msomi maktaba
History Study Notes

Missionaries in Zimbabwe (Questions and Answers)


56 [a]. List any six problems faced by missionaries in Zimbabwe between 1850 and 1900.   [6]

  • Diseases
  • Poor transport and communication
  • Opposition of African leaders
  • Opposition of Moslems/Swahili
  • Language barrier
  • Traditional religion
  • Food supplies were scarce

[b]. Describe the work of missionary organizations which operated in Zimbabwe 1850 and 1900.                                                                                                      [11]

  • London missionary society came to Matabeleland after some earlier contacts south of Limpopo
  • 1859 J.S .Moffat established a mission at Inyathi
  • Opened a church and a school to convert and teach the Ndebele Society
  • 1870 LMS opened another station at Hope Fountain for the same purposes
  • Missionaries involved besides Moffat were Thompson, Sykes, Charles Helm and David Carnegie
  • 1882 the Roman Catholics came to Matabeleland when the Jesuits opened Empandeni under father Bartholomew knoot
  • 1879 a catholic mission was established by Fr Law at Mzila but it later failed
  • 1891 the Anglican Church led by Knight Bruce came to Mashonaland. Their first mission station at St Augustines
  • Later the Jesuits established a mission at Chishawasha
  • The American Board of the church of Christ came to Eastern Zimbabwe and opened a mission station at Mt Selinda[Chirinda]
  • Other missionary groups who came were the Methodists, whose earliest mission was Old Mutare.
  • Between 1860 and 1890 missionaries representing the DRC, Paris Evangelical Mission and the Berlin Missionary Society to work, e,g the DRC was well represented in the Masvingo area.
  • Main activities of the missionaries included conversion to Christianity, education [3Rs], translations, medicine, technical work, mediating between Africans andother Europeans.

[c]. To what extent did the missionaries succeed in their work in this period?[8]

  • Education developed in areas where the African society was not tightly controlled
  • In Matabeleland missionaries only mad in-roads after Lobengula was crushed in the 1893 Anglo-Ndebele war
  • As technicians they did much even in Matabeleland,e,g repair guns.
  • At first few Africans accepted Christianity ,better reception in Mashonaland
  • Many hospitals were opened and served Africans who were then sidelined by the Government after 1890.
  • Many Africans remained sceptical of the missionaries and in some areas they made no progress.
  • In Matabeleland they took their role as link people with other Europeans to an extreme. They became main agents in the plots to dislodge the Ndebele and occupy Zimbabwe.

[Nov 2003]

  1. [a]. List any six aims of missionaries who came into Zimbabwe between 1850 and 1900. [6]
  • To spread Christianity
  • To promote legitimate trade
  • To end slavery, end civil wars
  • To civilize the local people
  • To teach people to read and write


To promote  European  rule

  • To teach new farming methods, new skills e,g carpentry

[b]. Describe the activities of the missionaries in achieving their aims?     [11]

  • The London Missionary Society established Inyathi Mission in 1859 led by J.s Moffat
  • In 1870 LMS opened another mission at Hope Fountain
  • At the missions the missionaries taught and preached the gospel
  • Books in Ndebele were printed
  • They grew food crops
  • The Roman Catholic Church also opened missions at Empandeni near Bulawayo
  • African evangelists and catechists from Transvaal and Lesotho sent missionaries to Mashonaland e,g the Dutch Reformed Church, Berlin Missionary Society and the Paris Evangelical Mission. Some permanent mission stations were established e,g at Chivi, Matibe, Mposi. At Chivi it was short lived.
  • Anglican church established the Diocese of Mashonaland in 1882 led by Knight Bruce
  • After 1890 some stations were established along the eastern borders: Mt Chirinda Mutambara Mission, Mary Mount, St Augustines, Nyanga [Marist Brothers] Missions, Regina Coel Mission.

[c]. How successful were these missionaries in achieving their aims?                   [8]

[i] Failures:

  • Suspected converts were punished
  • Yearned for destruction of Ndebele state which resisted Christianity
  • Africans unwilling to abandon traditional religion

[ii]. Successes

  • S. Moffat and C. Helm helped C.J. Rhodes to colonise Mashonaland and Matabeleland
  • Promoted trade between Whites and Africans
  • Between 1890 and 1900 converts started to increase in numbers
  • Established few missions
  • Taught few people to read and write
  • Converted few to Christianity

                                                                         [June 2004]

  1. Name three missionary organisations and their respective missions stations in Zimbabwe in the 19th century. [6]
  • London Missionary Society –Inyathi, Hope Fountain.
  • Roman Catholic Church-Empandeni
  • The Dutch Reformed Church-Morgenster Mission

[b]. Describe the work of three missionary organisations in Zimbabwe in this period.[11]

  • 1859 J.S Moffat, son of Mzilikazi’s friend Robert Moffat, allowed to open Mission station at Inyathi near Bulawayo. Lobengula later allowed the London Missionary Society to further open another mission at Hope Fountain.
  • Missionaries of the LMS engaged in teaching, preaching and literary work
  • isiNdebele books were printed
  • more LMS missionaries like Thompson, Sykes, Helm and Carnegie arrived
  • LMS missionaries were given land to grow crops and to repair guns ,inoculate cattle, treat the sick write Lobengula’s letters
  • In turn missionaries were allowed to preach among the Ndebele
  • The Roman Catholic Church‘s Jesuits missionaries founded a mission at Empandeni un 1887 near present day Plumtree. Under the leadership of Peter Prestige and Andre Hartmann, their mission struggled with very limited success. This forced it to close in 1889, only to re-open the mission in 1895 after defeat and conquest of the Ndebele kingdom
  • This followed Fr B Kroot’s visit to Lobengula in 1882
  • The Jesuits subsequently established another mission station near Bulawayo
  • The Jesuits also engaged in teaching, preaching and literary work
  • The Dutch Reformed Church of South African evangelists- to the Eastern part of Mashonaland between 1860 and 1890
  • African evangelists were used because of fears that Lobengula would not welcome whites
  • DRC evangelists were Michael Buys –approached the Govera Chief, Zimuto [the second].
  • Subsequently established mission at Morgenster Mission near Masvingo

[c]. How far were the missionaries successful in their work?

  • Missionaries were largely unsuccessful in especially converting people to Christianity
  • LMS missionaries in Matabeleland made little headway because Christianity was incompatible with Ndebele culture and Ndebele religion was interwoven with politics and military regiments
  • Ndebele economy –partly sustained by raiding which also was incompatible with Christianity preached by missions.
  • Hence converts were suspected and often punished
  • Ndebele society was organised on caste basis which militated against Christian principle of equality, making the Christianity unacceptable
  • Also in Mashonaland missionaries were not very successful
  • Missionaries were welcome in Mashonaland around Masvingo but later arrested by Lobengula
  • However, missionaries made some headway in literary work and teaching ,reading and writing
  • Missionary work began to make headway after colonisation.

[Nov 2004]

59 [a]. Identify any six missionaries who worked in Zimbabwe between 1850 and  1900.[6]

  • Robert Moffat, J.S. Moffat, Charles Helm, Francois Coillard, William Sykes, Thomas M Thomas, Fr Robert Laws, Knight Bruce, Fr Law, Fr Kroot.

[b]. Describe the role played by missionaries in the colonisation of Zimbabwe.[11]

  • 1836-Mzilikazi signed a treaty with Robert Moffat- establishing a long term friendship that helped the British in the 1880s
  • The Moffat Agreement in 1888- in which Lobengula was persuaded to drop the Grobler Treaty –Lobengula agreed to be a friend of the British Queen and not to enter into any agreement without the knowledge of the British. Lobengula thought J.S. Moffat was trustworthy. This treaty signed by a missionary led to the signing of the Rudd Concession.
  • During negotiations ,leading to the Rudd Concession, Rev Charles Helm played a leading role in persuading Lobengula to sign the concession
  • Missionaries usually played an important role in the link between concession seekers as they spoke local languages.
  • The establishment of missions, e,g Inyathi and Empandeni, helped those who visited Zimbabwe to find a place to stay[flag followed cross]
  • The failure of Missionaries to convert many local people to Christianity resulted in some Missionaries e,g J.S. Moffat, to hate the Ndebele State ….”it will be a blessing to the world when they are broken up”. So in a way encouraged the BSAC to use war to destroy the Ndebele State in order to loosen grip on potential converts
  • Missionary road to the north from South used by whites, trade –encouraged by Missionary groups attracted whites.

[c]. How important was the role played by Missionaries in the colonisation of Zimbabwe? [8]

[i] Importance of Missionaries

  • Helped in the signing of treaties
  • Played as a link between Rhodes and Lobengula
  • Establishment of missions which latter brought literacy
  • Had knowledge of the culture of the local people
  • Gave Africans false sense of security

[ii] Other important Factors:

  • Role of traders ,hunters and explorers
  • Rhodes and his BSAC regarded the Ndebele State as of strategic importance
  • The scramble for Southern Africa increased competition for Zimbabwe as an area rich in gold
  • Lack of unity in the state[Ndebele]
  • Weakness of the local people militarily
  • Lack of unity among the Shona.


60 [a]. Identify any six aims of Christian missionaries in Matabeleland in the 19th century. [6]

  • To convert heathen/spread Christianity
  • To civilise the Africans
  • To turn subsistence cultivators into independent commercial producers and craftsmen
  • To develop an indigenous middle class to maintain and staff churches
  • To promote legitimate trade
  • To decampaign slave trade
  • To promote equality/unity
  • To colonise/pave way for colonisation

[b]. Describe the work of Christian Missionaries in Matabeleland in the 19th century.[11]

  • Mzilikazi allowed J.S. Moffat to establish a mission at Inyathi near Bulawayo[1859]
  • Lobengula allowed L.MS to open Hope Fountain Mission[1870]
  • Inyathi and Hope Fountain missionaries taught ,preached and wrote IsiNdebele books
  • Cultivated crops on land given by Lobengula respectively
  • Missionaries helped Mzilikazi and Lobengula to:

Repair guns

Inoculate cattle

Treat the sick

Write king’s diplomatic letters

  • Opened Empandeni near Bulawayo
  • Missionaries acted as interpreters and advisors
  • Paved the way to colonisation e,g Charles Helm

[c]. To what extent did the missionaries succeed in their work during this period?


  • Set up mission stations
  • Introduced literacy
  • Introduced better farming methods
  • Those who showed interest in message sent to distant places or punished

[ii] Failures:

  • Till 1894 when Matabeleland was colonised by B.S.A C, missionaries produced no following among Ndebele after 30 years effort.
  • Ndebele had own religion
  • Ndebele economy based on raiding yet Christianity promoted peace
  • Ndebele society had castes yet missionaries preached equality
  • Potential converts punished/sent to remote areas/those who showed interest in Christian message were sent to distant places or punished
  • LMS and Jesuits then campaigned for destruction of Ndebele State

[Nov 2007]

61[a]. Name six early missionary organizations in Zimbabwe during the 19th century [6]

  • London Missionary Society
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • Dutch Reformed Church
  • The Anglican Church
  • The Paris Evangelical Church
  • The Berlin Missionary Church
  • American Board of Foreign Missionary
  • Methodist Church of Zimbabwe

[b]. Describe the work of the missionary organization in Mashonaland between 1850 and 1900.                                                                                                                                   [11]

Dutch Reformed Church

  • African evangelists were trained
  • Francois Coillard of the P.E.M. with evangelist Sehahabane /set up a permanent station at Chivi but was short lived

Berlin Missionary Society

  • Matibe and Mposi stations- set up by evangelists Madzima and Samuel who did the ground work
  • In 1886/7 German missionaries were Knothe and Schellnus later came and enjoyed some successes, preaching, teaching skills such as reading and writing, agriculture, carpentry
  • Building of hospitals
  • Translating the bible into local languages
  • Inoculating cattle, repairing guns, crop production, trading, letter writing
  • Publishing books
  • Paved way for colonisation
  • Discouraging traditional practices

Roman Catholic Church

  • In 1879, Fr Law , tried to establish a mission station in Chief Mzila ‘s land in the border region between Zimbabwe and Mozambique ,these were asked to convert other Africans
  • Michael Buys opened a station at Zimuto near Masvingo under Chief Mugabe [Morgenster]
  • Another station was opened at Chief Chivi’s capital and a resident missionary was appointed
  • They managed to preach ,teach and did literary work

Paris Evangelical Mission

  • African evangelists and catechists from Lesotho did much of the work ,because it was feared Lobengula would not allow white missionaries to enter Mashonaland
  • Evangelist expeditions reached Matibe, Mposi, Mudavanhu, Chingoma, Nyamhondo, Chivi, Mugabe, Chilimanzi and Dzike in south eastern Mashonaland stations were opened at these places and preaching was done

Anglican Church

  • Knight Bruce led an exploratory expedition to the Zambezi in 1888.He visited many Shona chiefs .In 1891 established the Diocese of Mashonaland; a station was opened at St Augustines.

Church of Christ

  • Established a mission station at Chikore and Mt Selinda[Chirinda] in the eastern province of Manicaland[Chipinge]

[C]. Were Missionaries successful in their work during this period? Explain your answer.[8]

[i] Successes

  • Managed to convert some Africans though to a limited extent
  • Printed books
  • Taught people to read and write, technical skills were imported e,g Mposi ,Morgenster, Mzila, St Augustine
  • Traditional practices like polygamy etc were discouraged
  • Introduction of new crops widened the economy
  • Medical services were made available


  • Some missionaries were attacked and left the area
  • Only converted very few Africans
  • Attacked African traditions and divided Africans- Christians and non-Christians
  • Power of chiefs undermined because chiefs discouraged conversion to Christianity
  • Famine
  • diseases

[Nov 2008]

62[a]. Name any six mission stations established by early European missionaries in Zimbabwe before 1900.                                                                           [6]

Mission Station

Inyathi, Empandeni, Mzila, Hope Fountain, Mashayamombe, Chishawasha, St Augustines,Mt Selinda, Old Mutare, Pendamatenka, Rusitu, Holy Cross, Zimuto, Gokomere, Mposi, Chivi, Bernard Mizeki, Morgenster

[b].Outline the work of Catholic missionaries in Zimbabwe up to 1900.

  • Jesuits led by Fr Bartholomew Kroot opened Mission at Empandeni and Bulawayo
  • Used by Ndebele to repair guns, treat the sick and write the king’s letters
  • Missionaries preached to the people
  • Missionaries also taught and carried out literary work eg Sindebele books were printed for Ndebele children to read
  • Depelchin led Jesuits to Zambezi Valley and set up a station at Pandamatenka,he built the “Residence of the Holy Cross”
  • Chiwashawasha was founded near Salisbury in 1892
  • Only in the 1895 when many more missions opened were many converts made, after colonisation
  • Built numerous churches and many converts made, built numerous churches and many converts accepted Christian standards
  • Built schools that taught reading and writing
  • They produced grammar books, translated religious and educational books into vernaculars
  • New crops and vegetables were introduced and new crafts and skills practised e,g carpentry at Chiwashawasha etc
  • Traded with local people
  • Paved way for colonisation
  • Condemned African religion
  • New farming methods
  • Introduced livestock breeding
  • Fr Prestige supported destruction of the Ndebele state

[c].How successful was the work of Catholic Missionaries in Zimbabwe in this period?[8]


  • Established mission stations
  • Inoculation of cattle transformed African language to written from [Sindebele and Shona]
  • Translated religions and educational books
  • Introduced new crops vegetables
  • New crafts and skills practised
  • Knowledge to use new implements e,g Saints and ploughs
  • Established schools
  • Set up hospitals ,treated the sick
  • Introduced livestock breeding
  • Got some new converts
  • Assisted in colonisation


  • Before colonisation in 1890 made little impact to convert Ndebele Shona
  • Slave raiding and class system among Ndebele influenced Ndebele kings to discourage conversion
  • Problems of diseases and poor communication
  • Opposition from Muslims

[Nov 2009]

63 [a].Name any three missionary societies and their respective leaders who came into Zimbabwe between 1850 and 1900.                                                                   [6]

  • London Missionary Society—-J.S. Moffat, C Helm, Price, Sykes, Thomas
  • Anglican-Knight Bruce
  • Berlin Missionary Society-Madzima and Samuel
  • Roman Catholic Church—Fr Bartholomew Kroot, Fr Law, Depelchin
  • Dutch Reformed Church-Michael Buys
  • Paris Evangelical Mission-Coillard and Sehahabane

[b] Outline the problems experienced by missionaries in Zimbabwe between 1850 and 1900.                                                                                                                       [11]

  • Tropical diseases
  • Language problems as they tried to communicate with locals/with their home countries
  • Attacks by animals
  • Locals resisted Christianity
  • Transport problems
  • Shortage of food they were used to
  • Pressure from political leaders to be involved in colonisation
  • Caught up in the competition among the European countries
  • Shortage of medicines
  • Opposition from African rulers
  • Human resource shortage[manpower]
  • Accommodation problems/shelter

[c].To what extent had missionaries solved these problems by 1900?     [8]

Methods to solve problems

  • Missionaries brought medicine
  • Use of sign language, interpreter from South Africa
  • Set up schools
  • Assisted in the colonisation so that their work to spread Christianity was made easy
  • Created roads
  • Grew their own crops
  • Built mission stations
  • Used African catechists and evangelists
  • Friendship with African chiefs
  • Cheated some chiefs

[I] Successes

  • Had assisted in the colonisation of Zimbabwe
  • Stations built and clinics built
  • Were growing own crops
  • Rapid success after Ndebele had fallen
  • Appointed some African catechists at some Chiefs’ court

[ii] Failures

  • Few people converted to Christianity
  • Not many roads created
  • Shortage of drugs
  • Some chased out of the country-Coillard
  • Some missions abandoned e,g Pandamatenka
  • Some missionaries killed eg, Bernard Mizeki
  • African religion remained strong

(Nov 2010)

64.(a)Name any three pioneer missionaries and any three pioneer mission stations in Zimbabwe during the 19th  century.                             (6)

                                                       Pioneer Missionaries:

  • John Smith Moffat, M.Thomas Morgan, Father Bartholomew Kroot
  • Charles Helm, Bernard Mizeki, Madzima Samuel

Pioneer Mission Stations:

  • Inyathi, Hope Fountain
  • Morgenster Mission, Empandeni
  • chishawasha

(b).What problems were faced by pioneer missionaries in their work in Zimbabwe during the 19th Century?                      (11)

  • Cultural differences –e,g Christianity had difficulties in converting people
  • Distrusted as they preached against customs such as killing twins, polygamy, caste system and raiding system
  • Communication problems-differences in language
  • Lack of supplies of European goods-food, medicine, tools, clothes
  • Tropical diseases such as malaria
  • Hostility of local people
  • Killing of converts or exiling them, eg in the Ndebele Kingdom
  • Warfare and raiding created fear among the missionaries
  • Lack of roads-transport difficulties
  • Being embroiled in local politics e,g succession disputes
  • Manpower shortages
  • Associated with colonisers
  • Climatic conditions
  • Literacy
  • Competition with other religions
  • Attack from wild animals
  • Communication with mother countries
  • Killing of missionaries

(c).To what extent were the missionaries able to solve these problems at that time?  (8)

  • Teaching native children to read and write, learning native languages aided communication and preaching
  • Clearing roads
  • Friendship with local chiefs
  • Building clinics for curing tropical diseases
  • Growing crops for food
  • Training of African catechists
  • Translating of books into vernacular
  • Promoting colonization



  • Africans still attached to their traditional religion and culture
  • Ndebele till cherished caste and raiding systems
  • Roads and telephones still rare
  • Africans suspicious of Europeans or Missionaries.

                                                                            [June 2011]

65[a].Name any six mission stations established in Zimbabwe between 1850 and 1900. [6]

  • Empandeni, Hope Fountain, Inyathi, Chishawasha, Morgenster
  • Chivi, Matibi, Mposi, Zimuto, Hartzel, Howard, Mount Selinda
  • St Augustine, St Dominics, Mutambara, Nhowe, Bernad Mizeki

[b].Outline the work of the London Missionary Society (LMS) in Matabeleland in the 19th Century.                                                                                                               [11]

  • In 1859 J S Moffat established Inyathi mission
  • LMS opened Hope Fountain in 1870, at the missions the missionaries taught and preached, grew their own food
  • J S Moffat signed the Moffat Treaty with Lobengula in Feb 1888
  • Rev C Helm persuaded Lobengula to sign the Rudd Concession in Oct 1888
  • Missionaries in Matabeleland encouraged trade between Ndebele and whites
  • Established schools, hospitals and churches
  • Converted Ndebele into Christianity
  • Repaired the king’s guns, wrote king’s letters, treated the sick
  • Discouraged and undermined African religion and tradition
  • Taught Ndebeles new skilss such as carpentry, woodwork, metalwork etc
  • Acte as interpreters (translators)
  • Promoted literacy (Ndebele were taught how to read and write)

     [c].How important was the role played by the LMS in the colonisation of Zimbabwe?

Role played by LMS in colonisation of Zimbabwe.

  • In Feb 188, J S Moffat signed the Moffat Treaty on behalf of Rhodes. Lobengula agreed to cancel the Grobler treaty
  • Oct 1888 Rev C Helm influenced Lobengula into signing the Rudd Concession
  • C Helm recommende the destruction of the Ndebele state
  • Missionaries hosted uropean visitors from Europe
  • Missionary road became gateway into the interior of Southern Africa

Other factors

  • Influence of explorers, hunters, traders and other ambitious people
  • Rhodes’ Cape to Cairo dream
  • To exploit mineral resources(second rand expectedin zim)
  • Prestige, needs for markets and raw materials
  • Need to invest surplus capital, new technology enabled the British to control foreign lands
  • Competition among the Boers, Portuguese and Germans
  • Availability of cheap labour in Zimbabwe
  • Fertile lands and favourable climatic conditions for European settlement

                                                                            [Nov 2011]

66.[a]. State any six reasons why the local people resisted missionary influence in Zimbabwe between 1850 and 1900.                                                            [6]

  • Missionary formal education was meaningless to African way of life
  • Lack of material gains
  • Did not want to abandon their traditional religion
  • Feared their trade would be disturbed
  • Did not want to learn a new languge
  • Christianity denounced aspects such as raiding
  • Attacked African administrative systems
  • Suspected missionaries of having colonial aims
  • Influence from traditional leaders / religious leaders
  • Influence of islam
  • Whites blamed for natural calamities eg Drought, diseases,fever

      [b].Outline the ways ised by local people to resist missionary influence in Zimbabwe between 1850 and 1900.                                                                        [11]

  • Moved far away from missionary settlements
  • Continued to practise traditional religion
  • Raids continued
  • Refused to attend schools
  • Killed some missionaries
  • Refused to give food to missionaries
  • Accused some missionaries of spies
  • Punished or killed potential converts
  • Accused missionaries of using forbidden routes
  • Expulsion of missionaries
  • Some Africans continued to follow islam
  • Some continued to trade with Muslims
  • Movement of missionaries was restricted.
  • Refused to work for the missionaries
  • African leaders discouraged people from attending churches.

     [c].Were these people successful in resisting missionary influence at that time?  Explain your answer.                                                                                                           [8].


  • Many people not converted
  • Few people attended schools
  • Killed some missionaries
  • Some converts were killed
  • Refused to learn the new language
  • Expulsion of missionaries
  • Some point s in B applies.



  • Hospitals were built
  • Some people were converted
  • Other people were educated
  • Mission stations were established
  • Schools were built
  • All missionary successes were failures by Africans to resist.

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