Penetration of Christianity into the Interior of East Africa 

Factor for the Spread of Christianity in the East African Interior

Initially, Christianity was concentrated at the coast because most missionaries lived at the coast due to urbanization and feared to come into the interior due to its remoteness.

However with time Christianity started penetrating deeps into the interior due to a number of factors as explained below.

  • They early exploratory works of early explorers like John Speke and Dr David Livingston inspired many missionaries to come into the interior to spread the gospel.
  • Competition for converts between the Christian missionaries and Arab Muslims also favored the spread of the gospel in the interior.
  • Competition for converts between the two Christian dominations i.e.Catholics and Protestants also made it easy for Christianity to penetrate the East African interior.
  • Missionary offering of education to the people of East Africa also attracted very many people to join the church.
  • In addition, missionaries offered health services where they treated only those who are converted which attracted more believers to join the church in order to receive health services
  • The weakness by African traditional religion especially during the Maji maji rebellion made many East Africans to join Christianity.
  • The 19th century social problems especially famine among the East Africans made many of them to run to church for survival leading to the expansion of Christianity in the interior.
  • The establishment of the ex-slaves rehabilitation centers in places like Bagamoyo, Rabai mpya etc made East Africans to look at the missionaries as good people hence joining Christianity.
  • Financial support missionaries received from their home countries also much boosted the missionary work thus the easily penetration of Christianity in the East African interior.
  • The translation of bible scriptures into local languages made many East Africans to understand the gospel hence the spread of Christianity in the interior.
  • The use of African converts as catechists, priests and evangelists helped to overcome the problem of missionary man power hence he penetration of Christianity into the interior.
  • The development of transport and communication networks inform of roads and railway lines eased the movement of the missionaries in different areas of the interior spreading Christianity.
  • The indigenization/Africanization of the church i.e. the missionary allowing some African practices by African Christians like circumcision attracted many into Christianity.
  • The role played by Bombay Africans when they moved across the interior spreading the gospel  inspired many Africans to join Christianity
  • The role of the 20thcentury ecumenical movement which aimed at uniting all Christians in east Africa also made Christianity to penetrate in the interior.
  • The security offered to the missionaries by the local government in East Africa made it easy.
  • The testimonies that were given by the new converts about their life inspired other interior people to join new religions.
  • The killing of Uganda martyrs in Buganda in 1886 made Christianity popular hence its wide spread.
  • The killing of Bishop James Hannington from Busoga disappointed the church hence its penetration to the interior.
  • The giving out of free Christian literature/ books to Christians enabled many of them to understand Christianity hence its wide spread.
  • The role played by African evangelists such as Apollo Kivebulaya and Yohannah Kitagata who moved through out East Africa spreading Christianity favored its spread.
  • The influence of the revival movement in east Africa in the 19thcentury (balokole movement) easily made Christianity to be spread in the interior.
  • The religious wars in Buganda also contributed to the spread of Christianity because Christians ran into hiding places where they ended up preaching to the pagans.
  • The abolition of slave trade by the missionaries made many East Africans to love them hence making Christianity to grow.
  • The invitation of the church missionaries by African kings like Mutesa 1 of Buganda made missionaries to spread their gospel with confidence and without fear.
  • The hospitality of some African tribes like Buganda who took good care of Christian missionaries made it easy for Christianity deep into the interior.

Qn. Asses/Explain/Discuss the factors that helped Christianity to penetrate in the East African interior easily (25 marks)

Why did the spread of Christianity slacken at the coast of Kenya between 1890 and 1920? (25 marks)

Factors That Slowed Down The Spread Of Christianity At The Coast Of Kenya Between 1890 And 1920

  • Between 1890-1920, the local chief of the wandigo tribe converted from Christianity to Islam with most of his tribesmen and women which made Christianity to slacken.
  • In 1895, there was a Muslim led rebellion of the wandigo tribe against the British and the Christians at the Kenyan coast which also affected the spread of Christianity negatively.
  • During the same period, the missionaries withdrew from the coastal areas to the interior of East Africa hence hindering the spread of the gospel at the coast.
  • Islam hadtaken strong roots at the coast and was quite difficult to out complete hence slackening the spread of Christianity.
  • Christianity was seen as a more foreign religion at the coast as compared to Islam that had many African related practices.
  • The early missionaries at the coast were more interested in exploration works than evangelization work making Christianity to slacken at the coast.
  • The establishment of colonialism at the coast made Africans more suspicious of the Missionaries than the Arabs and their Islam.
  • The construction and extension of the Uganda railway into the interior attracted more missionaries into the interior from the coast.
  • The continued use of foreign languages especially English by the missionaries at the coast led to language barrier problems hence hindering the spread of the gospel.
  • Christian life at the coast at that time was too cool, strict and difficult to catch with by the Africans.
  • The fall in slave raids in the interior attracted missionaries from the coast for interior evangelism.
  • The increased British protection towards the missionaries inspired the missionaries to penetrate into the interior for evangelism with less fear hence abandoning the coast.
  • The stiff competition for followers among the Christian mission societies led to missionary influx into the interior for followers.
  • The increased missionary interest to establish mission centres in Kikuyu and Buganda communities at that time made them to withdraw from the coastal areas.
  • The desire by the missionaries to engage in cash crop production led to their going into the interior from the coast hence slackening the spread of Christianity at the coast.
  • Existence of huge chunks of land in the interior for settlement and production by the missionaries pushed many of them to the interior from the coast.
  • The decline of slave trade at the coast for new strategic of getting followers hence going to the interior.
  • The establishment of colonialism in the interior provided for freedom of missionary evangelism which made missionaries move from the coast to the interior.
  • The too much coldness at the coast also forced the missionaries into the interior where the environment was abit warm and favorable for settlement.
  • The hospitality of the interior tribes especially the Baganda also attracted the missionaries from the coast which was ambit hostile to the interior.

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