This research deals with Christian missions and African cultures. It focuses on the
traditional social associations of the Nso’ people of Cameroon. The main problem
the research addresses is that missionaries who came to Nso’ mostly imposed their
culture on the Nso’ and by extension Africa in the name of Christianity. What this
research refers to as traditional social associations is what the missionaries
prejudicially termed secret societies. The research argues that these traditional
social associations are not secret societies. They are rather custodians and
preservers of Nso’ culture. Their activities are largely social, and revolve around
eating and drinking.
The research compares the case of Nso’ with missionary endeavours in North Africa:
Egypt, Axum and Nubia and in Sub-Saharan Africa. In all these areas, the following
commonalities are found: insufficient interest in the indigenous languages,
syncretism, the tendency of mission to always link with colonialism and to despise
the African worldview. In all these areas, the result was conflict between mission and
indigenous culture, and conflict within the traditional cultures.
In order to appropriately engage contexts in Africa that have traditional social
associations like Nso’, the researcher proposes the use of an integrated missional
approach. By integrated missional approach the researcher means a perspective
that takes theology, anthropology, sociology and culture seriously when carrying out
the mission of God (missio Dei). The researcher presents an integrated missional
approach that is constructed in the light of contextualisation. This approach is based
on Niebuhr’s typology that is described in his book Christ and culture and as
analysed by Kraft in his Anthropology for Christian witness.
The following sociological theories: functionalism, conflict theory, phenomenology
and social identity theory are used to discuss how certain realities operate in human
Using content analysis as his predominant methodological approach to the data
collected, the researcher concludes that culture has been, is, and will continue to be
the main vehicle for mission. Hence, the traditional social associations of the Nso’
people, which form the core culture of Nso’ need to be seen as an opportunity for
evangelisation. The research shows that the missionary era in Nso’ in particular and
Africa in general has ended and that the era in which the local church is finding its
own identity is underway.