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In God’s EmpireFrench Missionaries and the Modern World$
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Owen White and J.P. Daughton

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195396447

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195396447.001.0001

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The “Catechist War” in Interwar French Cameroon

The “Catechist War” in Interwar French Cameroon

(p.233) 11 The “Catechist War” in Interwar French Cameroon
In God’s Empire

Kenneth J. Orosz

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the tensions between French mandate officials and Catholic missionaries of the Congrégation du Saint-Esprit (or Spiritans) in Cameroon. In particular, the so-called “catechist war,” which raged from 1930 to 1933, witnessed a crack-down on missionary work as officials felt anxiety and betrayal stemming from four Spiritan policies that threatened the French civilizing mission and the program of mise en valeur. These included the Spiritan decision to downplay French language instruction in favor of local languages, to challenge chieftains as sources of local authority, and to make vocal criticism of forced labor policies by taking complaints directly to the League of Nations. In the eyes of administrators, these policies not only complicated efforts to Gallicize Cameroon and develop the local economy, they also threatened to embarrass France internationally.

Keywords:   Cameroon, League of Nations, mandates, Spiritans

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