1887

oa Historia - James Read en die Tlhaping, 1816-1820

 

Abstract

James Read and the Tlhaping, 1816-1820. In South African historical writing, James Read (1777-1852) is remembered mainly as the ""philanthropist"" who was responsible for the ""Black Circuit""; his missionary aims. Work and methods, particularly among the Tlhaping, have been neglected. Read's views on missionary work differed considerably from those of his colleagues. Firstly, his approach to mission was not characterised by an excessive notion of cultural and social superiority, as was the case with his well-known successor, Robert Moffat. Consequently, he did not overtly link conversion to a demand for westernisation. Secondly, Read was convinced that evangelisation should be accompanied by practical work; in sum, the ""Bible and the plough"" should go together. This approach permitted Read access to Tlhaping society. He was willing to comply with the requirements of the chiefdom for European technology. He repaired women's shoes, hunted buffaloes for Tlhaping chiefs and gave presents to influential Tlhaping. Moreover, it appears that Read did not openly condemn Tlhaping customs and practices, which made him personally acceptable to the chiefdom. Despite this, the Tlhaping largely rejected Christianity, since this religion proved to be no more functional than their own. They were willing, though, to adopt certain Christian practices when they were compatible with their customs. Ironically, despite his tolerance, Read contributed to the disruption of Tlhaping society. By 1817, chief Mothibi had become dependent on the missionary, to the extent that he lost his influence as well as the support of some sections of the Tlhaping confederation.

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/content/hist/35/1/AJA0018229X_796
1990-05-01
2016-12-06
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