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.
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 When direct Portuguese contacts in the region were withdrawn, however, the influence of the Catholic missionaries waned and by the eighteenth century had disappeared.Although churchmen in Britain had been influential in the drive to abolish the slave trade, significant missionary activity was renewed only in the 1840s and was confined for some time to the area between Lagos and Ibadan. The first missions there were opened by the Church of England's Church Missionary Society (CMS). They were followed by other Protestant denominations from Britain, Canada, and the United States and in the 1860s by Roman Catholic religious orders. Protestant missionaries tended to divide the country into spheres of activity to avoid competition with each other, and Catholic missions similarly avoided duplication of effort among the several religious orders working there. Crowther, a liberated Yoruba slave, had been educated in Sierra Leone and in Britain, where he was ordained before returning to his homeland with the first group of missionaries sent there by the CMS. This was part of a conscious "native church" policy pursued by the Anglicans and others to create indigenous ecclesiastical institutions that eventually would be independent of European tutelage. The effort failed in part, however, because church authorities came to think that religious discipline had grown too lax during Crowther's episcopate but especially because of the rise of prejudice. Crowther was succeeded as bishop by a British cleric. Nevertheless, the acceptance of Christianity by large numbers of Nigerians depended finally on the various denominations coming to terms with local conditions and involved participation of an increasingly high proportion of African clergy in the missions.
2.1 RELIGIOUS FAITH OF WEST AFRICANS BEFORE THE COMING OF CHRISTIANITY IN 19TH CENTURY
The influence of Europe on West Africa during the 18th century was twofold. On the one hand, Africans were captured and sold into slavery. From the 500,000 slaves transported to America...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document