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Loiello, John Peter (1980) Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the Church Missionary Society, and the Niger Mission, 1857-1891. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The career of Samuel Ajayi Crowther stands as one of the most dramatic and compelling narratives of nineteenth century Africa. Crowther was a pivotal figure in his time and in missionary affairs long afterwards. He played many roles: teacher and missionary, linguist and translator, explorer and commercial promoter, diplomatist and proto-nationalist. His African-staffed and African-led Niger Mission remains one of the most significant and intriguing experiments of its day. The Church Missionary Society, fostered in the Humanitarian age, progressed during Crowther's life from a single Committee directed by a small Secretariat to a world-wide organization, influenced by the New Evangelicalism and Social Darwinism.;Branded by some scholars as a failure, the Niger Mission was yet marked by considerable success. Crowther's formative years underscore the uniqueness of his experience and highlight his uncommon ability, intelligence, and common sense. His crucial relationship with Henry Venn formed his career and gave him unparalleled latitude in his work. He demonstrated leadership, ingenuity, and sound mission strategy in founding and establishing his Mission. He dispelled stereotypic views of Africans and helped win acceptance for the concept of African agency. He attempted to smooth the wrinkles of a Niger Bishopric which had been formulated in haste and compromise. His notable achievements in expanding missionary operations and moving towards self-support in his Mission were matched by his considerable diplomatic skills as quasi-Consul on the Niger and in other duties which he performed for the Colonial Administration. His most serious weaknesses lay in his inability to develop an indigenous clergy and probably his remaining too long at the helm. But developments at the C.M.S. and in British missionary and Church circles also profoundly affected the course of his career and that of his Mission. Diverse and complex factors led to the Niger Crisis, in which Crowther was both participant and focal point. He died in the midst of the Crisis, his achievements and contributions lost or clouded in the aftermath.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:29

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