Good Literature Review On Why Is Nationalism Important In Nigeria?

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Religion, Culture, Europe, Church, Nation, Missionary, Literature, Nationalism

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/30


At the turn of the XX - XXI centuries the most important problems facing the international community is the need to address the political, national and religious conflicts, which are often result in armed clashes. In such circumstances it becomes particularly important to understand the nature of the conflicts that threaten modern society. The roots of many contradictions are to be found in the past of developing countries, as well as in the interaction between different peoples with European countries. This interaction was most intense in the period of colonialism, especially in the last third of the XIX century, when the process of territorial expansion of the Western powers was intensified.


The need to resolve existing world conflicts has contributed to the interest to the history of colonialism and the history of empires. It forced to take a fresh look at the problems of the past. Colonialism was perceived by Africans as something inevitable, and the Western powers - as a source of material and technical progress, assistant in initiation to western education and industrial innovation of European civilization. However, the colonial era contained a huge amount of controversy, leading to constant clashes between Africans and Europeans. In this period there were formed stereotypes of European and "native" peoples to each other, the essence of which is reduced to the opposition of "us" and "them", based on the rejection of the "foreign" culture. Contradictions became more acute as the formation of national identity, which could not grow in constant opposition to Western and African societies.
Thus, the origins of racial identity, national liberation struggle of the peoples should also be sought in the processes of colonialism. For many decades, researchers have considered mainly the socio-economic and political nature of contacts with other European nations, as well as the methods and forms of colonial expansion of Western powers.
Interest in Christian missions and their role in the history of Nigeria have appeared 1960s. That was caused by the liberation of Africa from colonial rule. There was a so-called "Ibadan Historical Series" (Book of Nigerian and English authors, united by "African approach to the history of the continent"). This approach, which considers colonialism as a minor phase in the history of the African peoples, which should not be given much weight was common in African historiography 1960s.
In 1966 was published the work "Missionary influence in modern Nigeria 1842- 1914" by E. Ayandele, professor of University of Nigeria. The author examines the period from the mid XIX century to the First World War, when under the influence of missionaries were intensified social and political processes in Nigeria. The researcher noted that Yorubalende and Old Calabar missionary propaganda interwoven with political and often secular missionaries used methods in their work. However, in social and cultural terms, they have achieved a success (Ayandele, E. 1970).
E. Ayandele described in details the activities of many schools and educational institutions, noting that during the last quarter of the XIX century there was a gradual decline of interest in missionary formation and growth of vocational and higher education. In addition, the author of missionary activity linked with the problems of the national liberation movement in Nigeria and the formation of its social base. According to Ayandele, Western education has contributed to the creation of the educated elite and the growth of national consciousness. As a consequence of this emerging ideology of "cultural nationalism" is supposed to fight for the revival of Africa. The author has analyzed the basic concepts of the ideologues of "cultural nationalism": E. Blyde, S. Johnson and D. Vincent. All of them had different attitudes to the Europeans: the recognition of missionaries as teachers to outright rejection of racist ideas in Europe. Nevertheless, Africans recognize technological advances of Western civilization necessary for economic revival of Africa. The author acknowledged the positive role of missionaries in the preservation and development of local languages ​​and scripts. Thus, a Nigerian professor, did not share the ideas of Europeans regarding the inferiority of Africans believed that the Black continent belongs to spiritual leadership; Europe - economic. Missionary Work, noted E. Ayandele, was necessary phenomenon. There could be Christianized no society without it. But at the same time, the mission made a split in the Nigerian society, which was one of the reasons for the declining interest in missionary activity (Ayandele, E. 1970).
The history of creation and activities of the African churches is described in the work of D. Webster "African church among the Yoruba." The author describes the origins of the African church movement and causes rise of African churches, highlighting the most significant of them: the growth of national consciousness and a negative attitude towards the missionaries. One of the causes of discontent Europeans was the question of polygamy, which the new church is considered acceptable for the laity. The study revealed the question of doctrine, church organization of local churches, particularly the Church of Christ Army, Basel African church, united local African Church and other churches of Aladur branch. The author stressed that it is the Aladur church best meets national psychological characteristics of Africans. The disclosure of hierarchies of church government is described in sufficient details. It included African elders, describes the services and sources of funding. J. Webster concluded that the history of creation and activity of the local churches was a compromise between Christians and Africans (in particular, services were held according to the canons of the Christian Church, but using local music, dancing, musical instruments). Most often, the national church arose on the basis of the Anglican Church. However, among the organizers of the African churches there was no unity on many issues, such as those on polygamy, determining the status of the local churches (Blyden, E, 1967).
The same issues devoted to the study of B. Sharevskaya. In addition, the author has sufficiently schematically described the spread of Christianity in West Africa without considering missionary work as an independent phenomenon. A significant part of this study is devoted to analysis of the characteristics and features of the ideology of the Afro-Christian movements. B. Sharevskaya noted that "the desire for liberation of the church from the tutelage of foreign churches kept pace with the developing of the national liberation movement." Thus, these works contain important information about the social, political, religious peculiarities of the peoples of West Africa, but no analysis of missionary activity in the region and its evaluation. In the historiography of the 1970s due to the rise of African nationalism, the criticism of missionary activity has gained a new color. Nigerian authors associated missionary activity with the problems of the national liberation movement in Nigeria and the formation of its social base (Crowder, M, 1967).
In 1970 was published another work of E. Ayandele named "Holy Johnson. Pioneer of African Nationalism. 1836-1917". It describes the main milestones of D. Jonson’s biography of the black priest, the one of the ideologists of "cultural nationalism". For a long time the black priest controlled Breadfroot church. E. Ayandele agree with the opinion of the ideology of "cultural nationalism" in context of that the missionary must always "see through the eyes of others and to suppress the racial feelings." In conclusion, the author came to the conclusion that the pre-1914 "cultural nationalism" has spread to the economic and political spheres, since the main thing for educated Africans was the desire to create a local church, through which they can achieve social and economic benefits. In 1978, the collective monograph "The Nigerian history," which examines various aspects of the spread of Christianity in Nigeria, early activities of European missionary activity of one of the most popular black bishops S. Crowder; establishment of churches in the Niger Delta (Crowder, M, 1967).
In the 1970s there also were published a few general studies on the African people and their domestic and religious backgrounds. The authors also asked about the time of formation of the ideology of "cultural nationalism", its main conceptual features. In 1960s among many Africanists was prevailed a view that nationalism could occur in the colonies, which have not yet formed the capitalist system, and, therefore, the nation, since these processes are the basis for the formation of this phenomenon. However in the 1970s due to the need to review the approach to the liberated countries, this view has been revised. For example, M. J. Frankel came to the conclusion that the formation of "cultural nationalism" should be attributed to the last decade of the XIX century as a reaction of educated Africans on the dominance of the Europeans and the growth of national consciousness. According to the author, it is this ideology became the basis for the formation of a single nation. In his monograph "The social thought of British West Africa in the second half of the XIX century." M. J. Frankel sees the formation of a new social class, the new African elite, the folding of the national ideology of "cultural nationalism". This study presents the main conceptual provisions ideologues of this movement: C. Crowther, D. Horton, E. Blyde, D. Johnson. Although they differ in their assessment of missionary work, without exception, recognized the need to preserve the uniqueness of their culture, drawing on the Christian dogma. Thus, M. J. Frankel argued that Africa in the second half of the XIX century was not merely a passive object of colonial exploitation, since there was a formation of social thought in African countries, the ideology of the national liberation movement. Furthermore, the author acknowledged the contribution made in this process leaders educated Africans, but also highlighted the principles of "cultural nationalism" and, in particular, the slogan of "spiritual decolonization", the thesis of the unity of the destinies of peoples blacks and others.
Attempt to analyze the interaction of western and eastern culture is contained in a Columbia University professor E. Said: "Orientalism" and "Culture and Imperialism". It should be noted that the author did not affect the missionary activity in his research. Researcher shifted the emphasis from the economic to the cultural sphere. In the book "Culture and Imperialism" E. Said believed that in the process of creating a "territorial empires" the cultural ties are more important than physical strength. The author used the term "cultural nationalism" which is based on the understanding of areas that are common to the colonizers and the colonized. At the same time the metropolis, the researchers said, had a creative potential, which influences the colony. E. Porter has criticized the concept of E. Said. In the articles "Cultural Imperialism and the Protestant missionary enterprise, 1780- 1914" and "Religion and Empire: British expansion during the XIX century" he defined the missionary as an independent force, and not agents of "cultural imperialism" and believed that E. Said had overestimated the imperial culture (Walls, A., 1988).
The entries of missionaries of later period contained not only a description of the life and mission activity, but an attempt to analyze the errors of Europeans and to suggest possible ways to overcome them. For example, A. Crummell in "Africa and America: our national mistakes and remedy for them," considered the main problem of alienation felt by local residents to missionaries and thus Africans have striving to come to independence. This issue, as well as the problem of the introduction of self-government in Africa, the need to create a class of educated people was reflected in many letters to missionaries. For example, T. Bowen in his letter "On the need to develop the middle class in West Africa" pointed out that the middle class is the foundation of any civilization is a source of strength, wisdom and knowledge (Crummell, A., 1870).


The history of colonial societies and their interaction with the mother countries is ambiguous and complex question. The colonial countries used varied arsenal of methods for conquering overseas territories during colonization: economic, military, cultural, and, for a long time, the cultural role was treated as secondary. Subsequently, in historical science, the concept of colonial society was presented as a "synthesis of local and adscititious by European colonialism elements, their structural and functional compromise articulated, clutch and interaction"
After analyzing the objectives and structure of missionary societies, drawing parallels between traditional customs and traditions of the Yoruba people and for Christianity, and by considering the process of Christianization in West Africa, we arrive at the following conclusions:
Despite the fact that in the end of the XIX century interest in missionary work among Africans drops significantly, the process of Christianization of the West Africa continues, however, its agents are members of the local elite - black clergy. The growth of national consciousness leads to awareness of the need to create independent, self-governing African churches, so that activated the national - liberation movement;
The initial stage of this movement is the ideology of "cultural nationalism" (its ancestors were: E. Blyde, S. Crowther, D. Horton.), the principles of which, in spite of the sharp differences of opinion among the African elite, based on the recognition of the uniqueness, originality, internal the capacity of Africans. But at the same time, these principles justify their inseparability from Christianity and technological innovation in Europe;
Practical orientation of "cultural nationalism" has resulted in the formation of local churches, the rapid construction of which occurred in the first half of the XX century. These churches are a synthesis of adscititious Christian elements and actually pagan rites, elements of local music, architecture, dance, with a predominance of Africans.

Works Cited

Ayandele, Emmanuel Ayankanmi. Holy Johnson, Pioneer of African Nationalism, 1836-1917,. London: Cass, 1970. Print.
Blyden, Edward Wilmot. Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1967. Print.
Crowder, Michael. Colonial West Africa: Collected Essays. London: F. Cass, 1978. Print.
Crummell, Alexander. Our National Mistakes and the Remedy for Them The Annual Address by the Rev. A. Crummell, Queen's College, Cambridge; Delivered before the Common Council and the Citizens of Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa, July 26, 1870. Being the Day of National Independ. Preston, Lancashire, England: H. Oakey, 1870. Print.
Walls, Andrew F. Missionary Societies and the Fortunate Subversion of the Church. 1988. Print.

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