Missionaries, Colonial Government and Secret Societies in South-Eastern Igboland, 1920–1950
In recent historiography a critical and nationalist approach has replaced the hagiographical celebration of the triumph of christianity by missionary writers. Missionaries were the path-finders of British influence; their propaganda not only prepared the way for the government and exploiters but ensured the smooth and peaceful occupation of colonialist forces. The more interesting relationship was that which existed between missions and the colonial government. Initially, the Roman Catholic Mission was French and so, they were on the defensive in a British colony. The Protestant missionaries, easily assumed that as co-agents of British influence, colonial officials were obliged to assist them and to heed their informed and godly advice. In the precolonial days, secret societies were so powerful that the outing of a secret society sent uninitiates scurrying. Given the nature and importance of the secret societies in South-Eastern Igboland, the conflict with the new christian change-agents was inevitable.