Ronald Hyam
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Missionary confrontations
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Victorian missionaries seldom stopped to enquire what structural function the practices they objected to so often performed in ensuring the cohesion of traditional societies. Mission work in Africa grew rapidly from the 1850s. From the start, the issue of polygyny was of central importance, and it remained at the heart of the battle for an African Christianity. Insistence on monogamy forms a long, difficult backdrop to the missionary penetration of Africa. Missionaries the world over, whether Catholic or Protestant, have always consistently targeted anal intercourse as one of the first traditional practices to be eliminated. For the churches, what happened in Buganda in the 1880s was a chastening experience. Systematic teaching by missionaries in Kenya against clitoridectomy began in 1906, by the controllers of the CSM hospital in Kikuyu, notably by Dr J. W. Arthur, who became head of the mission station there.

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Empire and sexuality

The British Experience


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