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‘Everything deep down within would encourage me to shriek with despair’: The Anglican Church and the Colonial State during the Mau Mau Conflict

Event type
Christian Missions in Global History
Event dates
, 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Online- via Zoom
Thomas Bailey (University of Cambridge )
020 7862 8740

Thomas Bailey is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Cambridge

In November 1954, the Bishop of Mombasa, Leonard Beecher, wrote a frank appraisal of the Kenyan emergency for the Church Missionary Society in London. Frustrated by his inability to modify the colonial state’s belligerent attitude, he warned of the need for strong international Christian protest. However, when senior Anglican figures in Britain publicly derided the Kenyan government in January 1955, the Bishop threatened to disassociate himself from their statements. Although Leonard Beecher’s actions are surprising, the Anglican Church’s earnest cooperation with the administration until Kenya’s independence in 1963 is extraordinary. Beginning with Thomas Francis Cecil Bewes’ Kenyan tour in 1953, and ending with the first Lancaster House Conference in 1960, this presentation analyses the church’s understanding of Mau and the colonial state from the emergency’s beginning to its end. Emphasising Anglicanism’s commitment to fighting the structural causes of sin, it suggests that the Church’s turbulent relationship with the Kenyan government quickened its appreciation of black power. As Africans began to acquire positions of Christian authority, they pushed Anglicanism to support their community’s political aspirations – creating a theology of the Kenyan nation-state without the need to reconceptualise imperialism.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking is required.