Christianity in East Africa in the XIX Century was dominated by Protestant and Catholic missions which were tied to European imperialism and often had a patronizing attitude toward the native people. Dissatisfied Black Christians began looking for an alternative, first in the African Orthodox Church (which had only marginal ties to historic Orthodoxy) and then in canonical jurisdictions. Although a few Greek traders worked in the area, there were no Orthodox missions whatever; East Africans converted themselves to Orthodoxy, something which has happened only rarely in history. During the Mau-Mau uprisings against the British, the Orthodox were portrayed as enemies of the state and persecuted; this brought their existence to the attention of Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus, who was then leading his own people's struggle for independence against the British Empire and who thereafter used his considerable influence on the East African Church's behalf whenever possible. Most Orthodox parishes in East Africa are today under the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, but some are in ROCOR or are tied to independent jurisdictions of disputed canonicity.
The history of Orthodoxy in West Africa and Southern Africa has thus far followed much the same course as in the East, but is less well documented.
Norman Hugh Redington
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