About the Author(s)

Graham A. Duncan Email symbol
Department of Church History, Christian Spirituality and Missiology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Duncan, G.A., 2022, ‘The changing face of colonial education in Africa: Education, science and development’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 78(1), a7163. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7163

Original Research

The changing face of colonial education in Africa: Education, science and development

Graham A. Duncan

Received: 30 Sept. 2021; Accepted: 22 Jan. 2022; Published: 18 Mar. 2022

Copyright: © 2022. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This review article enters into discussion with Peter Kallaway, in his work, The Changing Face of Colonial Education in Africa: Education, Science and Development, who raises serious issues related to the historical development of South Africa’s education during the first half of the 19th century and its current situation and future prospects in the broader context of African education. Education is a dynamic process that encompasses the formal and informal sectors historically. In South Africa, the informal was the norm for centuries before the intrusion of Western influences and formal education needs to work alongside the informal processes based in the home, the church and the community. Formal education is a product of the West and came to occupy the determinative place in the period covered by this book, while the informal sector was relegated to a subservient role despite its inherent value. Kallaway discusses these issues by analysing the contributions of external factors such as the International Missionary Council in the religious sphere and the New Education Fellowship and the British colonial service in the secular sphere. These played a significant role in the movement from ‘culture-bound’ to a universalised approach to education in Africa and particularly South Africa. Alongside this, the role of mission education is discussed as a source of tension with external forces and as a significant contributor to the development of education not restricted to the religious domain. Mission education emerges as an innovative force in educational development as a part of the international movement within the context of an emerging ‘development’ paradigm. The external and internal forces and the cultural and universalising are not necessarily in opposition to one another but often in conversation with and in tension with one another’s assumptions. Kallaway undertakes two case studies of South African scholars, Donald M’Timkulu and SEK Mqhayi in order to refine his analysis. It has been alleged with truth that the trader and settler followed the missionary, who was the agent of European imperialism, working hand in hand with the colonial powers for the subjugation of the black people and the territorial extension of the imperialist power. This view has been challenged by Brian Stanley who cautions against a too simplistic interpretation of the relationship between colonisation and Christianisation reached through ideological means rather than intensive historical research. He concludes that the process first appears more complex and seeks to avoid generalisations. This provides an appropriate starting point for this review article, which attempts to go beyond the historical by raising contemporary issues related to the concept of Africanisation.

Contribution: This article contributes to the ongoing debate regarding developments in education in a colonial context from a historical perspective. This is relevant to current debates and challenges to the ongoing effects of colonisation in education in a democratic society and the prospect of an epistemological shift towards the Africanisation of education.

Keywords: Africanisation; colonisation; mission education; Donald M’Timkulu; SEK Mqhayi.


Education in Africa, and particularly in South Africa, has been in a state of flux since the independence of the African continent. This has raised a number of issues related to the perpetuation of colonialism in education. Hence, it is important to understand the history of education in order to understand the present situation and project future prospects. In this process we are assisted by Peter Kallaway, a leading expert in education in South Africa. In his recent work, The Changing Face of Colonial Education in Africa: Education, Science and Development, written after a life’s experience in the field, he raises serious issues related to the historical development of South Africa’s education and its current situation and future outlook. It could be said that this is a work of liminality as education always stands on a threshold leading from the experience and practices of the past into a somewhat unknown future. As can be discerned in this volume, education is also a dynamic process, which encompasses the formal and informal sectors; in South Africa the informal was the norm for centuries before the intrusion of Western influences and good formal education needs to work alongside the informal education based in the home, the church and the community. Formal education is a product of the West and came to occupy the determinative place in the period covered by this book, while the informal sector was relegated to a subservient role despite its inherent value. The approach adopted here is to see education in terms of a move from traditionalistic to universalising approaches. Kallaway focuses on the diversity and the complexity of the interlocutors and processes, the policies and practices, which gave us the present educational system. At times this was a conflictual process even within the indigenous community of educational protagonists such as Donald M’Timkulu and Samuel Mqhayi. This collection of papers represents the best of Kallaway’s work.

In the foreword of this book, Beinart (1994:i) asserts that the lack of an in-depth understanding of the colonial legacy has impeded the development of a coherent educational philosophy and strategy that takes account of African knowledge systems, which can facilitate the growth of an Africa for the Africans, parallel to and not subservient to the domination of Western cultural impositions. However, before considering the colonial legacy it is necessary to understand what constituted education prior to the arrival of colonists and settlers.

Education in Africa prior to colonisation

It is difficult to refer to education in an African context as if there was only one African context with no variations. It rather resembles the outdated missionary argument that there was no religion in Africa prior to the arrival of Christianity. However, despite apparent differences from culture to culture, Saayman (1991:30), following Emy ([1972] 1981:1) indicates that education as a function of culture operated within specific dynamic cultural contexts. Yet, Saayman (1991:32) highlights three salient characteristics in the educational process: observation, imitation and explanation; the third being a developmental outcome related primarily to rites of passage. This process was largely unstructured in terms of time and space. It was based on meeting the requirements of living as experienced. With regard to technological development, this focussed on meeting the needs for food, clothing and shelter. In the moral realm, concentration and focus is in a relationship with the community, with elders, the living, the dead, and nature. This marked the core of African education: ‘The personal world is not separated from the self, self cannot be separated from the community and the community cannot be separated from the deity’ (Seed 2020b:50). Consequently, ‘the group, rather than the individual, is at the heart of social organisation and arbitrates identity’ (Seed 2020b:52).

African life did not depend on a sophisticated (European) civilisation. In an authentic sense, it was informal and largely unstructured. It was also self-sufficient until the advent of colonialism and the missionary movement (both of which were influenced by the Enlightenment) where ‘the possibility of progress, this autonomous, modern individual became more important than the community of people he or she lived in’ (Saayman 1991:35). And this process created hitherto unrequired needs and a market for the produce of the Western nations.

Concurrently, mission introduced a counter challenge to European constructions of Africa ‘as primitive, savage, without religion, pagan, superstitious, full of witchcraft, witch hunt, sorcery and black magic’ (Seed 2020b:60–61). This became a focus of the 20th century Phelps-Stokes reports (Lewis 1962), which sought to expunge the discrepancies in the perceptions of the Western world. It inaugurated a period of transformation leading to the hybridisation of Christian teaching, cultural values and secular values ‘into the narratives of Christian identity’ (Seed 2020a:100) where ‘the coloniser’s culture, history, religion and way of life were promoted in the curriculum and in the discipline itself’ (Mugomba & Nyaggah 1980:2). Consciously or unconsciously, Western education succeeded in alienating African youth from their home cultures.


The theme of Kallaway’s book is drawn from the lengthy process of colonisation in Africa. Education was a key factor in the reciprocal experience of the ‘colonisation of consciousness and the consciousness of colonisation’ (Comaroff & Comaroff 1991:xi). This was a two way process by which missionaries sought to co-opt indigenous people into their world view and indigenous people responded by challenging their power ‘sometimes through strikingly imaginative acts of cultural subversion and representation; sometimes in silent, sullen resistance’ (Comaroff & Comaroff 1991:xii; cf. Scott 1990). Hence, it is a ‘historical anthropology of cultural confrontation’ (Comaroff & Comaroff 1991:xi).

The later 20th century witnessed calls for decolonisation as a rejection of ‘White superiority, nationalistic history and “truth”’ (University of Derby Library n.d.). In education:

[T]his means confronting and challenging the colonizing practices that have influenced education in the past, and which are still present today. In the past, schools have been used for colonial purposes of forced assimilation. Nowadays, colonialism is more subtle, and is often perpetuated through curriculum, power relations and institutional structures. (Centre for Youth & Society UVic in University of Derby Library n.d.:n.p.)

It’s about challenging longstanding biases and omissions that limit how we understand politics and society … to interrogate its assumptions and broaden our intellectual vision to include a wider range of perspectives. (Guardian, 2019, in University of Derby Library n.d.:n.p.)

The process of decolonisation has been under way for a considerable time now but there appears to be a hesitancy regarding taking the process to its logical conclusion and breaking from a Eurocentric model in favour of Africanisation (ed. Kalu 2005:1–8), although this is not one of the issues raised by Kallaway.


Peter Kallaway is a renowned historian of African education who has investigated the connections between European colonisation and Africa historically and contemporaneously. He states his philosophy of life, which was inherited from his father: ‘respect for the concerns of the common man, with socialism and the welfare state as the fundamentals of a just order’ where all are treated with ‘dignity and fairness’ (Kallaway 2021:iii). It was in his family context that he imbibed the values ‘embodied in opposition to apartheid’, which were affirmed, as a student at Rhodes University, in his membership of the Student Christian Association (SCA) and the National Union of South African Students (NUSA), leading to association with students at Fort Hare University and the Federal Theological Seminary.

His early teaching career, followed by studies at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICS) and the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at London University introduced him to the insights of new approaches to African history and Marxist revisionism where the focus was on class rather than race and interdisciplinarity was the key to an enhanced and more comprehensive understanding of society along with engagement with African students beyond the borders of South Africa. Throughout his teaching and research career Kallaway has engaged in many international conferences and this expanded his knowledge and increased his networks. Clearly his early life experiences were influential in the conception and research, which resulted in the writing of this book.


The overall approach is thematic within an established chronological framework.

Introduction: The genesis of educational policy in late colonial Africa: 1900–1950s

Kallaway begins by introducing the current state of research and problems associated with transformation in education, particularly the relationship between the history of education and policy development. This reveals a broader constellation of change including social and economic reform and is related to the development of ‘native’ policy not only as a source of research but also as a humanitarian exercise. This presaged the development of ‘development’ as a strategic tactical approach and as an academic study, although there still remains a deficit in the study of development and education. He notes the absence of a praxis approach where there was a lacuna between discourse and implementation. This required a multifaceted approach where there were internationally sponsored investigative projects on the transition from imperial ideology to the more integrative role of missionaries, government agents, scientific advisors and local responses. While written from a South African perspective, Kallaway (2021:6) attempts to make his work amenable to ‘the more general script of African colonial education’ in which colonialism signified domination, exploitation and the crude exercise of power. The parallel historical development of foreign mission and trade not only often supported this crude form of hegemony but also contributed to the development of later social and political change, initiated particularly at the World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910. This is a complex area with no clearly defined parameters in the process of colonising, ‘civilising’, Christianising and commercialising within the South African context, which was both a settler colony and a dependency. The predominant characteristic in this venture, particularly related to the missionary venture was hypocrisy related to a ‘sacred trust’ (surveillance) as has been seen in more recent times under the policy of ‘partnership in mission’ (Duncan 2008).

The 1920s Phelps-Stokes commission on educational policy supported adaptation of the curriculum to the needs of indigenous peoples in a blend of progressive education with the immediate local context, but little consideration was given to the purpose of education for Africans. As nations strove towards independence, the development agenda was transferred from the colonial powers to emerging international organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank. Much later, we have observed similar moves within a democratic South Africa where Mandela’s Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) gave way to Mbeki’s neo-liberal Growth, Equity and Reconstruction (GEAR) policy with the outcomes-based educational policy to accommodate these economic developments. Education for its own sake had all but disappeared and sound education remained a privilege for those who could afford it. Hence, it is not an adequate vehicle for social change.

Chapter 1: The International Missionary Council (IMC) and education in colonial Africa

Within the ambit of the IMC the conceptualisation of mission education was progressively transformed with the emphasis on the local situation and its relevance. The South African educational system was the product of the confluence of a number of external influences, including foreign missions, which paved the way for state involvement. Policy reform was limited by theological factors, which extended back to the mid-19th century. For instance, the differentiation between evangelical and moderate views had been evident in the Scottish mission where the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland adopted the evangelical view and the Free Church of Scotland espoused its missionary obligation through advancing education (Duncan 2002:9, 23) as part of its commitment to what would become known as ‘social gospel’.

However, this approach to mission, which included, medical, agricultural and industrial mission was costly and necessitated some form of engagement with political power even as the imperial age (1880–1920) and the missionary movement were in the doldrums as external political and religious expressions had moved into contested territory. Whereas mission education had been based on a denominational model, and would so continue, for example, Presbyterian Lovedale, Anglican St Matthews, Congregationalist Tiger Kloof and Methodist Healdtown – all in the Eastern Cape except for Tiger Kloof, they opened their doors to students of other churches. But now they also had to contend with the threats posed by international political factors, economic depression, emerging ideologies and mass poverty not to mention race and class conflicts. In addition, mission education became subject to a developing relationship with the state, which necessarily involved the implementation of a novel managerial perspective.

Alongside the national development of the relationship between church and state in the field of education, there were also international developments in both the secular and religious domains. In the religious sphere, the IMC held a series of conferences at which education was placed high on the agenda. In the secular sphere, the Progressive Education Movement (PEM) in the West emphasised the need for a coherent universal approach to education. Kallaway (2021:64) correctly pointed out the ambiguities related to PEM in its attempt to use education to meet the requirements of the political agenda. For example, a question was posed by Loram regarding its implementation in the black context while white education was exempted from the change. This smacks of the prolegomena to Bantu education. Kallaway (2021:64) commented on the need for the issues of community development, medical care and education to be included in the agenda but this had been on the agenda of some missions since the 19th century (cf. Lovedale Missionary Institution).

The IMC aligned itself with the British colonial office and the influential Phelps-Stokes Foundation in this regard with, inter alia, an aim to develop indigenous leadership, which was to result in the paradoxical responses of conformity and resistance (Duncan 2000b:258). One significant development was the use of vernacular languages in the early years of schooling (Burchell 1991:4). This could be interpreted as an attempt at Africanisation, although it was simply a means to the end of anglicisation. This would become a serious area of contestation in the drive towards separate development by emphasising the distinctive elements of each ethnic group. There was a growing interest in the relationship with other religious traditions, which transcended the traditional view of the superiority of Christianity as the sole source of challenge to secularism and the growth of totalitarianism and nationalism, although the growth of the latter would soon rise to the top of the agenda of African nations.

Chapter 2: Conference litmus: The development of a conference and policy culture in the interwar period with special reference to the New Education Fellowship and British colonial education in Southern Africa

This chapter focuses on the question of how an understanding of colonial education can illuminate the struggle for educational reform as a Western dominated process where networks were established in order to promote child centred and community-focused education with an emphasis on the individual in society – a concept at odds with the ethos of African societies. In South Africa, Malherbe’s ideas on differentiation promoted the concept of paternalism and trusteeship and prepared the way for Bantu education as South Africa lurched politically further to the right. Malinowski (in Kallaway 2021:104) situated the idea of re-integration, to counter the ill effects of the destruction of African culture, in the context of and the imposition of colonial rule, which had reduced Africans to subject statue within their own lands.

Chapter 3: Welfare and education in British colonial Africa: 1918–1945

During the interwar period, the weaknesses of colonial rule were becoming apparent and an emerging policy culture began to lay the ground for welfare and educational advances in the colonial context as a result of the Phelps-Stokes Commission reports on African education (1922, 1924). These reforms would become integral to the process of independence in Africa. Kallaway (2021:124) points to the ‘development’ of educational curricula to include environmental awareness ‘plants, animals, agriculture, hygiene, nutrition, economic environment’. However, there was nothing new here because these were the elements of traditional ‘informal’ education, which had supported African people for centuries before the arrival of Europeans (Saayman 1991:32–36). Children’s rights were emphasised along with humanitarian issues and women’s rights (Kallaway 2021:127). To a degree this was not a new concern for as early as the 1860s for Dr Jane Waterston had established a girl’s school at Lovedale Missionary Institution (Bean & Van Heynigen 1983:14). This policy was revised in 1922 (Chalmers [1877] 1930:171).

Chapter 4: Science and policy: Anthropology and education in British colonial Africa during the interwar years

The policy advances described in chapter three are explored in the specific social scientific field of anthropology in a situation distinguished by disintegration and reintegration of traditional cultural, economic and ethical systems, agriculture, education and medicine. This occurred in the context of community welfare as opposed to ‘excessive individualism’ (Kallaway 2021:144) through the emerging academic discipline of anthropology, even in South Africa where a number of South Africans became prominent in the discipline, for example, Monica Wilson (née Hunter who was herself a product of mission education at Lovedale; see Morrow 2016:1–19). The innovative work of Bronislaw Malinowski was ground-breaking in this regard with his view that education was a reintegrating force in the attempt to create a sense of self-worth. The paradox was advancing the globalising of education with the promotion of indigenous identity. However, a number of other non-African scholars made substantial contributions to primary, secondary and tertiary education, including John Dewey, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. Kallaway highlights Eiselen’s emphasis on the dual contradictory method of producing an African who could contribute to the development of the economy while simultaneously promoting African societal values such as morality. This was a direct challenge to traditional mission education. However, it was not so much the decline of traditional African life, which was rurally based, rather than the result of trying to transpose these values from a rural context to the urban areas simpliciter. Mandela challenged this idea when writing about Ubuntu:

It’s an institution that arose and developed in the countryside and functions only in that area. The flocking of people to the cities, mines and farms makes it difficult for the institution to function as in the old days. (Meer 1990:396)

This did not encourage a return to an idyllic past but sought to establish a new way of relating.

Mair’s (in Kallaway 2021:157) critique that there was ‘little sense of collective learning from a century of educational endeavour in Africa given the fragmented missionary effort’ is a generalised comment, which is not justified in light of the existence of a regular meeting of the heads of [mission] institutions in South Africa (Burchell 1979:79) with the aim of coordinating mission efforts in education and in line with secular education.

The inputs of various anthropologists appeared to have failed to grasp the paradox inherent in the aims of the interested parties; white people wanted quiescent black people to contribute to the efficiency of a white dominated economy, while black people sought equality and equity in order to challenge the cultural, social, economic and political assumptions of white people.

Chapter 5: Diedrich Westermann: Linguistics and the ambiguities of colonial science in the interwar years

The policy advances described in chapter three are explored in the specific social scientific field of linguistics as an important aspect of educational reform in which Diedrich Westermann, an expert in linguistics and African studies, played a significant role in the promotion of vernacular languages, especially in early childhood learning. He was a mentor of W.W.M. Eiselen, whose work prepared the way for the introduction of Bantu education. Eiselen’s concepts of race and culture were derived from Westermann who was also grounded in the secular/‘scientific’ approaches to mission work current at that time, which went beyond localised contexts as it focused on change and how this influenced the development of related policies. Key to this was the role allocated to the use of vernacular languages. Westermann’s close links with Nazi ideology perhaps led to his relegation from the centre of educational developments.

Chapter 6: Donald Guy Sydney M’Timkulu: South African educationalist: 1907–2000

The study here moves from the global to the South African context. M’Timkulu is an example of an indigenous leader in education and a severe critic of apartheid who went into exile having been frustrated in the quest for the franchise in the Cape. He espoused a humanitarian vision of society at all levels of society in the first half of the 20th century. M’Timkulu’s biography is employed as an example of the ‘hybridity of identity’ (Kallaway 2021:194) where, in this case, the subject, one of few black people considered, is engaged at several levels of activity – social, political and ideological – in order to draw a picture of an emerging elite.

An earlier example that might have been considered here is Rev Tiyo Soga (1829–1871) who began life as an educationist and moved into the field of ministry and mission (Duncan 2022:33–35). M’Timkulu, like Soga benefitted from mission education. The aim here is to consider M’Timkulu as a liminal character standing between traditional African culture and values and the requirements of liberal reformism in native policy, which he imbibed in part. This was exemplified in the language debate regarding the relative value of vernacular and English languages. M’Timkulu was influenced by Charles Loram who was a leading thinker in education in both South Africa and the United States of America who espoused an adoptionist approach to education by promoting the twin ideas that educational segregation permitted black people to develop at their own rate and that education should accommodate the needs of the host society that led him to favour industrial education as was offered at Tuskegee College, Alabama and which became an integral component of African education, especially in mission institutions.

Consequent field trips facilitated the process of networking and the identification of black people who occupied leadership roles. M’Timkulu favoured an approach that laid the foundations of racial peace, as was the case at Tuskegee, but this tended to deny the reality of his South African context and the role of education in working towards justice, which is characterised by the difference between ‘keeping’ the peace and ‘making’ peace, which might involve conflict in the struggle for liberation.

It is interesting to observe that part of the approach advocated by M’Timkulu had been adopted by missionary institutions from the 1850s when:

Mission education was co-opted into [Sir George] Grey’s [Governor of Cape Colony, 1854–1861] plans to develop the [eastern] frontier area and subdue the black population, [develop] industrial and vocational training. (Duncan 2022:16)

This was part of the individual land tenure system that was introduced to the Eastern Cape by governor Cathcart and further promoted by Sir George Grey during the 1850s with the intention of ‘completing the economic liberation of the individual from the communal authority of the chief’ and as a solution to the ubiquitous intermittent raids (Peires 1989:290). This policy was adopted by successive principals of Lovedale Missionary Institution James Stewart (1870–1905) and James Henderson (1905–1930), both of whom had visited Tuskegee and Hampton colleges in the United States of America and formed ‘deep positive impression[s] on them’ (Ward 1999:218 in ed. Hastings 1999:192–237) by their:

[O]ffering an education which was adapted to the particular economic and social conditions of the community, that is, one which did not fundamentally call into question those conditions, even if they colluded with racial inequality and injustice. (p. 218)

This produced a paradoxical response of ‘subversive subservience’, a concept developed by De Kock (1996) in his book Civilising Barbarians:

The strategy identified … in which African public expression ostensibly showed respect for imperial values, but in fact confronted the colonial world with the supplementary incongruities of those values in the deferred South African context, depended on a stable presence of ‘civilisation’. But there was no undoing the ambivalences of colonial identity. Thus the paradox that when Africans adopted missionary discourse and used it to fight for the equality implicit in the promise of ‘civilisation, ‘civilisation itself proved to be the most ambivalent signifier of all. (p. 140)

This resonates with Scott’s (1990) ‘hidden transcript’ theory. These are among important studies of indigenous response to domination through colonisation.

M’Timkulu (1949) carried out some of his most important work as the implementation of apartheid approached and as he became a leader in the development of African educational policy along with teachers who constituted the majority intellectual voice in communities. His vision was clear: ‘The African must be integrated into the democratic structure and institutions of this country’.

Chapter 7: The modernisation of tradition? isiXhosa literature and school history: 1920–1948 – reform in the work of Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi (with appendices relating to Mqhayi’s writings)

Mqhayi promoted Xhosa culture through his writings and was critical of colonial education. He did so both as an insider and an outsider in relation to the mission and state education systems as he emphasised the right of people to retain their own culture within an ever broadening educational context. Like M’Timkulu, he challenged colonial education in the fields of language and culture. Mqhayi, a member of the emerging mission educated elite, focused on the positive role of Xhosa history and culture within a dynamic context of a nation, which had been subjugated during the 19th century and whose disenfranchisement was continued during the first half of the 20th century following the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

While acknowledging the need for Africans to ‘adapt’ within a rapidly changing situation was marked by the evolving politics of apartheid, he promoted their indigenous African cultural inheritance while simultaneously challenging both the formal state curriculum and the ‘civilising’ influence of mission education. His promotion of cultural heritage was anathema to the missionaries. They were reluctant to publish some of his works that disagreed with and challenged the missionary discourse as they were considered to be at odds with Christian values. The contents and interpretations in his literary output led to deteriorating relationships with James (not John, Kallaway 2021:270) Henderson, principal of Lovedale and, his successor, R.H.W. Shepherd. The issue here was delineated by Jafta (1971):

The aim of the missionary was to spread the gospel and also influence the Xhosa to accept an international way of life that would be acceptable in the civilised world. (p. 14)

This only fulfilled one part of the Xhosa vision that Mqhayi sought to express; the other was to develop and promote an indigenous approach to Xhosa history, language and culture. However, the Cape Education Department and the missionary managers of Lovedale Press were restraining elements. With regard to the publication of Mqhayi’s works it is a tragedy that:

A number of Mghayi’s important works were either refused publication by Lovedale Press, … or were severely edited to remove what were considered to be ‘inappropriate’ views, or ultimately lost in the publication process. (Kallaway 2021:275)

This did not only affect Mqhayi’s work (Duncan 2000b; Kallaway 2021:275):

It is unfortunate that we do not, for the most part, have access to some of the original manuscripts, eg., three manuscripts of SEK Mqhayi, possibly the greatest writer in Xhosa of the period, were lost (Opland 1997:308). The losing of these and other manuscripts deposited in the hands of canny Scots missionaries is an inexplicably strange occurrence. (pp. 292–293)

It is difficult not to attribute sinister motives when Scots missionaries were known for their meticulous record-keeping. Frankly, ‘there is evidence that Lovedale effectively manipulated its control over the production of Xhosa manuscripts until its monopoly was broken by the state in the 1950s (Duncan 2000b:293–296).

There is no chapter 8 as indicated in page 28 of the introduction. However, there is a conclusion on pages 313–315.

Conclusion (of Kallaway 2021)

Kallaway (2021:313) acknowledges the problems faced in undertaking a study such as this in what he terms of a ‘not well defined’ area of research. He notes the discrepancy in the availability, quantity and quality of sources between Euro-American and indigenous contexts. He notes the humanitarian concerns as expressed in the development of welfare projects through networking at various levels spatially and chronologically in the field of education and development. These have their origins in the early missionary of the early 19th century and as time progressed reduced the distinctions ‘between the sacred and the profane, the religious and the scientific, the idealistic and the practical’ (Kallaway 2021:314). But they were also influenced by the growth of nationalism and socialism as key factors in policy development. He takes account of the specific contributions of social anthropology and linguistics. He limits African response to M’Timkulu and Mqhayi, although there were many more responses made by anonymous persons.


Kallaway’s collection of papers were delivered at various venues over a period of time. Nonetheless, they demonstrate a remarkable coherence in relation to the overall theme as defined in the book title. Kallaway places his discussion in the broader context of global issues of the period under review. However, he has not clearly demarcated the processes by which these outcomes were inculturated in the SA context.

The discussion of the role of external agencies, including religious agencies such as the IMC is valuable because to date, only students of Missiology would be aware of the IMC and related conferences referred to in this volume, especially from the viewpoint of education. Furthermore, little attention has been given to the role of institutions such as the British colonial office and its agents in modern educational thinking.

Kallaway has listed some of the key players in the development of educational thinking in Africa during the first half of the 20th century, especially with regard to the universalising approach compared with the indigenous approach. It is noticeable how, wittingly or unwittingly, some of the modernising approaches adapted led to the growth of segregationist ideas. It is clear that the introduction of Bantu education in 1953 introduced a new paradigm, yet it remained the case that plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose [the more things change, the more they remain the same] was distinguished only by a change of power agency and ideological perspective.

Prior to that, mission education had made a significant place for itself with its evangelising aim, although this was subtly implemented through the process of character formation (Duncan 2000b:160–168, 225–248). It was not that the curriculum was not skewed towards conversion. There was a great deal of Christian emphasis in what was taught and the overt catechising process and worship offerings in Christian colleges. In line with other denominational institutions, Lovedale had a clear Christian orientation:

Thus Lovedale from the first stood for what the blatant creeds of today ignore – for God, for making God known, for God’s kingdom and the ingathering of men into it. (Lovedale Missionary Institution Annual Report 1941:11)

However, there was a more subtle ideological motive at work in the process of this formative approach. This was character formation, which permeated the entire curriculum:

We teach it all day long. We teach it in arithmetic by accuracy. We teach it in language by learning to say what we mean. We teach it in geography by breadth of mind. We teach it in handicraft by thoroughness. We teach it in astronomy by reverence. We teach it in the playground by fair-play. We teach it by kindness to animals, by courtesy to servants, by good manners to one another, and by truthfulness in all things. (Shepherd 1971:124)

What is interesting here is that the components of character formation are not at all Christian; they are more humanistic and humanitarian and tend towards the formation of integrity. However, when wedded to the Christian value system, Shepherd took the view that ‘there can only be failure if the whole life of the institution through and through and permeated with a religious atmosphere’ (Shepherd 1971:124; White 1987:29). However, it is necessary to remember that only a minority of African children had access to mission and government education. The majority had no opportunity other than to continue to accept the benefits of informal education. This indicates that Africa was ready for a ground-breaking change.

The onset of independence throughout Africa from the 1950s, presented an opportunity to re-evaluate educational provision and methodologies. However, most countries retained the English universities’ matriculation examinations and perpetuated foreign epistemologies and maintained foreign administrative, religious and educational systems. It was still the practice for aspiring learners to go abroad to undertake higher education despite the emergence of universities in the new African states. When they returned to their homes they brought with them the cultural trappings of British or American education systems. If they entered academic life as teachers or lecturers they promoted the educational paradigms they had imbibed. This hindered the development of indigenous knowledge systems, which are still marginalised. Until recently, this has remained the case although there is a growing cadre of lecturers who are home grown and reflect local interests and values in teaching and research. Yet, institutions of learning continue to promote the ethos and values of Western educational systems and these are now being challenged. Despite the process of bringing several education systems into a unitary system within a young democracy in South Africa and a certain levelling out of opportunity the fragmentation and alienation, which were inherent in earlier systems persists.

It is out of deep dissatisfaction that protest against the existing forms of education arose. The first opposition in South Africa arose in 1976 in the midst of apartheid amongst school children. The most recent indication that all was far from well in education erupted with the #FeesMustFall student-led protest movement that began in mid-October 2015. The aims of the movement were to arrest increases in student fees and to increase government funding of universities. The movement spread throughout the country and raised issues related to the decolonisation of education, including other student-driven campaigns such as #RhodesMustFall or ‘Why Is My Curriculum So White’? These campaigns highlighted the Eurocentrism of university curricula, which frequently buttress a white, Western worldview while devaluing indigenous voices and perpetrating stereotypes. This is all part of a movement known as ‘decolonising the curriculum’ that is linked to an increasing demand for the Africanisation of the educational system, particularly in the higher education system. It is unfortunate that Kallaway did not extend his period of investigation to include events related to opposition to apartheid education and the rise of the demand for radical change, particularly the call for Africanisation. Had this historical analysis been available it might have proved to be an important reference and aid for the African National Congress (ANC) in its reorganisation of South African education. He is clearly ambivalent towards Africanisation as he promotes a universalising approach which, in effect, continues to offer a Eurocentric approach. What we have at present is a European epistemological paradigm enhanced with a few concessions to African conceptualisation. But are they mutually incompatible? Perhaps consideration needs to be given to changing the epistemological paradigm from that of the United States of America and Europe to a paradigm based in African philosophy, which takes account of the value and necessity of Western epistemologies in the global context.


Naidoo (2016:2) emphasises that in South Africa:

The debate on Africanisation has developed because of the larger discourse on the transformation of higher education; to undo decades of injustice caused by apartheid. The transformation of universities involves major academic, intellectual and philosophical arguments about whose knowledge to teach, learn and research. These discourses are made up of issues around curriculum reform, internationalisation, the role of higher education in a newly democratic country and the issue of Africanisation. (Letsekha 2013:1)

She points to the problematic nature of defining Africanisation but lists several common features – ‘the affirmation of African culture, traditions and value systems and foster an understanding of African consciousness’ (Naidoo 2016:3) or identity. Definition is the task of Africans themselves taking account of ‘the massive diversity in Africa and the multiplicity of ways of being African’ (Duncan 2000a:29) and being religiously African:

Africanisation is not merely a form of cultural romanticism or a form of cultural nationalism but will need to involve a critical appraisal of African traditions and cultures against the criteria of their liberational import. (Maluleke 2006:73)

But this has to be seen, as Naidoo indicates, within the context of internationalisation. Botha (2010:201) suggests that ‘internationalisation … states the more a university chooses to Africanise the less it can internationalise and vice versa’. This is a major issue facing education because the present system resists the development of non-Eurocentric models through the competitiveness of world ranking tables that determine the factors, which influence placing in the system.

It is difficult to transform a developing educational system when uniform norms of ‘success’ and ‘leadership’ being strived for are set by highly developed world-class universities and prestigious newspapers who take no account of contextual distinctiveness. (Duncan 2016:9)

As a result institutions focus on these criteria rather than what kind of higher education is required for the development of Africa. It is important to note that education is not a static process but is dynamic in whatever context it operates. However, as this process advances it will have to encompass the entire education system. An Africanised form of education cannot be introduced at university level if it has not been integrated throughout the education system. Africanisation also requires that Africans themselves have confidence in their capacity to design, implement, evaluate and sustain a new educational model because it will require an enormous amount of energy, wisdom innovation to see the project come to fruition regardless of the phenomenal cost.


Kallaway has given an excellent overview of the educational history of Africa with a particular reference to South Africa, especially by highlighting the issues related to colonisation during the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in South Africa. We observed the humanitarian emphasis that was developing globally and was evident throughout the period under consideration. This was particularly clear in mission education. It is also clear that education cannot be considered in isolation but must be recognised as having political, economic, social and religious implications within society as part of the evolving pedagogical agenda. Kallaway’s response to the challenges elucidated provides a substantial agenda for future research and encourages the questioning of all we do in order to produce a coherent education system, which will be useful as we journey into the future.


Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Author’s contributions

G.A.D. is the sole author of this research article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.


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