The “Catechist War” in Interwar French Cameroon

Kenneth J. Orosz

in In God’s Empire

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396447
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979318 | DOI:
The “Catechist War” in Interwar French Cameroon

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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

Chapter.  9639 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Religion

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