Problems faced by Christian Missionaries in East Africa

Christian missionaries in East Africa were faced with various problems which clipped their activities at times. These include:

They faced the problem of language barrier. This was because East Africa had a multiplicity of languages hence rendering communication between the missionaries and the local people very difficult.

There was a problem of the influence of Islam. Arabs being the first group of people to arrive at the coast and interior had deep rooted Islam into the people thus making it difficult for the people to easily adopt Christianity. For example, by the time Sir Edward Frere arrived in East Africa (1873) Rebmann had only 6 converts.

Existence of tropical diseases was yet another problem faced by the Christian missionaries. Tropical diseases like malaria, small pox, claimed many missionary lives thus making progress in their activities very difficult since they could be left very few in numbers.

Another hardship was caused by geographical barriers. These included hilly areas, rivers, lakes and forests. These hindered their free movement to various places thus a threat to their activities.

Divisions and quarrels between various missionary groups for example Catholics versus Protestants was a hindrance to their activities. This could create divisions and biases among the believers thus weakening their capacity to convert more converts.

Poor transport was a hindrance to the missionary activities in East Africa. This was due to undeveloped roads at the time to help in the movement of missionaries from one place to another.

Presence of hostile tribes in East Africa was also a problem that faced Christian missionaries. The Nandi and Masai who believed that strangers were not supposed to pass via their land could attack and kill many missionaries thereby reducing their numbers compared to the increasing number of converts.

The presence of wild animals was also a threat to the missionary activities in East Africa. Man enters in Tsavo National Park consumed and threatened many whites. This clipped their activities at times.

The missionaries faced the problem of lack of supplies. They for example lacked enough money, accommodation and drugs. This was because they originated from very far (Europe) thus making it difficult for them to have full time and constant supplies. Such put their lives at risk and could sometimes lead to death.

The Christian missionaries faced the problem of stiff contradiction and rivals between European missionaries and traditional Africans. Customs like polygamy, satanic worship, etc were deep rooted into African communities which proved a threat for the missionaries to successfully uproot them.