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Section IV: Africa Missions

Part 23: Uganda, Tanganyika and Rwanda, 1935-1949


This contains the papers of the Uganda, Tanganyika and Rwanda Missions for
1935-1949. The earlier papers for these missions can be found in Parts 19 and 22.

The CMS material for 1935-1949 is arranged differently from the papers up to 1934, being divided into subject areas: General, Dioceses, Education, Mission and Medical. The papers are very easy to read as they are mostly typed and they are arranged chronologically with the most recent papers at the beginning of the file.

In 1935 the majority of Africans were under colonial rule and few people realised that the outbreak of World War II would have cataclysmic repercussions. It is debated whether
World War II made decolonisation inevitable or just fastened the pace which had already been set. But the reality is that two decades after the start of World War II well over half the population of Africa would be free from colonial rule.

Were Nationalism and Pan-Africanism the result also of education and modernisation,
two elements influenced by missionary activity in the countries?
The papers for 1935-1949 for Uganda, Tanganyika and Rwanda are an essential tool for the understanding of the processes undergone by African countries changing from colonial rule to independent states. They provide key source material for new research projects.

Uganda Mission, 1935-1949

Uganda became an independent state in 1962, although it had always been recognised by the British government as a colony of administration rather than of settlement and that it would eventually become an African state.

In the early 1940’s the British government realised they needed to recognise the nationalist feelings in the country and by the mid 1940’s steps had been made to promote African advancement in the civil service and for political office. Africans were appointed to the Legislative Council in Uganda in 1945.

Social change was taking place at a quick pace in Uganda during the 1940’s. At the beginning of the decade the colonial state was a caste society where caste decided both social and economic position. The Europeans held most of the administrative and business roles and the growing Asian population occupied the middle ranks of society as shopkeepers and traders along with white collar workers in the government and private sector. There was a small African elite, but the great majority of Africans were country dwellers. Political transformation and education of the lower classes of society, mainly by the missionaries, undermined this equilibrium and fuelled perceptions of social inequality.

Discontent was especially evident amongst young Ugandans returning from military service in the Abyssinian campaign. Church membership began to decline under the pressure of new political awareness and a reassertion of old tribal beliefs. There were protests over the special position of Buganda vis à vis the protectorate government. CMS also faced increasing competition from the African Orthodox Church. Founded by Reuben Spartas, by 1936 the AOC claimed 5000 members with thirty centres and twenty-three church schools in Uganda.

Education in Uganda was in a period of great change in the 1940’s. Mass primary school education was prioritised and by 1959 half of all children were attending primary school. This success was without doubt accelerated by the education provided by the missionary schools.

The papers for Uganda for this period cover a diverse number of topics. They include detailed correspondence, letters between missionaries and headquarters in London, reports, memoranda, pamphlets, news cuttings, minutes of meetings, accounts and statistics.

Material on the CMS mission in Uganda

There are details on individual mission stations: Iganga, Jinja, Kabarole, Kampala, Mbarara, Mboga, Ndeje, with reports, letters and pamphlets. To mark the 1937 Diamond Jubilee of the CMS mission a campaign of evangelism was planned throughout the diocese. However, the revival movement met with difficulties when groups of Africans decided it did not fit well with their political aspirations.

There is a wide range of different documents. Important items include reports on the mission with maps of the diocese, an appeal to raise special funds for the mission, letters of applications from would be missionaries, letters from the Archdeacon of Uganda, Bishop Usher-Wilson and Canon A M Williams, letters regarding CMS property and the disposal of the Lweza Rest House and the relinquishment of mineral rights, as well as a series of annual reports. There is also material on the training of African clergy overseas. Further documents provide material on higher education, pension schemes for missionaries, furloughs, news of the death of
Miss E M Furley - the leader of the first party of lady missionaries to Uganda, notes on war measures and military service, the new financial supervisor of missions, the publication of Canon Frank Rowling’s writings, and the Margaret Wrong Memorial Fund.

There is an account of a convention at Namirembe, extracts of letters from Canon A E Clarke to Rev H D Hooper describing the Kabaka’s wedding, memoranda on the adoption of children by missionaries, an agenda for the Uganda Mission Discussion Society, notes on a proposed amendment to the Mission Constitution, the Report of the Mukono Commission of 1943, a Report on the Mission by the Bishop of Uganda, and a report on a meeting of CMS missionaries at Kabale.

Included are the minutes of Annual Missionary Conferences, the General Meetings of the Uganda Society, the Standing Committees and the Finance Sub-Committees. Many include balance sheets and useful statistics. There are notes on the audit of the CMS Uganda accounts and lists of mission stations with further statistical data.

Diocesan papers contains correspondence, memoranda and reports from the missionaries, Mission Secretary and the Secretary at headquarters regarding the Uganda diocese. Particular highlights are the description of the consecration of the first Anglican bishop in Uganda, letters regarding the marriage of Namasole – an issue which had sparked strong popular reactions, and documents on the training of clergy. There are also some issues of “The Diocesan Gazette -Uganda”.

Material on Education in Uganda 

In 1939 the governor appointed a committee under the chairmanship of H B Thomas, Director of Lands and Surveys, to draw up a plan for the development of African education, 1941-1945, and to review the principle of grants in aid. This recommended the continuation of grants as set out under a five year plan along with the reorganisation of the district education boards. From 1942 these were replaced by local education authorities, chaired by the district commissioner with the provincial education officer in attendance, three African members nominated by the Native administration, three members nominated by each denomination, one of whom was to be an African and one a woman.

There are detailed memoranda on educational needs, letters from Stephen H H Wright, the Educational Secretary General regarding the women staff needed, details of proposed candidates for teaching posts in missions, memoranda on the diocesanization of schools, grants for European educationalists, and documents on girls’ education. Individual items of interest include a printed booklet on the “Laws of the Uganda Protectorate-Education”, a pamphlet regarding self-governing schools, a report of a committee to consider educational realignment in Uganda, a ten year plan for education, pamphlets such as “The Education Ordinance”, the accounts of the Teacher Training Centres, and key documents such as the “Presidential Address to the Uganda Education Association” by G C Turner, Principal of Makerere College and a Report on Native Authority Schools.  The files are full of comments on education in Uganda and notes on the development of secondary schools. There are also substantial minutes of meetings dealing with education matters such as the Interdiocesan Education Committee, minutes of a Consultative Committee on African Education, the Educational Sub-Committee, and the Consultative Committee on Education.
A section of papers specifically on education contains further reports, letters, memoranda and minutes of meetings for the schools and colleges in the mission:  King’s College in Budo, Normal College in Buloba, the Girls’School in Gayaza, Bishop Tucker College and the Women’s Welfare Training Centre in Mukono, the Boys’ School in Mwiri, the Girls’ Primary School in Ndeje, the Nyakasura School and the Namutamba Farm School.

Medical work in Uganda

The Medical files contain correspondence, reports and memoranda relating to the Kako Maternity Centre and Mengo Hospital – the latter celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 1937. The Katikiro of Buganda spoke of the immense debt the country owed to Mengo in combating epidemic diseases and infant mortality. There are details of proposed candidates for positions as doctors and nurses in the mission. The conference of CMS medical representatives for
East Africa is well covered and there are papers of other medical conferences.

Social conditions in Uganda

There is much material on disturbances and violence in the country. There are letters regarding the assassination of the Katakiro in Nsibirwa, news cuttings and details on the disturbances and labour riots in Kampala in January 1945, notes on the evils of deportation in Uganda, and a series of petitions regarding the Buganda disturbances.

Tanganyika Mission, 1935-1949

Tanganyika became an independent state in 1961.  

The region was populated by lots of different African tribes, most of Bantu origin, but also including those of Cushitic, Khoisan and Nilotic origin - the most famous of the latter being the Maasai.

The British government were slow to take steps to try to integrate Africans into the political process and to recognise emerging nationalist sentiment in Tanganyika. The Governor,
Sir Donald Cameron, argued that African interests were adequately represented by the chief secretary for native affairs. No Africans were nominated to the Legislative Council until 1945, none served on the Executive Council before 1951. Young educated Africans were deprived of any early apprenticeship in political responsibility, even at local level. In the late 1940’s African resentment against colonial rule began to crystalise into the Tanganyika African Association.

In Tanganyika, the rapid advance of Islam gave a sense of urgency to the Christian mission.
By 1938 ten per cent of the population had some Christian allegiance. As well as CMS the Roman Catholic and German Lutheran missions were very active. The CMS mission in Tanganyika was a by product of its activities in Uganda.

The diocesan synod held its first meeting at Dodoma in August 1936. It gave general approval to plans for an East African province of the Anglican Communion, but the diocese of Mombassa still opposed this. Financial difficulties continued to cause hardship. In his annual letter for 1937 Canon Banks reported severe wage cuts for African workers, but the principle of self-support was being more readily accepted in the villages, and the church was growing. Writing from Kilimatinde in July 1938, Banks reported 700 baptized church members in his district, and 1768 pupils in fifty schools.

The integration of mission and diocese in Central Tanganyika was progressing quite well as details of the second diocesan synod of 1941 show. It amended the ‘Diocesan Canons of Church Order’ covering issues such as the instruction of converts, standards required for adult baptism, infant baptism, confirmation, marriage – especially in relation to polygamy, and inter-mission relationships. It also approved a pensions scheme and plans for the extension of the mission to unevangelized parts of the diocese. The synod requested all district councils to submit within six months schemes for complete self-support which could then be considered by a sub-committee composed of six Africans and three Europeans before being passed to the bishop for approval. It was decided that effective extension of the mission could not be achieved until established parts of the diocese were self-supporting.

Education in Tanganyika was also undergoing great change in this period. Mass primary school education was the top priority. In the years after World War II many more children were attending primary school. This success was, without doubt, accelerated by the education provided by the various missionary schools.

The papers for Tanganyika for 1935-1949 are divided into distinct subject areas – General, Dioceses and Education. They include a wide range of correspondence, reports, memoranda, pamphlets, annual letters to London, news cuttings, minutes of meetings, accounts and statistics.

Material on the CMS mission in Tanganyika

There are letters from Archdeacon H S Kidner, memoranda regarding the German missions in Tanganyika, documents on missionary allowances, mission property and prospective candidates, as well as memoranda on requirements for additional staff.

Diocesan material includes letters from the secretary of the mission, H J Kidner, with minutes of meetings of the Federal Council of the CMS of Australia and Tasmania, a printed pamphlet  “The Constitution of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika”, letters relating to proposals for the amendment of the constitution, and minutes of meetings of the Diocesan Council of Kikuyu and the Tanganyika Missionary Council.

A series of letters focus on the financial position of the mission with a short summary of the budget and memoranda on reconstruction after World War II. One section is devoted to the Ground Nut Scheme with news paper cuttings, letters and official reports on the scheme.

Material on Education in Tanganyika

There are several Reports of the Commission on Education. A memorandum submitted to the diocesan council in August 1938 laid down the basis for educational policy for the next ten years. At the bottom of the pyramid were the single village schools, standards I and II. These were to lead on to the primary village schools, standards I-V, which were to give special attention to handcrafts and African native industries. A permanent education committee was set up for the diocese. The Rev O T Cordell, as supervisor of village schools, had already done much to develop a network of village schools feeding primary schools at each of the main mission stations. This work was expanded upon by Canon Banks as supervisor and diocesan education secretary. There are letters, reports and memoranda for many of the schools in the mission: especially the European School in Arusha, the Dodoma School and the Kilimatinde School.

Medical work in Tanganyika

Dr Paul White arrived from Australia in 1938 and set up a hospital at Mvumi which soon replaced Kilimatinde as the main medical centre of the mission. White succeeded Dr Cyril Wallace as medical secretary of the diocese in 1939, but had to return home to Australia a year later because of his wife’s health. Popular with Africans and missionaries he became well known through a series of ‘Jungle Doctor books’.

The top priority by the 1940’s was infant welfare. Clinics had been developed in the late 1930’s and this work became an important part of mission life. Statistics for 1942 show that in that year 116,000 out-patients were treated, 2,879 in-patients, 1,309 maternity cases, and African dressers carried out 6,701 pathological examinations. Mission funds provided £1,520 for the hospitals; the government grant amounted to just over £892.

Rwanda Mission, 1935-1949

At the start of WW II no one had any idea of the changes which were to take place in the African continent and Rwanda-Urundi was no exception. Rwanda-Urundi was in 1940 counted almost as a seventh province of the Belgian Congo, as a decree in 1925 had ruled that its currency and colonial bureaucracy was administered by that area. The outbreak of World War II created problems in the Congo – higher production of local products such as tin, gold, uranium and rubber was needed and the onus of producing this fell on the African workers. This eventually led to disturbances, strikes and riots. In the mid 1940’s poor rains caused large scale famine.

In Rwanda-Urundi the development of nationalism was affected by the ethnic differences of the two kingdoms- the Hutu and the Tutsi. The Tutsi leaders tended to be the most educated and led the way in demanding freedom from colonial rule.

Catholic missionaries had a crucial role in the area through the control of the educational system and for a long time full secondary education was only available in Catholic seminaries. By 1968 55% of the population belonged to the Catholic Church. Secondary schools were eventually opened in the 1950’s and the first University founded in 1963. Protestant missionary activity in contrast was only tolerated until the mid 1940’s and it was not until the start of the 1950’s that CMS work started to flourish.

The papers for Rwanda-Urundi for 1935-1949 are again divided into distinct subject areas – General, Missions and Medical. These cover a wide range of material: letters between missionaries and headquarters in London covering a diverse number of topics, reports, memoranda, pamphlets, minutes of meetings, accounts and statistics.

Material on the CMS mission in Rwanda

This section contains letters, memoranda and reports from the missionaries and mission secretary. There are full details on the mission stations at Kigezi, Gahini, Shyira, Kigeme, Kabale, Ibuye and Buhiga.

Letters from Reginald R Webster, Algernon Stanley Smith and the Secretary at headquarters provide good insights into the variety of problems and new initiatives launched as the missionaries tried to build up the formative years of the Rwanda mission. The wide variety of documents include mission rules for African workers in Rwanda, a survey of the administration of the mission and a note on its constitution, circular letters from the Rwanda Council, a letter from Archdeacon Pitt Pitts and from P Guillebaud regarding revival difficulties, a report on the opening of new stations in Urundi and the history of the administration of the CMS in Rwanda.
Further correspondence covers women’s training.

There is a list of staff needed for the mission, a circular regarding the Congo Missions Committee, a report on a tour of Rwanda-Urundi by Rev B R Isaac, a report on the Mutaho Convention of 1945 by M Guillebaud, a memorandum on the Rwanda Revival Fellowship, and a survey of and letters regarding the Rwanda mission by Algernon Stanley Smith. There are various reports by the Secretary to the Home Council, including one for 1936. Other key documents include a proposal for a new diocese of Rwanda-Urundi and the constitution of the Alliance of Protestant Missions in Rwanda-Urundi, 1935, a report on the mission and on the Mataho Convention, as well as a copy of the Rwanda Constitution.

There are minutes of the Rwanda Executive Committee, the annual conferences of the Rwanda Council, of the Rwanda Executive Committee, of the Congo Missions Committee and of the Rwanda Sub-Conference.

Material on Education in Rwanda

There are various memoranda including one on a proposed school for missionary children, a report on Kigezi educational work, documents on the establishment of church schools and papers concerning the conflict with the Catholic missions and its impact on education in Belgian Rwanda and Urundi.

There are details on the Boys’ School at Buhiga, Kabale school, Kigezi High School and Shyira Girls’School. By 1939 schools had been opened at al of the mission stations. There were girls’ boarding schools at Kabale, Gahini, Kigeme, Shyira and Matana.

Medical work in Rwanda

Several memoranda cover the recruitment of nurses. There is good correspondence and some memoranda covering Gahini Hospital and Matana Hospital. There is also material on the Bunyonyi Leper Colony. By the mid 1940’s two young doctors, Leonard Sharp and Algernon Stanley Smith, were well placed to carry forward the progress that had already been made.


Taken together these files offer the researcher very good source material to look in detail at all aspects of CMS mission activity in these East African regions. Limited financial resources certainly hampered missionary effort, but solid progress was being made despite a minimal level of grant funding. The educational activities and medical work had a significant impact. The result often led to the creation of virtually self-sufficient communities within a much better educated population. Missionaries increasingly found themselves in a difficult position as colonial administrators moved slowly to respond to the growing political awareness of local populations. Here were the seeds of emerging discontent and the sometimes painful transition to independent status. 

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