Identity, Change and the Making of the Mission Agent
Chapter 9 Change and Decay
We blossom and f lourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish […]. — Walter Chalmers Smith Samuel Johnson’s race against time in the bid to redeem the fading memory of his people was paralleled, tragically, by the same urgency of time at work in his life. From 1893, some processes that were not complementary to life and ministry became manifest in his experience at Ọyọ. It appears the long itineration he undertook on behalf of the Alafin and the governor of Lagos Colony had taken their toll on his health. At the same time, the emerging CMS mission ethos was proving unfavourable, and administra- tive concerns were threatening his continuous stay in the royal city. New and younger European recruits were entering the service of the Society who did not share the old vision of a culturally engaging mission practice of Christianity, commerce and civilization, in which his family had been groomed from their days in Hastings, Sierra Leone.1 The first sign of Johnson’s diminishing vigour became evident in the second half of 1893, when he was out of work for eight weeks and 1 Henry ‘Ẹrugunjimi’ Johnson, Samuel’s father, was a beneficiary of a training pro- gramme organized between the CMS Sierra Leone Mission and the Parent Committee in London. It was part of the missionary agenda of Christianity, commerce and civilization aimed at improving the economic and social condition of Africa. The programme took Henry Johnson to Kew Gardens in 1853 to learn horticulture. H. Venn to...
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