God’s Feet or the Mission’s Pack Donkey. Evangelists of Namibia

  • Language: English
  • Vol. 15, 2022
  • 416 pages
  • Photographs, maps, tables, index
  • ISBN 978-3-906927-35-0
  • eISBN 978-3-906927-36-7
  • ISSN 1660-9638
  • eISSN 2297-461X
Hans-Martin Milk

God’s Feet or the Mission’s Pack Donkey. Evangelists of Namibia

The title of this book originates from the self-description of Namibian Evangelists in their own words. African evangelists of the Rhenish Mission Society (RMS) played a crucial but mostly overlooked role in shaping the spiritual and social networks that transformed indigenous communities from the early nineteenth century. The author draws from a wide range of German, Namibian and South African archival sources that have been supplemented with a large number of interviews, to explore the history of the indigenous evangelists of the RMS.

African supporters were often the first heralds of the new religion at remote villages and cattle posts before the white strangers made an appearance. The Namibian evangelists’ familiarity with the traditional culture and the local vernacular endowed them with a credibility that many of the European newcomers found difficult to acquire.

By interweaving mission and church history between 1820 and 1990 with a biographical approach, the author brings a hidden chapter in Namibian history to life.

Hans-Martin Milk, born in southern Africa, grew up in Namibia and lived there until he left into Exile in the 1970’s. He returned to Namibia after Independence to teach in Kavango. During this time he started his historical research on the RMS and the Kavango.

1 Introduction

2 Evangelists of the Early Years

3 Evangelists as Sons of the Mighty

4 Evangelists and the Apocalypse

5 Evangelists as Harbingers of Hope

6 Evangelists as Wanderers Between Worlds

7 Evangelists and their Private Lives

8 Evangelists Facing New Challenges

9 Evangelists and the End of their Era

10 Closing Remarks

11 Glossary

12 Nama/Oorlam-Groups in the 19th Century

13 Abbreviations

14 Photograph Acknowledgments

15 Archive Sources

16 Unpublished Sources

17 Periodic Publications

18 Laws and Proclamations

19 Map Sources

20 Interviews

21 Literature

22 Tabularised List of All Evangelists Between 1820 and 1990

23 Tabularised List of Missionaries and Pastors Referred to in the Evangelists List


“This carefully researched study makes an important contribution to Namibian historiography by giving names and, where possible, faces to those Africans whose work changed the fabric of indigenous Namibian communities.” Tilman Dedering in Journal of Namibian Studies, 28 (2020).

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