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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Is African Christianity from the West?

Written by: on March 16, 2020

Growing up in a family that was the first generation of Christian converts after the missionaries arrived in the Eastern part of Africa. We grew up with the do and don’ts principle of Christianity. We had good and bad morals. Bad morals were punishable by God, and that was a sin. We have grown up knowing Christianity is the only religion God listen and ordained by Him. Any other belief is not godly, and hence all are sinners. African religion, Islam, Hinduism, and any other is not a true God authenticated religion.

We have indeed had one of the earlier African Christians from the Northern part of Africa. But further central and the south was not aware of the Christian movement until missionaries from the West arrived during the colonial regime in the late 19th century. The east African country first heard of Christianity in the late 19th century, but South Africa heard it by the mid-18th century.   During the crusade period, Islam swept entire North Africa and wiped all Christian elements replacing them with Islam from the Middle East. The history of early Christianity was wiped out of Africa, and now 90% of the North African Countries are Islamic Nations. The countries in the central, south and part of west Africa became the slave market for the Western Countries, especially the United States. The Arabs carried this from the Eastern who were selling them to the Westerners.  Therefore, Mclaughlin, in her book Confronting Christianity, indicated that it is a common misconception that Christianity first came to Africa via white missionaries in the colonial era.[1] With no clear records or history to the Africans in the south who witnessed these first Africans, they cannot bear witness to the fact that they first experienced or tested Christianity through the white missionaries during the colonial era. This was the method we also received the truth of Christianity in Kenya. The crusades movement erased all the history of Christianity in Africa, and that painted a picture as the White missionaries were coming, that Africa was a dark continent that needed to be evangelized for Christ. The Christian movement experienced in Africa now were all established by the missionaries.

As Christianity was taking root in Africa, Islam was equally entering through the coastal towns, especially Eastern Africa. The Islam religion gained in because of trade that was going on, especially of the slave trade and other merchandise goods. The Indian community was brought in by the British colonial regime to build the railway line from the coast to inland, this led to the establishment of Hinduism and other Eastern religions. But the Eastern religion was not introduced to the Africans. It is believed that their gods would only accept themselves and not Africans. To this moment, the Eastern Religion of Hinduism and Buddhism have never been introduced to the Africans; neither have African dared to join them because they are exclusively for the Asian communities. I live in a town called Kisumu, which is the home of the majority of Indians in Kenya and all these religions converge in Kenya.

The Town experiences different types of prayers to different kinds of gods. Each group feels their God is the right one. The Christians feel they are the true faith, and their God is alive and accurate. The Asians believe the same with their God. Mclaughlin’s concerns about these religions are that the real consequences to disagreements about religious truth, or does religious truth simply boil to Cultural preferences? If I say, “Christianity is true, and Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism are not,” Is that like saying, “Stop smoking; it could kill you,” or it is more like saying, “My grandmother’s cooking is better than yours”?[2] The love for one another is not evident. The Asian community in Kenya is very successful in business than our Africans, and they look at the African and say your God seems not to be answering your prayers as ours is answering ours. The poverty level in African increases, and the Asian community thrives in business. This has caused a lot of confusion among Africans who are Christians over the Asians who are not. But Christianity has had something significant to the world and more so to the Africans and more so to the Kenyans. Christianity has transformed the African communities despite the colonial rule, enlightenment through education has created a significant change in life approach. Researchers have emerged through scientific development.

[1] (Mclaughlin 2019)

[2] (Mclaughlin 2019)

About the Author

mm

John Muhanji

I am the Director Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting. I coordinate all Quaker activities and programs in the Quaker churches and school mostly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The focus of my work is more on leadership development and church planting in the region especially in Tanzania.. Am married with three children all grown up now. I love playing golf as my exercise hobby. I also love reading.

One response to “Is African Christianity from the West?”

  1. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Hi John. Your history is so interesting, my friend. I appreciated your explanation of your family becoming first-generation Christians and knowing that Christianity is the one true faith. I found it interesting that the Eastern religion was not introduced to the Africans and that it is believed that their gods would only accept themselves and not Africans. With the Asian continent being so close in proximity to Africa, I would have assumed that Eastern religion would have been introduced first to the African nation. Thank God for the Christian missionaries who brought the one true faith to the African nation. Thanks for sharing, John.

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