther south.Along the coast are Mauritania, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. The interior countries include Mali and Niger. Surveying the development, expansion, and effects of Christian faith in West Africa is a complex task. Several European nations practiced slavery, but also introduced Christian faith. As a result, two primary historiographical approaches emerge. Generally, the European approach to
Christianity in West Africa concentrates on missions and missionaries, identifying countries or regions where and when missions began. This western view often describes difficulties, methodologies, and advancements made by the missionaries. By contrast, the African perspective focuses primarily on key personalities among the indigenous peoples. They often point to the long-term effectiveness of African evangelists and movements in contrast to the limited access or patronizing approaches of European missionaries. The controversies that marked
certain aspects of this extensive history will be apparent in this entry. CHAPTER TWO 2.0 CHRISTIANITY BEFORE 19TH CENTURY
Christianity was introduced at Benin in the fifteenth century by Portuguese Roman Catholic priests who accompanied traders and officials to the West African coast. Several churches were built to serve the Portuguese community and a small number of African converts. When direct Portuguese contacts in the region were withdrawn, however, the influence of the Catholic missionaries waned and by the eighteenth century had disappeared.Although churchmen... [continues]
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