Quaker Studies

Pemba, Plantations, Power: A Critical Evaluation of Britain Yearly Meeting's First African Mission

Quaker Studies (2014), 19, (1), 157–171.

Abstract

In 1897 British Friends established the first African mission corporately endorsed by Britain Yearly Meeting—a commercial clove plantation employing freed slaves on the island of Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania. Rather than following existing missionary models which focused on conversion, education, and health, Quakers attempted an enterprising approach, developing an ‘industrial mission’ which could become financially self-sustaining. However, lacking experience on the African continent, with ambivalent support from Friends in Britain, and little engagement with the needs and desires of the freed slaves, meant that Quaker missionaries were not successful in winning converts nor in creating a sustainable plantation. This paper argues that the possibility for Quakers to bring something new and beneficial to the missionary field was mostly unachieved. Further, Friends may even have contributed to the power structures which stopped freed slaves from becoming truly liberated.

Pemba, Plantations, Power: A Critical Evaluation of Britain Yearly Meeting's First African Mission

Abstract

In 1897 British Friends established the first African mission corporately endorsed by Britain Yearly Meeting—a commercial clove plantation employing freed slaves on the island of Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania. Rather than following existing missionary models which focused on conversion, education, and health, Quakers attempted an enterprising approach, developing an ‘industrial mission’ which could become financially self-sustaining. However, lacking experience on the African continent, with ambivalent support from Friends in Britain, and little engagement with the needs and desires of the freed slaves, meant that Quaker missionaries were not successful in winning converts nor in creating a sustainable plantation. This paper argues that the possibility for Quakers to bring something new and beneficial to the missionary field was mostly unachieved. Further, Friends may even have contributed to the power structures which stopped freed slaves from becoming truly liberated.


Details

Author details

Dando, Charlotte