Nyasa Leaders, Christianity and African Internationalism in 1920s Johannesburg

Nyasa Leaders, Christianity and African Internationalism in 1920s Johannesburg

Author: 
Dee, Henry
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor and Francis
Date published: 
2018
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
South African Historical Journal
Source: 
South African Historical Journal, Vol. 70, Issue 2, March 2018, pp. 383-406
Abstract: 

In 1920s Johannesburg, African nationalism challenged colonial categories of tribe, race and nation. Some African leaders, however, espoused alternative solidarities that were even more expansive and distinctly internationalist. Through the lives of four Christian leaders from colonial Nyasaland (modern-day Malawi), this article rehabilitates a tradition of globally orientated black politics that emerged in 1920s South Africa. Reimagining the past and future in cosmopolitan, internationalist terms all four Nyasa men looked beyond the limits of the South African nation for liberation. They were nevertheless starkly divided in their Christian beliefs. Ethiopianist Christians, George Wellington Kampara and Clements Kadalie, respectively, led the first branch of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Johannesburg and Southern Africa's first major black trade union, the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (ICU), and were both explicitly critical of the South African government. J.G. Phillips and J.R.A. Ankhoma, in contrast, were Zionist and Pentecostal Christians who strictly adhered to the laws of the land, at the same time as pioneering Nyasa nationalism. Complicating the 'connexions' between early African-led Christianity and African nationalism, this article highlights the international and imperial frameworks that these men thought through, and the divergent Christian-informed solidarities that they imagined from Johannesburg.

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Date created: 
Friday, November 16, 2018