An evaluation of the historiography of Nkhoma Synod, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian

Kamnkhwani, Helleman Adson (1990)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 1990.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) represents a church initiated by missionaries of the Dutch Reformed Church of the Cape in 1889. The church was started at Mvera on the advice and with the guidance of the missionaries of thee Free Church of Scotland who started mission work in Malawi in 1875. The church spread rapidly, not least because of the assistance of indigenous members, teacher-evangelists, who spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ among their own people. The missionaries documented their ministry in the written form as well as writing reports and narratives about their work. The reports and even official documents were sent to their home boards to inform them about the progress of the work and also to encourage members to support them with prayers and funds. Thus, a written tradition initiated in a country where people had an oral tradition. This was the beginning of written sources on the mission of a "foreign" church and the beginning of an indigenous church. This led to technical problems, however. The missionary reports and books were written in one or even two of three languages: Dutch/Afrikaans, the language of the missionaries: English, the language of colonial rulers and other related missionaries and Chichewa, the language of the indigenous people among whom the missionaries worked. Valuable documents in Afrikaans cannot be read by the indigenous people. To compound the problem, these documents are housed in various places: South Africa, the country from where the missionaries camel Scotland, the mother country of the missionaries of the Free Church of Scotland with whom the missionaries of the DRG worked and Malawi, the country of the Achewa people who were Christianized. The language used and the fact that the documents are far removed from their origins means that they are not always accessible for research on the history of the CCAP (Nkhoma). Another problem is the methodology of African church history. The Europeans missionaries' reporting and documentation is one-sided and subjective. They wrote about their own activities and were not without ulterior motives and bias. Indigenous African participants were simply ignored in mission historiography, probably due to misconceptions or an unconscious feeling of superiority on the part of the missionaries or even other reasons such as that of colonialism.


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