Journal Article

Social Work and the ‘Missionary Zeal to Whip the Heathen Along the Path of Righteousness’<sup>1</sup>


in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 29, issue 1, pages 5-26
Published in print February 1999 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 1999 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Social Work and the ‘Missionary Zeal to Whip the Heathen Along the Path of Righteousness’1

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Ever since Western forms of social work were first imported to Africa, a serious debate has been raging on whether they fit the African context Most of this debate has concentrated, however, on the techniques of Western social work as opposed to the ends to which they are put, which, being underpinned by Western values, are essentially alien to African culture. Applying Western social work in Africa can be viewed, therefore, as continuing the work of the missionaries who sought to remake Africans in their own image. Following a summary of the arguments why Africa might require a form of social work of its own, this article explores the chances of such indigenization and concludes that it might be nigh impossible unless research involving reflective learning by African social workers with their clients is placed at the centre of social work practice.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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