Reasons for the success of missionaries in East Africa

The missionaries’ success was noted in the economic, political and social fields and these are discussed as follows:

The evils of slave trade made East Africans welcome missionaries as liberators. Their campaign against slave trade won them much support from different tribes in East Africa.

The support they got from some of the local chiefs and kings led to their success. For instance Muteesa I of Buganda and Mirambo of Nyamwezi all gave them protection as well as rights to do their work in their territories.

The earlier explores helped to map out potential areas of East Africa for smooth missionary work. For instance, H.M Stanley had identified Buganda as a hospitable community for the missionaries and they were later welcomed by the Kabaka of Buganda in 1877.

The support missionaries got from their home governments led them to success.  This was inform of finance and physical manpower for instance colonial governments  gave protection to the missionaries whenever they were challenged by local chiefs or other threats. For instance Captain Lugard supported the Protestants in the religious wars in Buganda.

Some missionary groups sought for alliances with African chiefs. Such treaties of friendship made their work easy since the chiefs would call on their subjects to take on the missionary teachings.

The missionaries’ efforts to translate the bible into several local languages helped them succeed for example Kraft translated the New Testament of the Bible into Swahili and wrote a Swahili dictionary and a Grammar book.

The developments that missionaries found in societies like Buganda favored their work. For example, infrastructure around Buganda areas like Namirembe, Lubaga and Kampala in general made missionary work of putting up schools, hospitals and churches easy.

The industrial revolution had provided such technology like the printing press which made printing of bibles and other academic work easy.

Their efforts in life saving services like medical care (Quinine) won them great admiration among the people of East Africa that few were ready to oppose them.

The missionaries’ practical skills enabled them to survive even when their supplies from home delayed. They for instance adopted agriculture as soon as they settled anywhere. This ensured steady supply of food.

They employed locals as porters, interpreters, cooks or security guards hence winning the loyalty of many.

The death of Dr. David Livingstone in 1873 and other earlier missionaries increased the determination by many groups to see missionary work succeed in Africa, and East Africa in particular. E.g. the London news paper wrote after his death, “the work for Africa must hence forth begin in earnest where Livingstone left it off.”

Establishment of resettlement centers for freed slaves e.g. at Bagamoyo and Frere town near Mombasa where skills like carpentry, and agriculture were taught. Such communities thus looked at missionary work as “a life- saving mission”