Douglas Hooper’s Plan for East Africa

Douglas Hooper went to British East Africa in 1885, where he was appointed Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. He was the second to hold that bishopric, his predecessor having been speared to death on his arrival in Uganda. Hooper went as a self-funded missionary, and also funded another missionary to come with him. He was also a close friend of Handley Moule, the prolific New Testament scholar, Keswick speaker, and supporter of evangelical missions. Hooper’s son, Handley,and his grandson, Cyril, both followed in his footsteps in serving in Kenya as missionaries.

Hooper was converted during Moody and Sankey’s Cambridge mission in 1882, an oft-forgotten watershed moment for the global evangelical movement. The revival atmosphere at Cambridge led to the commissioning of a host of new missionaries, such as the C. T. Studd and the “Cambridge Seven,” Douglas Thornton, and Ion Keith-Falconer (to name just a few!). With such an outpouring at one of the world’s top universities, and such a key moment for world missions, it should come as no surprise that Hooper’s four strategic concerns—team mentality, pre-field training, apostolic focus, and indigenous methods—have lost none of their relevance. Although, I would add to #2, that I am quite sure East Africa needed women just as sorely as “men.”

Douglas Hooper (an old Harrovian and Trinity Hall man) has come home, some months ago, from Africa, where he has been working under the Church Missionary Society for four years.

He has come back with a new plan of work on the East of Africa, which he has laid before the Church Missionary Society, and which they have accepted and promised to supply the necessaries for, if he can find the men. It is to take five or six Cambridge men and make a station on a new route to the Victoria Nyanza, between Frere Town and the Lake: on the  principle of living as simply and as much in native style as is possible. There are four points in his plan on which he lays stress:—

(1.) Not less than five or six men.—The deadening effect of heathendom is such that isolated men succumb to it.

(2.) Cambridge men.—Experience has convinced him that educated gentlemen are absolutely needed for Africa.

(3.) A new route.—Virgin soil—because, on the old routes, the natives are so habituated to the old system of buying the chiefs’ favour by innumerable presents, that those who go on another principle are not tolerated.

(4.) Native style.—As far cheaper and healthier—so he says by experience—and also as the right way of getting into touch with the natives.

Source: Letter of George L. Pilkington to his father. Dated November 3, 1889. Pilkington of Uganda.

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