The contributions of missionaries to the development of South Africa

The contributions of missionaries to the development of South Africa

  • Missionaries advocates for abolition of slave trade and slavery through laws like the 50th ordinance of 1828 which restored the civil liberties of the Africans.

  • Missionaries provided protection to the Africans who were running away from their brutal Boer masters. In fact the missionaries gave protection to any African who fled difficult unpaid for service of the Boers.
  • Missionaries set up stations from where the freed slaves were taken care off and taught modern farming skills and carpentry. For example Dr van Der Kemp set up a camp at Bethels for freed slaves.
  • Missionaries spread Christianity to the people of South Africa. They taught the gospel in many parts and converted many to Christianity.
  • Missionaries also trained Africans into catechists .These Africans were trained to read, write and to translate the Bible into local languages.

  • Missionaries built missions and trained Africans into priests. For example John Brownlee and William Thompson set up missions east of Pondo land.
  • Missionaries promoted western education in South Africa. For example George Schmidt of Moravian missionaries set up schools for the Khoikhoi where they leant European farming methods, carpentry among others.
  • They set up health centres and hospitals to treat Africans mistreated by the Boer masters.
  • They fought for the restoration of the civil rights of the Africans by passing the laws for example the 50th ordinance of 1828.
  • Missionaries also acted as political advisers to some African leaders. For example. Casalis, Arbansset Gosseline of Paris Evangelical Missionary Society were advisors of King Mosheshe.

  • Missionaries under valued African cultures by calling them anti Christianity, backward and primitive. For example traditional initiation ceremonies were rejected.
  • Missionaries also took part in Africa struggles against the Dutch.For example Dr living stone was suspected of supplying guns to Africans to protect them from Boer states
  • Missionaries also promoted colonization in South Africa. They did this by softening the hearts of Africans using their preaching. For example blessed are the humble for theirs is the kingdom of God.
  • Missionaries promoted legitimate trade in the interior of South Africa. Different missionary groups introduced industrial products in exchange for African products.
  • Missionary stations developed into towns. For example the present day Port Elizabeth developed from Bethelsdarp a station built in 1802 by Dr de Kemp.

  • Missionaries reasoned that all people were equal and human beings. In fact Dr De Kempt married a coloured woman whose Mather had been a slave.


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