ROLE OF EARLY “MISSIONARIES OF AFRICA” OR “WHITE FATHERS” IN THE STUDY AND DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES
Languages of publication
In virtually all regions of sub-Saharan Africa outside the reach of Islam, Africans were introduced to written literature through Christian propaganda. Christian missionaries’ pioneer work in African languages was scientifically very important. Most African languages had at first to be learned and reduced to writing before the difficult but vital task of religious instruction and the preparation, translation and publication of religious texts could be undertaken. Missionaries supplied unwritten African languages with a written form and provided the beginnings of a translated literature. The very first books in most African languages were produced to advance the Christian cause. The linguistic work of early missionaries in Africa is thus crucial for the correct evaluation of the nineteenth and early twentieth century Christian missionary enterprise.
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