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Samuel Johnson of Yorubaland, 1846-1901

Identity, Change and the Making of the Mission Agent

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Wolfgang-Ulrich Fischer

This study aims to understand how the nineteenth-century African agent of mission appropriated change without losing cultural integrity. Drawing essentially from the contexts that produced the man, from Sierra Leone to the Yoruba country, the study shows Samuel Johnson as embodying the opportunities and ambivalence that progressively accompanied Yoruba contact with Britain in the people’s war-weary century of change. Largely influenced by German missionaries in the British mission environment of Yorubaland, Johnson had confidence in the bright prospect the missionary message held for his people. This propelled him into a struggle to relieve the distressed country from its woes and to preserve the fading memory of its people. In an age of renewed cultural ferment called globalization, could Johnson offer a lesson in how to appropriate change? This is the concern of this volume.

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Figure 1 Samuel Johnson and Lydia Okuṣẹinde on their wedding day vi Figure 2 The kingdom of Old Ọyọ and its neighbours, c. 1800 28 Figure 3 Territory held by the Ọyọ Yoruba at the death of Atiba in 1859 63 Figure 4 David Hinderer and Anna Hinderer 173

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