This artocle focusses on the religious encounter between Portuguese missionaries and the African societies in Southern Africa. It is argued that the crusading mentality embedded in mediaeval Catltolicism and the terms of the Padruado underpinned and reinforced the views and attitudes that Portuguese missionrzries constructed around African religion and ritual. The perceptions that Christianity was superior to, and in no position to negotiate and dialogue with African religion, contributed significantly towards their failure to understand and to evangelise the societies they came in contact with. Moreover the failure to appreciate that traditional religion was a centrifugal force around which all life, not just kingship, gravitated, resulted in their disillusionment and immature abandonment of the mission field. This analysis is based on, and aided by, secondary sources zuritten on the Portuguese activities in Southern Africa.