The history of the Rhenish mission society in Namibia with particular reference to the African Methodist episcopal church schism (1946-1990)
This dissertation takes up the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) schism in 1946 in Namibia from the Rhenish Mission Society RMS), due to a protest against the inhumane treatment that the Nama leaders were forced to accept from the German missionaries belonging to the Rhenish Mission Society. The agitation movement of 1946 organized a church separated from the RMS which was started in response to the Africans' need for opportunities for self-expression, fuller involvement in the Church of God, and in society as a whole. It was the answer to a cry for social recognition as human beings, and the means through which a group of people started on a programme which gave them a growing sense of dignity and self respect. The underlying and longer term problems of this first schism in Namibia come out above all in the correspondence between the missionary Christiaan Spellmeyer and Petrus Jod, Markus Witbooi and Zacheus Thomas. These documents shed some light on the policy and attitude of the RMS in Namibia and in Gibeon in particular, mainly during the 1930's and early 1940's. This thesis records the significant role played by the Nama leaders to voice their grievances against the RMS. The involvement of the RMS missionaries in colonial politics has contributed to the subjugation of the black people. By concentrating their efforts on pioneering incentives in education, social care and ordination, the Nama leaders made an outstanding contribution to the establishment of AMEC in Namibia, the church which responds closely to the needs of the Nama people. This study should be of interest to those who are doing research on the history of Christian missions in Southern Africa, and in particular in Namibia. It is hoped that the findings of this study will bring a local perspective on the activities of the AMEC in Namibia, as up to the present, much available information has been written by German missionaries. A complete history of the indigenous clergy in Namibia, is unwritten. Much that would be most interesting and valuable went to the grave with those who had no possible means of transmitting it except by the uncertain and unreliable method of tradition. What made Zacheus Thomas, Markus Witbooi and Petrus Jod different from the Rhenish Mission Society's staff was the fact that they were from the IKhobesin clan, who understand and respect the culture of the Nama people. They could see and appreciate the structures of the Nama society and planned a development project from the African perspective. The researcher presents this work as a tribute to these pioneering Nama leaders whose lives and relationships are a true reflection of their Christian faith.