Missionary Factor in the Making of a Modern Igbo Nation, 1841-1940: A Historical Discourse
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AbstractAfrican nationalist historiography tends to portray the Christian missionary activities in black Africa in the light of colonialism and exploitation for their selfish ends. Some have said that the missionary bodies were mere spiritual arms of various European governments in their quest for territorial expansion and enlargement of economic frontiers in sub-Sahara Africa. Plausible as this argument may sound, the present researchers have however, tried to see how missionary activities contributed, wittingly or unwittingly to the development of a modern Igbo nation. The paper have demonstrated that whatever the missionaries had gained in Igboland could never measure up with what the Igbo people benefited from the missionary activities. These include freedom from slavery, freedom from fear and superstition, freedom from diseases and poverty; above all, freedom from ignorance through missionary education which has transformed Igboland from the nineteenth century. It is left to say that with the help of the missionaries the Igbo language was developed and alphabets formulated. The early missionaries committed Igbo language into writing through the publications of religious books. The importance of this in the awakening of tribal consciousness, the provision of vehicle for common expression and the unification of the third largest tribe in West Africa cannot be overestimated. It is for these reasons that the place of the missionaries in the making of a modern Igbo nation deserves not just a passing reference but a discussion of this nature.