THE LATER EPISCOPATE
FRANK believed that God had made of one blood all the nations of men, that our Lord had come to be the servant of all, had died for all, and had commissioned His disciples to serve and suffer gladly, that all might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. He could not understand a missionary who adopted the attitude of a master with benevolent intentions; the missionary, he thought, should only be eager to serve. He complained that so many were trying to be very kind to Africans, and he compared them with certain slum workers at home who mean to be very kind to the poor. For the Africans and the poor he resented this patronage; for him there was only one way of service--it was the way of the Incarnation--a man must make himself one with those whom he wished to serve.
In The East and the West (January 1918) Mr. Keable, who had worked for two years in Zanzibar, and left the Mission for Basutoland, criticised native priests. He dwelt on their weakness in wishing to be treated as though they were Europeans, their touchy pride and their inefficiency in dealing with their own people. He alluded also to certain moral lapses which were well known. All Frank's chivalry was enlisted in defence of his native clergy, many of whom he reverenced and admired. He wrote a crushing reply. It was his best controversial article, full of irony and self-restraint, and he clearly convicted his opponent of expecting from African priests a standard of life which, as an Englishman, he had never proposed for himself.
Frank's sensitive heart throbbed in union with the African's sensitiveness. He felt the pathos of the black man's question: 'Can we ever become white?' It was not that the black man was dissatisfied with his colour, it was that the black man found how impossible it was to surmount the colour-bar. A flippant missionary once said at dinner: 'I hope we shall, at least, find that they have become brown in heaven,' and the Bishop grimly replied: 'If we ever get there.'
Frank hated such talk, for the Africans were his children and his friends. I remember his anger after a missionary meeting, at which the deputation had kept his audience in a state of merriment by telling one funny story after another about his converts. He said: ' How dare he turn his children into ridicule, when he has gone to them with the message that the Lord Christ died on their behalf.'
Englishmen go to Africa and force on the natives their manufactured articles and then laugh at the incongruity of the natives using them. Englishmen insist on their own standard of life, and then find the native adaptation of it irresistibly comic. It never occurs to the Englishman how ridiculous he would look if the parts were reversed, and he were called on to play the African.
To an Englishman one 'nigger' is just like another, he cannot tell them apart. He has a generalised conception of niggerdom, and one manner towards all the race. But the African cannot distinguish between white men--the fine flower of Eton and Oxford and the less polished product from a slum in Shoreditch are all to him white men; and he does not always judge of the race by its best exponents.
When race cleavage is so complete that distinctions cannot be recognised, it is difficult to see how the gulf can ever be bridged. Frank saw a way and was bold enough to follow it. He found it' necessary to adopt as far as possible African ways in order to help his African priests to feel at home in his own house.' In 1919 he sent a circular letter to his staff, saying that in future he intended to live as much as possible with natives, and must not be expected to pay long visits to European Mission stations.
Frank believed in the Catholic Church, and that the Catholic Church was the means provided by our Lord for the world's redemption and therefore for the redemption of the African race. But just because it is the Catholic Church, every race within it must express itself naturally, and not in the terms, or according to the manners, of aliens. He did not think that it was his business to drill Africans until they became comic imitations of Anglican churchmen; it was his business to help Africans to build up the Church on their own lines. A certain version of Christianity 'in a neat Oxford frame,' he used to say, 'is very suitable for surburban congregations at home; but Africans could only understand a version of their own, and would frame it in a fashion of their own contrivance.'
Full of these ideas, during the War, he began to concentrate on training an African clergy. Far from the days of Mazizini, with his garnered experience, he planned to train them on the mainland in African surroundings, where with their own families they could live their normal lives.
In the summer of 1917 he chose his site on a little hill not far from Msalabani, which is known as Hegongo, or the Hog's Back. Here, before the War, had been the Girls' School in a great stone house. The detached schoolroom was converted into the Chapel of St. Athanasius, while the rest of the buildings were adapted for a resident warden and lecture rooms. Then he built seven four-roomed houses for his students and their families. A year later he built a house for himself. One who has visited it since his death writes:
What a palace! Just a mud-built [it is really of sun-dried bricks], straw-thatched, humble-looking building. First we went into the room which must have been study, dining-room and every other kind of room, except bedroom, combined. There were his books as he left them. Opposite was the little bedroom almost bare except for a rough wooden bed, such as would be relegated to the backyard by most people. . . Only one other room remained--his private chapel.
What a palace! No! it had no courtyard, and Frank, if he had not been so particular about words, would have called it a palace right enough. As it was, he was content to have neatly printed on his note-paper--'Bishop's Lodge, Muheza, Tanga'; and it is characteristic that his stationery would not have disgraced Lambeth or Fulham.
The whole work, except his own house, was completed in a month. Frank was on the spot and Frank was in a hurry: so his 200 labourers and one overseer worked with a will. As they finished to time, Frank gave them an ox and two sacks of rice, and he enjoyed the glorious fire, the great roasting, and the consequent feast. Next day the Bishop, in cope and mitre, dedicated the Chapel and blessed the houses with correct ceremonial and some ecclesiastical pomp; but at the rear of the procession came the labourers carrying before them the entrails and tail of the ox--this also was ritual and had a meaning for the African mind.
The seven students at once settled in; and Frank, shut off from much of his diocese by the War, for the first year acted as Warden. The character of his students and the course of their study we may learn from his article in The East and the West^ when he replied to Mr. Keable:
I have just come in from a walk of seventeen miles with a man whom I am preparing for the priesthood. . . . My companion of to-day f met first in 1898 at our teachers' college at Zanzibar. He was then a very small boy of about fourteen. It was my privilege to teach him, preparing him to be a teacher and catechist. He left me about 1905, returning to his own people in the Muheza country. He is a great evangelist and an admirable outdoor preacher, and does wonders by speaking at night in the villages. It is no exaggeration to say that some hundreds have asked for teaching after attending the lantern services in their villages. The lantern we provide. The oil is bought by those who invite him to bring it to their village.
At the word 'lantern' I can see Mr. Keable's face alive with reproof! ' There you are, a magic lantern I What is there African about that?' But he does not depend on the lantern. And he is in every way as African as can be. He has a normal African home; he is famous for his power and skill as a tiller of the soil; he has no knowledge of European ways except what he gained as a small schoolboy from waiting on his schoolmaster, and from meeting us continually. |His household is African: his food is African: his ways are African. The only thing which you will find in his menu which is not African is coffee locally grown, or perhaps tea, if coffee fails him. He got to like coffee through the kindness of his native guards at Tabora, who handed over to the prisoners their rations of coffee that they did not themselves care to use. He eats the native food, cooked in the native way, out of the same dish with his friends. So much for his attitude to his brethren of Africa.
Now for his theological training. He has received from me during the last ten months or so instruction on these lines.
1. A simple summary of the Christian religion in the form of lectures on dogma. He is already a skilful catechist, and can make simple people grasp necessary truths.
2. A 'bird's-eye' view of the growth of the Old Testament with such general explanation of the Law and the Prophets as seems necessary to one with African problems to face and Old Testament lections to read in Church; obviously we could not deal with all the books.
3. A 'bird's-eye ' view of the New Testament with analyses of the Gospels and paraphrases of the Epistles, simple, yet full enough to make his own reading intelligible, and his grasp of the history of the Apostolic age firm. Then he knows briefly what, for example, Romans is about; what Ephesians means by the Church; and what St. James was trying to say of Christian morals. He has heard nothing about authorship, text, or disputed meanings, except in a very few cases of real importance. And again, we could not teach all the books.
4. A 'bird's-eye' view of the history of the Church that shows him why we, the Romans and the Lutherans, exist side by side; why C.M.S. and U.M.C.A. don't agree, and what Kikuyu sprang from. That is, he has a very simple notion of what the Church was meant to be and will become; what the Papacy stands for; what the Reformation accomplished; and how the English Church became 'comprehensive.' He knows the danger of leaning on the State, even on its weakest native official; the peril of worldliness in churchmen; the trouble that always follows schism; and the sins of ecclesiastics. If he follows the worldly path, it will be his own fault.
5. He has had from two kind padres some careful lectures on 'Grace and Sacraments' and some detailed teaching on St. John's Gospel.
6. He has had from me detailed instruction on how to say Mass, how to behave in the confessional, with clear directions about absolution, penance, satisfaction, and questions adapted to his own surroundings; and also how to live as an African priest among his own people. When he is ordained he will say Mass at the College until he is competent to perform the Liturgy.
7. He has been taught how to make mental prayer, and has practised it half an hour a day for all these months.
8. He has been given an Office Book containing morning, mid-day, evening, and night Offices, with the Psalter duly arranged; and he has taken his turn in reading them.
9. He knows how to conduct the usual devotions of Christians outside Mass and Offices; for he has shared their performance. As soon as he is a priest, he will conduct the necessary devotions.
This man is one of seven I am at present preparing for the priesthood. They all live African lives. They have adopted coats, it is true; they possess a shirt or two, and they like knickers under their long African robes as did the Semite Moses. They also buy Lipton's cheapest tea when it is at peace prices, and a little sugar. Their 'library lamp' is usually a hurricane lamp and their oil American. They eat what other natives eat, as other natives eat. Two of them have had a small experience of European ways at table now and again. The others have none at all.
So Frank trained Africans to be priests to Africans, and before he died the native clergy outnumbered the European missionaries.
But if Frank was zealous in the work of providing an African ministry, he was equally keen that they should worship in African churches, built by Africans themselves on their own plan. In 1922 he reviewed his diocese with some satisfaction in Central Africa:
In the Ruvuma district I visited and ministered Sacraments in nineteen churches. Of these one is stone, Masasi. The rest are all mud and stick, eighteen in all. And the Mission helped to build only three of these . . . fifteen were built by Africans without any help from England. Of these several are very big indeed. In one, on Ash Wednesday, 300 people seemed to me to take up so little room as at first to disappoint me. ... In Zigualand . . . Canon Limo has a church of sun-dried bricks. I allowed him a little money for cement work, and some second-hand corrugated iron: for the rest, the teachers and priests bought many sheets of iron for the roof, the people themselves making some 50,000 bricks and contributing to the cost of laying the same. I also helped a little with the wages of the bricklayers. In Zigualand Archdeaconry there are many small village churches all built by the people. The stone churches are Korogwe and the small chapel of Kwa Sigi. In the Shambala hills all the churches are of mud and stick. It is only in the Magila district that we have departed from this rule, and that for good reason. Msalabani, Misozwe, and Mkuzi have stone churches, built in the first days, as they have stone houses. Africans in any case disapprove of a house of better material than the church. We have several mud churches built by the people. We have two churches in sun-dried brick, with stone pillars, partly built by the children of All Hallows, Gospel Oak, and partly by the local Christians' free labour; and we are building two churches on the same lines out of the (Harrison Memorial Fund. . . . When Africans build for themselves without European supervision they build wide churches and the centre part is left empty. One of the most damaging influences of European missionaries upon African social customs is our habit of bringing the men and women near together, and insisting on women pressing close to the men on their way to the altar. I long for the day when our Sunday parochial Masses will be said at nave altars set against the north and south wall, so that men and women can sit well apart and the women go straight forward to communion without approaching the men.
In the same year he spoke of the development of corporate life in the African Church.
The village school is the centre of unity. There is a teacher who works in with two or more elected elders. These men are responsible for the local church, with the padre of the district. They are attached to a central church, which has its own council of elders, to whom all real difficulties can be referred. These elders are responsible for co-operating with the padre in settling cases of discipline, in maintaining the Christian standard, in keeping an eye on the building of schools and teachers' houses, and in collecting money for church expenses. From the local central church chosen representatives go to the Bishop's council in each archdeaconry. This council deals with the African expenses of the Church, pays the salaries of clergy and teachers, and advises the Bishop on all matters he may submit to it. It is responsible for trying to collect free-will offerings from the various churches in its area, and no money may be paid without its authority. . . .
These councils now exist everywhere in the diocese. Progress is slow; but we have gained several important points. For example, Zigualand has realised the ideal of self-support. Korogwe gives me 500 rupees a year for the general fund, and has built for itself necessary accommodation for converts coming in from a distance for instruction, in addition to paying its own church expenses and sending help to poorer churches. Canon Limo's district gives me a tithe of its crops for the diocese. In other places the elders have tried planting crops to be sold for the Church. On all sides there are signs that the people, while almost without cash, are beginning to recognise the duty of doing what they can to help their church. All this is to the good: and we have no right to despair of self-support what time the country becomes flourishing. In any case self-support is before the people's minds, and we have an organisation ready to our hands. This is no small gain. . . .
Many people rarely see money these days: Indians buy their produce for cloth as much as possible; and offerings to the church made in kind are very difficult to deal with. The elders are not at all willing to be responsible for an assortment of food-stuffs brought in on Sundays: it is difficult to store them, sometimes impossible; and to sell them when food is plentiful is bad business. . . .
Another hindrance lies in the inability of church elders to keep accounts. They require help. And, on European stations, the danger is that they may be relieved of some of their responsibilities in order to save time and trouble. They are supposed themselves to keep the accounts, though a secretary does the writing for them; and no money should be paid out, even for wine and wafers, without their authority.
So an autonomous Christian Church was being built up in Tanganyika Territory by slow degrees; but one thing remained to be done. Long before, as we have seen, Bishop Hine had contemplated removing the training college for teachers from Kiungani to the mainland, and on this Frank finally determined. He wanted the boys in the future not to be taken away from their natural surroundings and brought into contact with the life of a great city like Zanzibar, but to be brought up in the neighbourhood of those with whom they were to live and whom they were to serve. Kiungani in future was to be the high school for Zanzibar boys, but the teachers' college was to be in the country at Minaki,1 some seventeen miles inland from Dar-es-Salaam. This change was only effected after his death, for there were many delays. In the last speech which he made in England, he said:
We have the site, but we cannot get any further, because first the Indian contractors want to build a place far more expensive than we intend to build, and in the second place the last Indian who went to examine the spot, with the view to making up a contract, was driven away by lions, and the lions are at present in possession.
Some day there may be African Bishops of Masasi, Magila, and Korogwe, but for that the time has not come. As things were, Frank wanted to be a real father and not merely the alien ruler of his black children. In Zanzibar, Tanga, and Dar-es-Salaam he was first of all the European, but at Hegongo he lived among Africans as if he were one of them. His successor writes:
His home at Hegongo, so far as an African Bishop can be said to have a home, was a wonderful place--wonderful to us Europeans, and still more so to the Africans, who had never before found a European so accessible, and one who understood them so thoroughly and sympathetically. Within those walls at Hegongo there was no barrier between African and European such as is so often the case, even where aims and intentions are of the very best. It was all a beautiful
The site chosen has not, however, proved a success. Though central in position, and therefore comparatively easy of access for both Yaos and Bondeis, Minaki is not really the home of either, while the coast influence of Dar-es-Salaam is said to be as bad as that simple relationship of a father and his children . . . there he made himself to be as Bishop a real father to his African priests whom he had ordained; there he proved himself a generous friend to every African--Christian, Mohammedan, or Pagan--who had a mind to get to him through its ever open door, and always found him, tired and worn out as he often was, ready to listen with a patience and simplicity which were a marvel to us all.
It was at Hegongo that he kept a cat named 'Simba' who followed him about, even into church, and would sit on his shoulders while he heard confessions. In the Middle Ages such a cat would have been regarded as his familiar spirit, and might have brought him to the stake; but Africans have their own superstitions and do not share ours.
Throughout his episcopate he was getting more and more into personal touch with the people. Before the War he had intended to have a great mission in the Magila district, and had planned to send out his teachers to collect all the people together, hoping to arouse the lapsed and the indifferent by great services, sermons, and mass enthusiasm. After the War he preferred to go out himself into the little villages, and night after night he would preach to little groups of heathen and Christians in the open air, and deal with slackers and Christians under censure face to face.
He no longer restricted himself to serious cases of discipline reserved by parish priests for an episcopal decision. These cases, especially when on tour, still took up much of his time and tired him terribly. He was also ready to adjust domestic differences, where he could not speak with authority, and in which he could not always hope to be successful. A padre writes:
I remember a man and his wife who could not agree as to which of them had the duty of providing clothes for the children. They agreed to differ and the children went naked. These were two wild, shy little boys who did not go to school. They had reached an age when they were ashamed to appear in public. The Bishop spent hours in bringing the parents to an agreement. He then went away, and I am afraid the agreement was not kept, for the last time I saw the children they still had no clothing.
He was very anxious about personal religion, and very afraid of his converts restricting themselves to a formal round of duties. He wrote to a priest in 1921:
Among our many weaknesses are (i) our inability .to get time for young children, and (2) the amount of corporate acts of religion we have, perforce, to lay upon our people. Africans have gifts of prayer: more than we sometimes allow for. But we do nothing at all, that I can see, to develop them from the earliest days; and we fail to allow for the unspeakable influence upon their prayer of the atmosphere in which they have to live. Of course, I began my African life with isolated Africans, students for Orders and boys at Kiungani. I had the individuals away from the real atmosphere. And therefore I started with a brighter hope for Africans than many newcomers are, able to keep alive. Some of my African friends know a great deal about prayer . . . but they are special cases. Two things the African lacks: (i) a steadfast will, proof against shocks, and (2) a power of detachment from his environment. But I've known these lacks supplied. ... I have seen enough of African prayer-lire to make me sure that, while en masse they appear very much content with attendance at corporate acts of worship, they 'have their thoughts ' and can develop a very deep prayer-life.
It was this prayer-life which was so very precious to himself. It was this desire for prayer, meditation, and self-discipline which made him again and again wonder if he might not resign his See and live a simple life in an African fellowship. I have already quoted a letter which he wrote to me some time before the Lambeth Conference, and another which he wrote to Fr. Cripps in the midst of the struggle over Forced Labour. Here is a third, written to Canon Travers, the secretary at Dartmouth Street.
To me it sometimes seems quite clear that the true path for me is to throw in my lot with Africa, and plunge into African conditions, bearing my witness to White and Black. But it seems at other times that I can serve my Africans better by holding my present office, and there is also my family here to consider. Yet our Lord did not lay much emphasis on ruling, did He?
Again, Gore is quite clear that I must leave the diocese if I leave off ruling it. Here I do not agree: I don't think he understands the diocese, or my mind, quite. But it is conceivable that I am meant to do something as Bishop: and perhaps what I've already begun to do may prove to be the right beginning that will lead to the right goal. Only I get more and more sure that the normal life of ecclesiastical institutions is not the Christ life: and, feeling so sure, I can't avoid the further feeling that I ought to act clearly and show my faith in works 1 Anyone can rule a diocese--at least many can--and many could do it more efficiently than I can: and twenty-one years have passed since I began to be active in Africa. But there are very few who are sufficiently attracted to, and at home with, Africans to feel a drawing to throw in one's lot with them.
For nearly a year Frank remained at Hegongo, except for brief visits to Zanzibar and other places. Then, in 1918, came his visit to Kikuyu. A warden was appointed at the college, and from then onwards Frank only taught the students from time to time. His work of itinerating had begun once more. It was good for his health, for he had no love of exercise, and though he sometimes worked in his shamba with sickle or hoe, he more often sat indoors dealing with the difficulties of his many visitors. He never took a walk for its own sake, and when, rarely, he permitted himself some recreation he read novels.
In Central Africa he published a diary of a walk through Zigualand and another of a visitation in the Ruvuma country; but they are only moderately interesting, as Frank hated writing about himself and was very careful about what concerned others.
Miss D. Y. Mills revisited Africa after twenty years and travelled with the Bishop from Lindi to Masasi in 1922, and from her notes I extract what follows.
The first stage of the journey is by boat--a three hours' row up the river. The boatmen intended to start at 5 P.M., but the Bishop ordered them to be ready by 2 P.M. The men were much annoyed, and sullen, scowling faces greeted us when we set out. But one by one the scowls vanished, the faces brightened, and in a quarter of an hour they were smiling, singing, or chattering to the Bishop. How it all happened I don't know. He did it, and it was a transformation scene.
The next stage of the journey was by trolley, and the Bishop sat in a chair at the back among the men and the luggage. It was just after the rains, and the forest was beautiful with young greens and many flowers, and we had glorious glimpses between the trees of blue hills in the distance. But we went slowly enough, and then a thunderstorm came on and drenched the long grass which had overgrown the road. Suddenly the trolley stopped. There was something wrong with the wheel. Various appliances were used, and there was much talking and hammering, but all of no avail. The Bishop sat quite still reading his papers. Half an hour passed, the day was drawing in: and, as we were camping out, our tents had to be pitched by sundown. Then the Bishop stood up, and, cheering up the hot and tired men, took a hand himself. Finally, putting his shoulder to the wheel in the most literal way, there was a grunt and a squeak and then we were off again once more.
We pitched our tents in an open, sandy space between palm trees and mangoes, and dined in the open by the light of a young moon. Then the Bishop wished us good-night, saying, 'Breakfast will be at 5 and we shall start at 5.30.' I did not think much of it, knowing the dilatory ways of porters, and was still in bed when the Bishop called, 'Are you ready, for we want to pack your tent?' One does not wear many clothes in Africa, and on a journey there is very little water to wash in, so I was soon dressed and found breakfast ready. All the tents but mine were packed, and the porters sat in a long row in front of their burdens while the bearers were waiting with the carrying chairs for Sister ------and myself. We were about ten minutes over our meal, but there was no hurry. Then the Bishop stood up and gave the word. Immediately, every man shouldered his burden and strode off singing. The Bishop showed me his watch. It was exactly 5.30. The precision, quiet, and order of it all was marvellous.
After another tour in July 1922, Frank wrote to the Bishop of Hereford:
I've just done a tour of my diocese--eighteen months--I've walked 1,000 miles since December 15 --not in a purple cassock like His Amplitude of ------, the dear man, but in khaki shorts, with a red shirt hanging down outside them--truly episcopal--in the somewhat late j##-apostolic manner! In the same six months I have had private or at least official interviews with over 700 persons, taken two retreats, and generally reconstructed a district spoiled by the War. Now we are, I hope, reconstructed as a diocese--but I'm very tired and feel several years older than when we met. Here, where I live, I'm near my Theological College, and when I'm not out on tour I am teaching moral theology to ordinands. We hope to make twelve deacons this year and four priests in February. I ordained three priests in May. Now you see the sort of job I have--I've also a charming Arab staying with me, who has now been six months a catechumen; and at Pentecost we baptised a Moslem teacher from Zanzibar. So we are getting on!
In 1923 and 1924 Archdeacon Mackay went more than one long journey with him. Here is an extract from his notes.
We had in 1923 a long tramp to Misozwe and Kizara, and on to Korogwe from there. It was very wet and we got soaked. After a night at Misozwe and another near Kizara, we spent one night at Kizara and the next at a small village at the bottom of the mountains. Frank said that I must go to bed, but he himself went out to talk to the local chief and did not return until 11 P.M., when he began saying his offices. None the less we were up at 5 and had a tremendous walk to Korogwe, arriving there at about 6 P.M. Frank had then to give an address, and next morning he had a big Confirmation before High Mass. He must often have had his big functions when he was terribly tired.
In 1924 he went a long prospecting tour from Masasi to Lumesule and thence to the borders of Nyasaland Diocese. He met with very heavy rains and came back in rags. His boots had given way, and he had had to take to old slippers, with the result that his feet were badly blistered. After resting for a few days he started again round the Masasi Archdeaconry, returning to take a retreat and ordination. Shortly afterwards he had a bad attack of influenza, and looked very ill when he reached Zanzibar during Holy Week, but he managed to get on to Tanga for Easter Day, and then returned to Hegongo, having promised his doctor in Zanzibar to take a month's holiday. He really enjoyed his rest, reading again most of Robert Louis Stevenson and making acquaintance with Conrad's novels--they fascinated him.
During these later journeys he loved to stay with African clergy and teachers. He stayed in their houses, ate their food, in African fashion, with his fingers out of a common dish. Each teacher's house has a little office or study attached to it, where he slept. He made himself at home in their families and found that he could adapt himself to their ways. Frank had become an African in Africa.
Many men who have lived long in the wilds with natives have deteriorated. This is not the fault of the natives, but their own. They have come to think that nothing matters, they have ceased to respect themselves, they miss the pressure of public opinion which had once kept them decent. No such ill-results followed from Frank's association with Africans. It was just because he was unselfish and very sensitive that he observed the manners of his native hosts just as punctiliously as he conformed to the manners of an English drawing-room. He was, you may say, a thorough conventionalist. You are right, but I should prefer to say he was a gentleman. After all, eccentricity in clothes, food, manners, and talk is a sign of self-assertiveness, or at least shows indifference to the feelings of others. Frank was always thinking of others rather than himself, and that is why he could become an African to Africans and remain a European among his own people. He never became in the least decivilised, and when he died the Administrative Officer at Tanga wrote:
I think the Bishop, to all laymen like myself who knew him fairly well, was the very impersonation of our race, at the highest to which it can attain.