Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-cjp7w Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-23T08:03:04.153Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

4 - Migration, Work, and the Life of Salvation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2022

Get access

Summary

Introduction

The East African Revival's message of a radical discontinuity between past and present set people moving from spiritual darkness to the light of salvation; but it also put converts into motion, prodding them to traverse the interlacustrine region, often with small teams of fellow revivalists, spreading this message of salvation. These forms of movement, spiritual and physical, have often been noted in previous histories of the revival. What has been less considered is how the revival movement itself was embedded within larger trends of movement and migration in late colonial East Africa. The revival gave identity and meaning to those experiencing dislocation from the changes and challenges associated with migration in late colonial East Africa. The East African Revival, therefore, is part of the spiritual history of migration.

The revival expanded during a period of significant population shifts in the interlacustrine region, and revivalists were far from being the only people who were on the move there. Colonial labor conscription in the early twentieth century, the spread of epidemics around Lake Victoria, the growth of towns and cities, and the large number of short-term agricultural laborers all impacted village life throughout the region. The history of the revival, therefore, is inextricable from the various forms and types of movement that occurred before and after the movement emerged in the mid-1930s. Unlike various “ethnic nationalists,” who sought to reify ethnic particularity by codifying the normative behaviors of their “tribe” or “people,” revivalists viewed the dislocation that resulted from these regional population shifts as an opportunity, not a problem. Revivalists saw a new vision for the future in the midst of these migrations, and their message of moving from darkness to light caught the ears of those who were themselves on the move.

Conversion to the revival movement connected those who had migrated or who were experiencing the ramifications of migration, emphasizing cosmopolitan fellowship over parochial identities. The revival had a particular appeal to those who worked in the new professions, such as schoolteachers, clerks, and nurses—people who had encountered the disruptions brought by the colonial order of things. Revivalists believed fellowship was for anyone who would confess their sins and live a life of radical openness with other “brethren,” regardless of ethnicity, race, or language. Though this cosmopolitan vision was an ideal that was not universally or uniformly upheld, it nevertheless reflects that the revival was itself a product of migration, and revivalists developed a spiritual lifestyle for people on the move in a colonial world.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×