Making of Mission Communities in East Africa, The
Anglicans and Africans in Colonial Kenya, 1875–1935
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The Making of Mission Communities in East Africa calls into question a number of common assumptions about the encounter between European missionaries and African societies in colonial Kenya.
The book explores the origins of those communities associated with the Anglican Church Missionary Society from 1875 to 1935, examines the development within them of a "mission culture," probes their internal conflicts and tensions, and details their relationship to the larger colonial society.
Professor Strayer argues that genuinely religious issues were important in the formation of these communities, that missionaries were ambivalent in their attitudes toward modernizing change and the colonial state alike, and that mission communities possessed substantial attractions even in the face of competition with independent churches.
Dr. John Lonsdale of Trinity College, Cambridge has said that "It is a sensitive piece of revisionist history which breaks down the simple dichotomy of 'missions' and 'Africans' commonly found in earlier historiographies—and even in the period of profound crisis over female circumcision in Kikuyuland. In this, Professor Strayer shows convincingly how mission communities could be preserved from destruction by principled divisions between Africans as much as between their white missionaries. He has pursued themes rather than events and has therefore been able to make remarkably intimate observations of mission communities which were following their own internal patterns of growth, yet within the context of a deepening situation of colonial dependence.
Robert W. Strayer's background includes graduate training at the University of Wisconsin, two years teaching in Ethiopia, and research in both Kenya and England. Currently he is teaching African, imperial and world history at the State University College, Brockport, New York. His previous publications include a high school text, Kenya: Focus on Nationalism (Prentice-Hall, 1975) as well as numerous scholarly articles, papers and book reviews. His most recent article was "Mission History in Africa: New Perspectives on an Encounter," African Studies Review (April, 1976).