Bombay is the third (3rd) most respected city in India after NewDelhi and Calcutta.
Bombay Africans were Africans ex-slaves who were rescuedby the British anti-slave patrol ship on the IndianOcean and they were taken to sharanpur near Bombay for rehabilitation.
During their stay in India, they were converted to Protestantism and were trained in different schools, trade and theology.
Some of the Bombay African who returned to African included William Jones, David George, Ishmael Semler etc. They mainly worked among the freed states, Frere town and those who came back also worked with Rebmann at Rabai mpya.
Prominent Bombay Africans William Jones
- William Jones was the most prominent Bombay African who worked at Rabai Mpya with Rebmann for some good time.
- In 1880, he was sent to Taita to help in doing missionary work among fellow Africans.
- In 1885, Bishop Hannington ordained him as a deacon at Rabai Mpya
- After his ordination, he was told to accompany Bishop Hanginton to Uganda
- Unfortunately, Bishop Hannington was arrested and imprisoned in Busoga for four days and then killed on orders of Mwanga before he reached Buganda kingdom.
- Willam Jones escaped and went back to Rabai mpya and told them of the Bishops murder in Busoga.
- He then became a pastor at Rabai Mpya and ministered to fellow Africans
- He is remembered for his accommodating spirit of the slaves who were escaping from their slave masters to Rabai
- BY 1888, Jones had resettled around 1000 ex-slaves at Rabai Mpya.
- In 1896, William Jones was ordained the arch deacon of Rabai.
Roles Played By Bombay Africans In The Spread Of Christianity In East Africa
Bombay Africans led to the spread of the church both at the coast and in the interior of East Africa as shown below
- They preached Christianity among fellow Africans at Rabai Mpya and Frere town hence converting many pagans to Christianity.
- They carried out missionary journeys into the interior of East Africa which also promoted wider coverage of Christianity in different centers
- They engaged the ex-slaves in a Christian life style of repentance, prayers, monogamy and baptism which also promoted Christianity in East Africa.
- Bombay Africans were easily accepted and listened to by fellow Africans hence easy understanding of the gospel message.
- They worked with the missionaries to translate the gospel into some local languages like Kiswahili, Luo and luganda which were easily understood by the Africans.
- Bombay Africans knew some local languages like Luo, Kiswahili, Luganda etc which they used in spreading the gospel to fellow Africans where the missionaries had experienced problems. They also knew some local places in the interior of East Africa where they easily reached out and proclaimed the good news.
- Bombay Africans condemned slave trade and slavery whose torture they had faced. This made them get a lot of support from fellow Africans who later got converted to Christianity.
- They boosted the missionary man power in East Africa that was not enough hence increasing the speed at which the gospel was spread.
- They guided the missionaries in the interior of East Africa in the spread of Christianity e.g. Bishop Hannington was led by William Jones to Uganda.
- They provided charity services to the needy Africans especially the freed slaves at Rabai Mpya.
Some Bombay Africans served as church leaders. E.g.William Jones served as a church leader at Rabai Mpya
Being employed and paid by the missionaries, Bombay Africans were admired by the Africans who also got converted to Christianity hoping to enjoy like the Bombay Africans.
They established some churches and mission centres in the interior of East Africa such as the sagula mission station which acted as the evangelical centre.
- They played the role of the mediators between Africans and Europeans which made missionaries to be accepted by Africans. E.g.William Jones introduced William prince of the C.M.S to the Taita people who had previously rejected him.
- They worked hand in hand with the missionaries complementing one another in the spread of the gospel. E.g. David George closely worked with Rebmann at Rabai Mpya.
- Bombay Africans knew the Africans likes and dislikes which made them plan accordingly to convert them to Christianity. Jones knew the Taita people which enabled him to penetrate them with the gospel with out much resistance.
- They encouraged the formation of Christianity education centre and they are credited to have been the fore runners of St. Paul’s theological college at Limuru.
- Bombay Africans opposed and condemned the missionary harsh treatment of the Africans in the camps which improved the African welfare and attracted many Africans to join Christianity.
- Bombay Africans had respect for some African cultural practices like circumcision among the kikuyu which made some Africans confident of joining the church.
- In conclusion, Bombay Africans did a lot as far as spreading the church was concerned. That’s why William Prince of the CMS commented that they were spiritually minded, faithful, and confident and had respect for the native Christianity.
Qn. Analyze the efforts/ contributions/ roles played by the Bombay Africans in the spread of the church in East Africa. (25 marks)