African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187

Full Length Research Paper

Attitudes of Christian missionaries towards African traditional religious beliefs in East Africa during the British colonial rule

Tugume Lubowa Hassan
  • Tugume Lubowa Hassan
  • Makerere University,Kampala, Uganda.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 03 September 2015
  •  Accepted: 07 September 2015
  •  Published: 31 October 2015


This article focuses on the religious encounter between European Christian Missionaries and the African traditional religious beliefs in East Africa. The area of study is Buganda in Uganda. The scope of the study is 1877-when Christianity was first introduced in Uganda to 1962 when Uganda got her independence; the period when Christian missionaries lost influence together with the colonial rulers. Using the qualitative historical research design, the study re-examined the philosophy of African religious beliefs namely the concepts of god, ancestor veneration, divinities and religious rituals. This analysis is based on and aided by secondary sources written on European Christian activities in East Africa. The study contends that the crusading mentality embedded in Christianity underpinned and reinforced the views and attitudes that European Missionaries constructed around African religion and rituals. The perceptions that Christianity was superior to, and in no position to negotiate and dialogue with African religion, contributed significantly towards their failure to understand and to evangelize fully the societies they came in contact with. Moreover the failure to appreciate that traditional religion was a centrifugal force around which all life, and kingship, gravitated, resulted in their disillusionment and immature abandonment of the mission field. The study concludes that failure of Christian missionaries to appreciate and integrate African Traditional beliefs within Christianity contributes to the current rejuvenation of African traditional religious beliefs and practices in Africa.


Key words: African god,           ancestors of veneration, divinities, diviners, heathen Rites, African religion, conquista mentality.