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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'All things to all people to save some': Salvation Army missionary work among the Zulus of Victorian Natal
Author:Eason, Andrew M.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
Abstract:Convinced that the gospel should be accompanied by the virtues of Western culture, the practitioners of the 'civilising mission' often sought to refashion the daily lives and customs of 'native' converts. Historians of mission Christianity in South Africa have drawn attention to no more than a handful of those who, on the contrary, identified with African culture. Consequently, accommodation to African life has been explained in terms of pragmatism (a missionary's response to economic hardship) or social status (a missionary's superior background, socially and educationally). Although this research remains valuable in many respects, it does not account for the Salvation Army's missionary work among the Zulus of late-Victorian Natal. In this particular instance, theology proved to be the unmistakable and overriding factor behind missionary accommodation to African culture. The Salvation Army's British missionaries possessed little social standing or formal training, but they were steeped in a tradition of transatlantic revivalism that encouraged cultural adaptation at home and abroad. Arriving in South Africa with explicit orders to become Zulus to the Zulus, they lived in circular mud huts, ate indigenous food, accepted polygyny, and altered their dress to some degree. Even though these adaptive efforts never extended to alcohol, and later fell victim to the Army's growing interest in social reform, they represented a remarkable chapter in the colonial encounter between Christianity and African culture. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]