Missions and the Powers: Transactions for Religio-cultural Change among the Yoruba in the Nineteenth Century

By Kehinde Olumuyiwa Olabimtan.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 13, 2016 $US5.00

The transformation of war-torn Yorubaland from primal to modern society began with the negotiation of the religio-cultural space between Christian missionaries and their Yoruba agents, on one hand, and the principal authorities of the country (priests, warriors, and chiefs), on the other. The half-century drawn negotiation entered a new phase when the destabilized country courted British colonial intervention. The tempos of these negotiations varied with locations and interests of the principal actors and yielded results that were oftentimes beyond their control. The research shows the “ambivalence” of traditional authorities and missionaries, the former being dragged along because of the evident failure of society and the need to arrest decay while the latter was anxious that “change” might lead to the secularization of society. The shock of colonial intervention eventually increased the tempo of change. This article evaluated the dynamics of the resultant cultural change with Doug Reeler’s “three-fold theory of social change.” It argues that, against the background of the ambivalence of European missionaries and the domineering policies of the colonial authorities, lasting change occurred when Yoruba Christian converts began to define the change their people needed by moving towards traditional society and negotiating between Yoruba traditional values and those impinging on their society.

Keywords: Ambivalence, Change

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 13, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 629.354KB)).

Dr. Kehinde Olumuyiwa Olabimtan

Acting Head of Department, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun, Nigeria