Livingstonia Missionaries and White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa)


Kenneth David Kaunda during a working visit to President Reagan, 3/30/1983

Kenneth Kaunda was born on 28 April 1924 at Lubwa Mission in Chinsali, then part of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, and was the youngest of eight children. His father, the Reverend David Kaunda, was an ordained Church of Scotland missionary and teacher, who had been born in Nyasaland (now Malawi) and had moved to Chinsali, to work at Lubwa Mission. His mother was also a teacher and was the first African woman to teach in colonial Zambia.

Lusaka, Embassy Park: Here lies a gallant freedom fighter, the African Child, Kenneth Kaunda. He came from a missionary family from Malawi that had settled in Lubwa. Born on 28th April 1924 and died on 17th June 2021, at the age of 97.

One notices the difference in evangelisation between White Fathers and the Livingstonia Mission who stressed the education of Africans in practical skills and in particular qualities which were consonant with the Calvinistic ethic as opposed with the Roman-Catholic, the White Fathers. For the Livingstonia Mission salvation was through individual faith in Christ; for the White Fathers the Sacraments, especially baptism, led to salvation. Lubwa Mission used literacy and intellectual agreement with the contents of the catechism as criteria for admission to church membership. For the Livingstonia Mission new members were incorporated into the structure of the Mission as teachers, evangelists, catechists, or paid employees of the Mission. The converts were initially mainly young men, exhibiting a westernized style of life. There emerged a competition between the White Fathers and the Livingstonia missionaries in the area of evangelisation. The phenomenon of evangelisation brought a rift between families and clans (Erie I, 1991).
In the 1940s Lubwa missionaries came under criticism by young mission teachers like Kaunda and Kapwepwe, who established a Chinsali Branch of the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress at Lubwa. There was opposition especially in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) to amalgamate or federate Northern and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
As orally narrated by some old White Fathers like Fr Robert Lavertu, in 1955 Lubwa was confronted with a break-away movement, the Lumpa Church, led by Alice Lenshina (See also Fr Hinfelaars 1985, 1989). There was a fierce clash in 1964 between the Lumpa Church and UNIP and by then the colonial British Government was still in power and in charge of security. Many people died (1000) and this ended in the dispersal of the Lumpa Church. According to Robert Lavertu, a Missionary of Africa who was there at the time, some members of the Lenshina group dispersed into Congo, while others remained in Chinsali and elsewhere in Zambia (Luwingu district).

By Fr Patrick Mumbi

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