EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN CHRISTIAN MISSIONS AND NIGERIA’S NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (1840-1960) (Review Completed - Accepted)
The socio-economic conditions of Africa during the advent of the European and American Christian missions were deplorable and piteous. This was particularly the case with that part of the continent that was later named Nigeria by the British colonial authority. To help or not to help the people economically therefore became one of the greatest problems of the missionaries owing to the vastness of the area and the large population of the people occupying it. Nevertheless, the missionaries saw the socio-economic assistance to the less-privileged and poor natives as a missionary imperative. The solution was found in the system of indirect socio-economic assistance of the converts. This was inherent in the works of all the missionary groups that brought the Christian gospel to Africa. Thus, the Christian missions laboured to develop the Nigerian nation since the 19th century. The main thrust of this paper is to objectively evaluate the general impacts of the establishment of Christian missions in Nigeria on her people and nationhood. It is aimed at challenging the Christian leaders of today to re-appraise their commitment to the social aspect of the Church’s call. While using an analytical and descriptive historical approach to the study of the activities of the Christian missions in Nigeria between the 19th and the 20th centuries, this research has discovered that the contributions of the European and American missionaries who undertook pioneer missionary work in the country have been under-estimated in earlier historical records. The missionaries actually contributed immensely to the development of Nigerians individually and corporately in many areas including Education, Medicare, Agriculture and Commerce.