CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES IN THE ESTABLISHMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF WESTERN EDUCATION IN COLONIAL KENYA UPTO 1920
Christian missionaries played a vital role in the introduction and development of Western education in Kenya. These missionaries began their activities here in the second half of the 19th Century. Although their main aim in coming to Africa was to Christianize a ‘dark and savage’ continent, the provision of rudimentary education was found inevitable. Missionaries had found out that, by having the ability to read the Bible and the hymn book, the early convert would be a valuable asset in getting more of one’s neighbours to Christianity. It would then appear, the role of Christian missionaries in providing western education to Africans was not by design but accidental. Should this assumption be correct, the entire phenomenon of western education as introduced and provided by Christian missionaries was flawed. In that case, they were to offer an improper education for as long as they were in control all by themselves.
From 1895 Kenya became a colonial enclave of Britain up to 1920. Kenya was referred to as the East Africa Protectorate. The construction of a railway line from Mombasa in 1895 to Kisumu in 1901 was a boom for both missionary and colonial government activities. Missionaries were able to spread out faster by opening more centres in the interior. On the other hand, the colonial administration was able to pacify resistant African groups. Regrettably for indigenous people too, the railway line also saw the in-flaw of European settlers and Asian groups. These aliens were to change the development of events to the disadvantage of Kenyan locals.
Missionary spread out
Inspired by the desire to embrace as many adherents as they could, Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries moved to almost all accessible and habitable regions in Kenya. The Church Missionary Society (CMS) led in this ambitious crusade. From 1844 John Ludwig Krapf of CMS began to explore the East African Coast and was joined in 1846 by Johan Rebman. They established their first mission station at RabaiMpya, among the Rabai people, near Mombasa. Later the CMS operated a station in Taita in 1895. Other CMS centres were started in the following places: Kahuruko (1901); Weithaga (1903); Kahuhia (1906); Mahiga (1908); Embu (1910) etc. A branch of the CMS also entered Western Kenya from Uganda and in 1903 had set up a mission station at Maseno. Holy Ghost Fathers set in at Mombasa in 1890 and a year later was also stationed at Bura. They got themselves a station in Nairobi in 1899. Their counterparts, the Consolata Fathers opened stations at Kiambu (1902), Limuru (1903) and Mang’u (1906). Roman Catholics also entered Kenya from Uganda and soon established centres at Kisumu (1903) and later at Mumias and Kakamega.
Other missionary groups that were pivotal in the spread to various parts of the country were: Evangelical Lutheran Mission of Leipzig (from Germany); African Inland Mission; church of Scotland; Friends African Mission (Quakers); Church of God Mission, the Nilotic Independent Mission, the Seventh Day Adventists and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.
Although with other unbecoming consequences for indigenous people the multiplicity of Christian church denominations stirred a rivalry that became a catalyst in the spread of churches and schools. Every other group scrambled for a sphere of influence. On the whole, by 1920 Christian missionary groups had ‘stuck out their necks’ as important players in the spread of western influences among indigenous people. By 1918, there were 16 missionary bodies active in the country. Roman Catholics and CMS had the largest proportion of schools for Africans. Between them, they controlled 46 station schools and 261 village schools.
Basically, the purpose behind the establishment of mission stations and schools was to spread Christianity. The...
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