Repository logo

A black heart : the work of Thomas Jefferson Bowen among blacks in Africa and in Brazil between 1840 and 1875.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis is about Thomas Jefferson Bowen (1814 - 1875), a Baptist missionary of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, United States. Bowen worked in Africa and tried to work with slaves in Brazil. These facts made Bowen a missionary ahead of his time. He had a different perspective and attitude to Africa and Africans. His book Central Africa, his personal letters, his articles, his life, show that he was deeply involved with the idea that Africa could be much more than only a good place to purchase slaves. His whole missionary life was expended in a project to train blacks to work in Africa as missionaries and teachers. What made Bowen a different missionary from his fellows in his time was the fact that he was able to understand and respect the culture of the people with whom he was involved. He could see and appreciate the structures of the African society and he planned a development project from the African perspective. He was a missionary who believed that the Western society was not appropriate for Africa. Africa had to find its own way. He was different because he believed that missionaries have to speak the language of the people and should not force the native people to learn English as a "holy" language. We present this work as a tribute to this missionary whose life and relationship with blacks can be seen as an example of respect and understanding of the culture of a people.


Thesis (M.Th.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 1998.


Bowen, Thomas Jefferson, 1814-1875., Baptists--Missions--Africa--History--19Th Century., Baptists--Missions--Brazil--History--19Th Century., Missionaries--Africa--Biography., Missionaries--Brazil--Biography., Theses--Theology.