Ufipa, a labor reserve for Tanganyika, witnessed minimal colonial development. Instead, evangelization by White Fathers' Catholic missionaries began in the 1870s. By the 1950s, the missionaries had secured varying degrees of political, economic and social authority in the region, witnessed by the fact that the vast majority of Fipa had converted to Catholicism. Fipa Families examines how this happened from the Fipa perspective.
Written primarily for scholars and students of African colonial history, mission history, and family and childhood history, this study is based on a rich collection of oral and documentary sources. Working with this wealth of information, Smythe breaks new ground in placing African social and moral concerns parallel to those of missionaries, resurrecting the study of the family (rather than kinship, lineage, or clan) within African history, and demonstrating at the level of the family and village the ways in which ideas of socialization, reproduction, and education were challenged and re-created in the colonial context in Ufipa.
Initially, employees of the mission sought to oversee the education and moral upbringing of at least one child from each family, substituting boarding school for the care relatives would otherwise have provided. A few mission parents even opted to forego the multiple benefits of grandchildren so a child could pursue the celibate path of a religious vocation.
The opportunities of the Catholic Church complemented and competed with Fipa processes of social and biological reproduction, and Catholicism became part of the fabric of Fipa society because of, and despite, its resonance with Fipa culture. At the heart of both Fipa and missionary concerns were the processes of socialization (social reproduction) and biological reproduction, processes carried out within the context of the family.
About the Author
Kathleen R. Smythe is Associate Professor of history at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Her research and teaching interests include colonial and religious African history. She is currently pursuing research, teaching, and writing at the intersection of African and world history.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Fipa Families
Church, Religion and State in Nkansi, 1880-1960
Where One Slept Mattered: Fipa Socialization and Cultural Perceptions of Growth in Nkansi, Ufipa
Home Away from Home: Generational Experiences
The Boarding School Experience: Baraza and Karema
Socializing Fipa Priests and Sisters
"Child of the Clan" or "Child of the Priests": Life Stories of Two Fipa Catholic Sisters
Conclusion: Fipa and Missionary Socialization