Wasn’t Christianity in Africa a Result of Colonialism?

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Wasn’t Christianity in Africa a Result of Colonialism?

Christianity Was in Africa Before Colonialism

Well, the answer here is no. And it’s a firm no. Here is the reason why this narrative has persisted. Most times, when the history of Christianity in Africa is told, or the history of Christianity in Nigeria is told, it’s really from the standpoint of the 19th and 20th century European missionaries. They came at the same time when their governments were actually pursuing and implementing colonialist policies.

There had been Christian activity in Africa way, way back – well over 1,000 years ago.

Sadly, many of these missionaries themselves had a colonialist mindset. So, their only understanding of Christianity was garbed in the European culture. So, when they were bringing Christianity here, they weren’t asking us to just convert to Christianity. They were asking us to convert to European Christianity. And that’s why we started changing our names, we started changing the way we dress and all of that.

3 Points To Remember

Having said that, let me give you three reasons why it’s not true that Christianity was a result of colonialism.

1. Christianity Originated in The Middle East

So, the first thing is, one, Christianity’s origin is not even in Europe. Christianity’s origin is in the Middle East. Jesus was a brown-skinned middle-easterner.

2. Christianity Came To Africa In The 1st Century

Second is this. That there had been Christian activity in Africa way, way back – centuries ago. So, for instance, the Coptic Church in Egypt. This church traces its own history to the Apostle Thomas and Mark the gospel writer in the first century. And then there was already a lot of Christian activity in the 3rd century in North Africa. We know this for a fact. And then you go to Ethiopia and it had already proclaimed Christianity as a state religion by the 4th century. This was over 1,000 years before even the first hints of European Colonialism in Africa.

3. Several Early Church Fathers Were African

This is the third point. Inevitably, a lot of influential Church fathers and leaders (like Origen, like Athanasius, like Augustine) were all Africans.

So, yes, maybe more recent history of African Christianity can be traced to European missionaries. But it isn’t true that Christianity was as a result of colonialism in Africa.