n Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies - Mission as biography - case studies from the Eastern Cape frontier

Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9507



This article approaches mission from the perspective of the receivers, not the senders: what Africans heard, rather than what European missionaries said. It adopts a narrative approach to Christian mission, by telling the stories of four characters in South African history who lived in a particular period of history in a particular geographical area and analyzing them, using both sociological and theological tools. After giving some historical background to the Christian mission in the Eastern Cape, and some cultural background to the Xhosa people, it relates the stories of four protagonists - Nongqawuse, Nxele, Ntsikana and Soga - and then does a sociological and a theological analysis of their encounters with the Christian faith, demonstrating the extent to which the Christian mission was interpreted in terms of the worldview and historical circumstances of the Xhosa people and contributed to the Great Xhosa Cattle Killing of 1856.

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