“Waliletwa na kengele ya kanisa!”: Discourses of Slave Emancipation and Conversion at Ndala Catholic Mission in Western Tanzania, 1896-1913

Salvatory S. Nyanto


Religious discourse has recently attracted attention of anthropologists in Tanzania looking at Christian-Muslim relations and Islamic revivalism within specific social and political contexts. This paper contributes to the existing knowledge of religious discourse in Tanzania by looking at the discourses of slave emancipation and conversion at Ndala within the historical context, that is, from 1896 to 1913. The paper relies on the missionary reports in the diary of Ndala Catholic Mission, secondary sources, and interviews collected at Ndala with descendants of former slaves. The paper employs Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a framework to examine vocabularies, expressions, the social contexts and effects of the discourses of men and women about slavery, emancipation, and conversion at Ndala. The paper also relies on Ruth Wodak’s discourse historical method to analyse the social processes, in historical context, of slave emancipation and conversion reported in the diary of Ndala, written sources, and the interviews of descendants of former slaves.

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