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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Like locusts in Pharaoh's palace': the origins and politics of African Methodism in the Orange Free State, 1895-1914
Author:Campbell, JamesISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
Orange Free State
Subjects:Church history
Methodist Church
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189408707788
Abstract:In 1892, a small group of African Christians in Pretoria withdrew from the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, calling themselves 'Ethiopians'. In 1896, the Ethiopian Church was formally incorporated as the South African arm of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, America's oldest and largest black independent church. Many historians explain the success of independent churches in South Africa within the context of emerging nationalism. The present author argues that although much Ethiopianism may have overlapped with the emerging nationalist movement, it was clearly not defined by it. He examines the spread of African Methodism in the towns and farmlands of the Orange Free State in the years around the South African War (1899-1902). He shows that the Church's success in the Orange Free State reflected its ability to speak to the experience and needs of a broad stratum of progressive, independent-minded Africans. These people represented Christianity's rank-and-file, who had imbibed the missionaries' vision of self-improvement and progress. The Church's coming was heralded by drought, depression and disease, and its spread was facilitated by the South African War, with its unprecedented concentration of population. The fact that Africans so often came into the Church en masse - like locusts - was itself testimony to a pervasive sense of shared identity and grievance. Notes, ref.