Christianity and Colonialism in South Africa

Christian evangelists were intimately involved in the colonial process in southern Africa.

This essay distinguishes two dimensions of their historical role, each associated with a
different form of power. In the domain of formal political processes, of the concrete
exercise of power, the effect of the nonconformist mission to the Tswana, as elsewhere
in Africa, was inherently ambiguous. However, in the domain of implicit signs and
practices, of the diffuse control over everyday meaning, it instilled the authoritative
imprint of Western capitalist culture. But there was a contradiction between these
dimensions: while the mission introduced a new world view, it could not deliver the
world to go with it. And this contradiction, in turn, gave rise to various discourses of
protest and resistance. [South Africa, Tswana, colonialism, Christianity, missionaries,
power, domination and resistance, historical agency and cultural discourse]