American Congregational Christian Missionaries as Agents for Reform in Portuguese Angola: 1880-1902
Leslie, Richard Brian
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It is the purpose of this paper to examine closely the founding and early years of the Congregational Christian Church missions of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Ble and Bailundu areas of central Angola. This paper attempts to show what the missionaries' political. social and economic role was during a transitional perlod of Angolan history. In addition, it is hoped that this investigation of the role of the ABCFM missions will reveal significant insights into the process of Portuguese expansion into and eventual control over central Angola. The thesis of this paper is that the American Protestant missionaries were agents of reform and not of disruption. They provided an alternative social structure for the Ovimbundu of Angola whioh, in contrast to the existing situation was conducive to stability and growth. To be sure, they were against traditional religious practices, but the influence of the Portuguese over an extended period of time had corrupted the viability of the local life and had weakened the cohesion of traditional religious beliefs. The missions brought an alien but dynamic way of life with them and attempted with varying degrees of success to transplant this style of life among the peoples of the Bie Plateau.