More Information
ISBN: 9781839735332
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 19
Publication Date: 30/06/2024
Pages: 368
Series: Studies in Missiology
Language: English

To Die in Africa’s Dust

West Indian Missionaries in Western Africa in the Nineteenth Century


Christian mission in the modern era has generally been conceptualized as a Western endeavour: “from the West to the rest.” The rise and explosive growth of world Christianity has challenged this narrative, emphasizing Christian mission as “from everywhere to everywhere.” Dr. Las Newman contributes to this revitalized perspective, interrogating our understanding of modern missions history by drawing attention to the role of African West Indians in the spread of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa.

This comparative study of three nineteenth-century missionary expeditions critiques common narratives around West Indian involvement in the missionary enterprise. Dr. Newman proposes that far from being misguided adventurers or nostalgic exiles, African West Indians were fuelled by a quest for emancipation that was birthed in the crucible of Caribbean slave society. Acting as agents of the Western missionary enterprise, they nevertheless shaped an understanding of Christian mission as a force for justice and freedom that carried with it personal, religious, and socio-political implications. Dr. Newman argues that it was this conception, embraced and championed by African West Indians, that enabled the missionary project in Western Africa to survive, flourish, and ultimately take firm root in African soil. This study questions historical interpretations of the Western missionary endeavour, exploring the pivotal role of native agents in cross-cultural Christian mission and allowing readers to hear from marginalized voices as they tell their own stories of engagement, struggle, and liberation.

Author Bios

Las G. Newman

LAS G. NEWMAN is the global associate director for regions for the Lausanne Movement. He is a member of the International Fellowship for Mission as Transformation and former president of the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology (CGST) in Kingston, Jamaica. He holds a Master of Arts (MA Hons) in History from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a PhD in Mission History from the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS)/University of Wales. He has spent more than thirty years working with students in the campus ministry Students Christian Fellowship and Scripture Union in Jamaica, and the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES).


Las Newman has given us a welcome reminder that the planting of Christianity in nineteenth-century West Africa was as much a black as a white mission enterprise. His book also highlights the fact that West Indian black missionaries, no less than their white counterparts, had to grapple with the difficult issues of how to make an informed Christian response to the indigenous religions and cultures of Africa.

Brian Stanley, PhD
Professor of World Christianity,
University of Edinburgh, UK

Thoroughly researched and engagingly written, this book makes a significant contribution to African diaspora studies. Las Newman offers compelling evidence of the role of West Indian agents in the project of carrying Christianity to the Mother Continent, and he enriches our understanding of the West Indiesfrom which the missionaries emerged. This book will be appreciated by the specialist and the general reader alike.

James W. St.G. Walker, PhD
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History,
University of Waterloo, Canada

In this work, Las Newman weaves a comprehensive , fascinating story of the involvement of West Indians of African descent in the missionary enterprise in West Africa in the nineteenth century. I unreservedly recommend it to all students of mission history, the people of the West Indies and, of course, all those in Africa who continue to enjoy the fruits of the labours of the West Indians who offered to become missionaries to Africa in the nineteenth century.

Benhardt Y. Quarshie, PhD
Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture, Ghana

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Preface
  3. Abbreviations
  4. Part 1: Formation – The West Indies and the Making of Christian Agents
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
  6. Chapter 2 The Making of the West Indian Church: Identity, Community, and Social Reconstruction
  7. Chapter 3 Emancipation and the Missionary Dream
  8. Part 2: Participation – The West Indian Missions to Western Africa
  9. Chapter 4 The Basel Mission to the Gold Coast (1843–1850): Seeds of Failure, Fruits of Success
  10. Chapter 5 The Baptist Mission to the Cameroon (1841–1888)
  11. Chapter 6 The Anglican Mission to the Rio Pongas (1855–1897)
  12. Part 3: Interpretation – Nostalgic Exiles or Missionary Enterprisers?
  13. Chapter 7 Encountering Africa
  14. Chapter 8 Conceptions of Christian Mission
  15. Chapter 9 Assessments and Implications
  16. Appendix I From the Archives of the Basel Evangelical Missionary Society, Basel, Switzerland
  17. Appendix II From the Archives of the Baptist Missionary Society, Regents Park College, Oxford
  18. Appendix III From the USPG Archives, Rhodes House, Oxford
  19. Bibliography