The Conceptualisation of Africa in the Catholic Church

Comparing Historically the Thought of Daniele Comboni and Adalberto da Postioma

In: Social Sciences and Missions
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  • 1 Open University, Lisbon
  • | 2 CEI-ISCTE—University Institute of Lisbon
  • | 3 Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil, Recife
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This article aims to show the evolution of the conceptualisation of Africa according to the Catholic Church, using as its key references Daniele Comboni and Adalberto da Postioma, two Italian missionaries who lived in the 19th century and 20th century respectively. Through them, the article attempts to interpret how the Catholic Church has conceived and implemented its relationships with the African continent in the last two centuries. The article uses history to analyse the thought of the two authors using a qualitative and comparative methodology.


This article aims to show the evolution of the conceptualisation of Africa according to the Catholic Church, using as its key references Daniele Comboni and Adalberto da Postioma, two Italian missionaries who lived in the 19th century and 20th century respectively. Through them, the article attempts to interpret how the Catholic Church has conceived and implemented its relationships with the African continent in the last two centuries. The article uses history to analyse the thought of the two authors using a qualitative and comparative methodology.

This article aims to analyse how the Catholic Church dealt with the “African question”. This is made through the analysis of two symbolic figures who lived in different cultural, sociological and theological contexts, Daniele Comboni and Adalberto da Postioma. The article will reveal the transformations, resistances and continuities of Catholic missionary work in Africa in the last two centuries.

The analysis presented here is limited and determined by the two above-mentioned figures who represent the focus of this research. In chronological terms, it intends to consider the missionary activity of the Catholic Church in the 19th and 20th centuries. Geographically, the study privileges the areas in which Comboni and Postioma operated as missionaries: Central Africa and namely Sudan for Comboni and Angola for Postioma. The study presented here distinguishes between missionary theology (and philosophy, especially in the case of Postioma) and missionary practice, trying to point out the different perspectives of these two dimensions.

Comboni and Postioma are two figures who have similarities but also great differences: the similarities are in their dedication to discovering African culture and the need to evangelise African people. The differences are basically historical, due to the two different periods in which they lived, and their ideas about how to deal with Africa within the context of Catholic missionary work. Comboni belonged to a “fighting church”, in which to evangelise meant “to civilise” or “to Europeanise”, while Postioma was part of a heterogeneous strand which aimed to balance Christianity with traditional African beliefs, promoting a culture of evangelisation, but as part of a missionary work based on dialogue and respect for the different cultures.

The comparison of these two figures offers a way to understand the path that Catholic missionary thought followed for about one hundred years of its relationship with Africa and also to point out how the “Africanism” accepted by the Catholic Church encountered fluid but definite limits. Unlike Comboni, Postioma probably went beyond these limits, with the result that his work has remained marginalised until the present day.

This article attempts to answer a basic question: how did theology and missionary work evolve in Africa within the Catholic Church during the period which symbolically began with the work of Comboni and finished with the work of Postioma? As far as method is concerned, the main instrument for carrying out this work has been an analysis of written works, letters and interventions by each of the two authors considered here, accompanied by bibliographic research focused on the Catholic Church’s ideas about Africa. The text is composed of three sections. The first section focuses on the evolution of the conceptualisation and practice of Catholic missionary work, with particular emphasis on Africa; the second section deals with Comboni’s African thought; and the last section analyses Adalberto da Postioma’s African thought. The conclusion discusses the main issues raised throughout the study.

1 Evolution of the Catholic Approach to Evangelisation and Missionary Work in Africa

Over the two centuries in which the works of Comboni and Postioma were written, the focal points which characterised the relationship between the Catholic Church and the secular world were the affirmation of liberalism during the first stage and the affirmation of totalitarian regimes during the second, passing through the colonisation and decolonisation of Africa. Respected authors have emphasised the importance of the political and cultural context of the period in relation to the missionary work carried out by the Church.1

According to the historian Gadille, it is possible to identify four main periods in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Africa. The first, between 1820 and 1880, is characterised as the “time of creative effervescence”2 for Catholicism. The “creative effervescence” of which Gadille speaks occurred, among others, in the diocese of Lyon with the foundation, by a group of lay people led by Pauline Jaricot, of the Œuvre de la Propagation de la Foi (1822), whose main goal was to “spread the Gospel around the world”, bringing together lay and religious men (Essertel, 2001: 27). Propagation de la Foi was not the only institution to be founded in this period. Father Lavigerie (Archbishop of Alger) founded the Société des Missionnires d’ Afrique (a.k.a. les Pères Blancs, or “White Fathers”) in 1868 and, in 1869, the Sœurs agricoles hospitalières, which very soon assumed the denomination of Sœurs Missionaires de Notre Dame d’ Afrique (a.k.a. Sœurs Blanches).3

France, with its ‘Berulian school’,4 was the epicentre of this wave of spirituality, as the experience of Father Francisco Libermann confirms (Coulon & Brasseur, 1988). Italy was also affected by this wave of new missionary spirituality. Figures such as the Piedmontese Capuchin Guglielmo Massaia, Giustino de Jacobis of the Congregation of Missions, the Neapolitan Ludovico de Casoria, Nicolò Olivieri of the Pia Opera del Riscatto (which aimed to redeem “Moorish Girls”) all, directly or indirectly, joined the debate on missionary work in Africa, greatly influencing Comboni’s spiritual and religious education. Specifically, a letter from De Liguori about the Christian martyrs in Japan (which accurately described the ecclesiastic climate in the 19th century) seems to have made a particularly important impact on the young Comboni.5

At the Vatican side, after the short pontificate of Pious VIII, the first part of the first period identified by Gadille is marked by Gregory XVI. A moderate from a political and social point of view (the Mirari Vos encyclical condemns the Catholic liberalism formulated by Lamennais), he gave a great boost to missionary action. He concentrated his work on the opening of new missions in England, North America, as well as in Australia and Africa, and he condemned the slave system, classifying it as a trade in human flesh.6 As stated by the Italian Cardinal Costantini:

The missionary idea broadly penetrated into Catholic consciousness and the entire holy blossoming of works for missionary cooperation germinated by the Propagation of the Faith, the Work of the Holy Childhood, the foundation of new missionary institutes.7

Due to the historical legacy of a church connected to the occupation of Africa and the slave trade, many African peoples considered Islam to be their main religious reference. Cultural factors, such as the role of women and the acceptance of polygamy, also contributed to the spreading of Islam, especially in West Africa.8 However, between 1820 and 1880, the Church took different stances regarding this phenomenon, sometimes ambiguously. Pious IX, Gregory XVI’s successor, in his Instructio 1293 (1866), accepted de facto slavery and the buying and selling of slaves. He also preferred to support the South against the North in the American Civil War. As Cardinal Antonelli said as he attempted to explain it to Rufus King, the American representative in Rome, in 1864, the Church was against slavery but was highly concerned about suddenly freeing some millions of slaves who would encounter enormous difficulties integrating in the social and economic life of their various countries as free human beings.9

A common, traditional position defined the approach to the national question in Africa. While Gregory XVI approved the occupation of Poland by the Tsar’s troops, Pius IX, with his Syllabus (1862), condemned rationalism and absolute nationalism, both products he argued of an anti-Christian modernity.10

At the end of this period, and especially starting in the 1870s, the Church felt in risk. In 1871 Rome fell into the hands of the new Italian state, and the Church definitively and violently lost its political power. This caused a breakdown in its relations with Italy.

The second and third periods extended from 1880 to 1914 and from 1915 until the end of the Second World War respectively. Pius IX’s successor, Leo XIII, wrote in his encyclical In Plurimis (1888) what came to be seen as the definitive word of the Church in relation to the institution of slavery, with particular attention to Brazil where slavery continued to be practiced. Recovering the position Gregory XVI had taken in 1839 in his In Supremo Apostolatus Fastigio, Leo XIII wholly and unambiguously condemned slavery.11

This long and difficult path to condemning slavery did not help the Catholic Church to build a good image of itself in Africa and this affected its missionary work on the continent. Alphonse Quenum, a close observer of the African context in the 19th century, wrote: “West Africa has been in contact with Christianity for three hundred years, and no one single tribe, as a tribe, has become Christian.”12 According to Blyden, the great failure of Christianity, and the even greater failure of Catholicism, in West Africa was due to the fact that: “The African mind is regarded as a great blank, or worse than a blank, filled with everything dark and horrible and repulsive”.13 A contemporary historian confirms Blyden’s analysis: “Until the 20th century the only links between European countries and black peoples of the African continent consisted, for the most part, in the slave trade.”14

The new Catholic approach led to more success in missionary work in Africa. According to the Holy See, the number of its baptized passed from 7 million in 1914 to about 15 million in 1938.15 The 1930s, according to Gadille, were decisive for establishing a different kind of evangelisation of Africa by the Catholic Church. Although there still was no new missionary paradigm, several models were emerging. Pope Benedict XV (1914–1922) had given a boost to the missionary component of the Church, starting with his encyclical Maximum illud (1919). A ‘Missionary Union’ of the Clergy had to be constituted in all dioceses, he recommended.16 According to his successor, Pius XI, the Church had to spread the word of Christ among the believers. It meant that native-born people had to enter the clergy, creating missions and seminaries able to receive local youth.17 This approach encouraged a pure missionary activity. The missionary “does not come first to civilize, but to evangelize.”18 Some initial forms of interreligious dialogue began to be adopted by Catholic figures, as in the case of Jules Monchanin, a pioneer for dialogue between Christians and Hindus.

The fourth period identified by Gadille runs from 1945 until the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. During this phase, ideas about missionary work underwent a significant transformation: they shifted from “territorial” to “ecclesial.”19 A new issue also emerged: the cultural identity of the peoples who had yet to be evangelised. Before the Second Vatican Council, various tendencies inside the Catholic Church propounded meaningful innovations in some fundamental ideas,20 promoting dialogue with other religions, especially with Protestant institutions and the Eastern Orthodox Church, and supporting “border experiences,” like those of the worker-priest movement in France (which was not approved by Pius XII).21

The Second Vatican Council represented a turning-point not only for the Catholic Church as a whole, but specifically for the “African question” too. The fundamental document is Nostra Aetate, commissioned by John XXIII and concluded by his successor, Paul VI.22 It seems that the Pope first had the idea of proposing the approval of a Declaration on the Jews.23 Since it could not be included in the ecumenical field, he decided to prepare an autonomous declaration, including all the other religious faiths. The central idea was that all the non-Christian faiths, despite their lack of illumination through the “Revelation” of Jesus, had aspects that were not only positive but actually “divine”. As Cardinal Arinze remembers “Most lay European and Catholic universities had a modest knowledge of African culture, and the Church had only one Catholic African university, in Kinshasa.”24 It was necessary to nourish such knowledge, as Pius XII had already expressed in an important encyclical in 1951, which had no appreciable effects.25

In 1965, the Vatican approved a decree on missionary work (Ad Gentes). It intended to clarify the main elements, and tasks, of evangelisation in non-European countries. The historian Guido Verucci thinks that it represented a significant effort to “overcome the Eurocentric and Western conception of missions” – even if this attempt would eventually not be wholly successful.26 While it may be true that all the components of the Catholic Church are and have to be missionary, missionary activity came, in turn, to be necessarily seen as an “adaptation” to local cultures rather than a radical re-definition of Catholicism. Hence a new stage began where missionaries tried to put into practice the suggestions and ideas formulated by the Second Vatican Council.

Consistent with this perspective, Paul VI published a document – Africae Terrarum – in 1967, specifically focusing on some African issues. The document presented an argument subdivided into three parts, following a framework in which the Pope intended to assign value to the local traditions of Africa. Probably for the first time in a document so meaningful for Catholicism, he emphasised the traditional African values that could and should be the object of study and dialogue. His main goal was to improve the evangelical work which the Church still aimed to carry out: the “spiritual vision of life”, the idea of God, respect for human dignity, a sense of family and the primary role of the father within it, and the value of community life.27 All these values, the Pope concluded, should be defended, as they had to move towards the wave of modernisation which Africa was undergoing and within which Christianity had to express its point of view. There is no doubt that Postioma gathered inspiration from these principles to become one of its foremost proponents.

The 1970s saw the debate between traditionalist clergy and the followers of the Second Vatican Council and their new visions. The “traditionalists” had the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis by Pius X (1907) as their base and Cardinal Marcel Lefebvre as their leader.28 In the 1980s, in Greenland, Guy Mary-Rousselière, for example, continued to declare himself proudly against an “endogenization” of the Catholic liturgy with the traditional culture of the Eskimos,29 writing a famous article against “inter-culture”.30 Two tendencies had crystallised within the Catholic Church in relation to missionary work in Africa after Vatican II. On one hand, there were those who (like Lefebvre) continued to defend the need to maintain the fighting spirit of the Church in order to limit the spread of Islam and traditional and local religions. On the other hand, there were those who defended – especially in Latin America (see the two Bishops’ Conferences in Medellin, in 1968, and in Puebla in 1979) – “a new concept of church and Christian community, based on the centrality of the Gospel” which had, as its natural consequence, a “liberating mission”, strongly related to local cultures.31

It is possible today to propose adding a fifth period to the chronological subdivisions elaborated by Gadille. It is a quite controversial period, in which the Catholic Church in Africa faced great social and cultural challenges, including competition from Islam and the new Evangelical churches, especially from Brazil. A first, meaningful step for the post-conciliar Church was the Synod for Africa which took place in 1994 but had been in preparation since 1989. It was probably the most influential Synod meeting in the Church’s recent history.32 The Church then held a second Synod in 2009, as desired by Pope Benedict XVI, and it took its inspiration from the conclusions of the first Synod of 1989, found in Ecclesia in Africa (1995). The Instrumentum laboris, elaborated by Benedict XVI for the Second Synod, represents a particularly significant document about Africa. In it, Benedict XVI recalled the importance of Africa for the Church and for humanity as a whole. He advanced that, to avoid making the continent a permanent commodity, one needs to place it at the centre of attention of those who have responsibilities, starting with the ruling classes. Benedict XVI also speaks against the Europeans who do not assign any relevance to the continent, and against the Africans who became corrupt and forgot the real needs of their peoples. Africa entered the history of Christianity in Jesus’ infancy, he declared. Centring his attention on Sub-Saharan Africa, Benedict XVI gathered his inspiration from Paul VI, remembering some of the basic principles of African culture and religion, such as “the great thirst for God”,33 corroborated, in his opinion, by the fact that only 1–2 % of the total number of atheists in the world live in Africa.34 He concluded: reconciliation has to be the avenue which drives the continent’s future and, with it, forgiveness.

2 The African Question in Comboni’s Thought

Born in Limone sul Garda (Italy) in 1831, Comboni was ordained as a priest in 1854 and left for Africa for the first time, with five colleagues, in 1857. After nine years on the continent, he published a Plan for the Regeneration of Africa in the Messager du Cœur de Jésus, based on the shibboleth “Regenerating Africa with Africa”. It was a short but meaningful text, whose main goal was to draw the attention of the Church to the African question and the missionary question. At the First Vatican Council convened by Pope Pius IX in 1869, Comboni proposed a “Postulate” which was never discussed, because of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and the consequent suspension of the Council sine die. This Postulate, whose title was Postulatum pro Nigris Africae Centralis, was a form of declaration to induce the Church to make a serious commitment towards missionary work in Africa. In 1872, Comboni was then named Vicar of all Central Africa and Pro-Vicar Apostolic, the most important Catholic authority in the region. Between his missionary work and his writings (not very numerous, but extremely important), he became one of the most influential Catholic figures of his time in relation to Africa. He died in Khartoum in 1881 and was canonised in 2003 by Pope John Paul II.

Comboni’s work needs to be framed within the general context of the actions of a Catholic Church highly concerned with overcoming slavery. As seen above, the Church’s approach to slavery had not been linear. In the 1870s and 1880s, part of the Catholic milieu was influenced by the development of scientific racism and eugenics, which argued that the creation of man by God had followed a “dual” avenue: one for the whites (Adam), and another for the blacks (the “curse of Ham”).35

These tendencies exerted an indirect influence on Comboni’s thought and the way in which he imagined his approach to the African question. His closest references were missionaries such as Don Nicola Mazza, and Cardinal Barnabò. Nicola Mazza, also called “Don Congo”, founded two important institutes in Verona, the first one for females (1828), the second one for males (1833), with the objective of helping disadvantaged people. Starting from 1847, his pupils (among them, Daniele Comboni) began intense missionary activity. Comboni thereafter took on Don Mazza’s passion for the redemption of Africans. Cardinal Alessandro Barnabò, for his part, was a very influential prelate in the Vatican. He was elevated to Cardinal in 1856 and served as Prefect of the Congregation of the Propaganda Fide until 1874. From his powerful position, he supported all of Comboni’s efforts to implement his Plan for the Regeneration of Africa. Comboni maintained a (not very frequent but very useful) correspondence with Lavigerie, among others, which focused on resolving practical issues which the Italian missionary, like the French Bishop, had to face in his daily work. Charles Lavigerie (1825–1892) was the French archbishop of Carthage and Algiers and primate of Africa. He founded the order of priests of the White Fathers, having struggled against the slave trade in the latterpart of his life. On 2 November 1871, Comboni asked Lavigerie to help him organise the local Arab peasants and draft regulations, since Lavigerie had constituted a Société des Frères Agriculteurs which Comboni used to write the regulations of his missions.36 Comboni needed – he wrote in a letter directed to Lavigerie – “six or seven of these good converts (…) able to teach Africans their arts and crafts”37 For Comboni, Lavigerie’s work represented a reference point for the missions in Africa. Nevertheless, it was Comboni who strongly influenced Lavigerie regarding the struggle against slavery, as has been well documented.38

Comboni took inspiration for his Africanist thought and missionary practice from the great missionary élan of the historical period in which he lived. He tried to merge elements that were in a certain sense discordant, such as ethnocentric influences, the idea of evangelisation as a struggle against the infidels, and the will to contribute to the spiritual and material improvement of the Nigrizia. Although Comboni often used the term Nigrizia, he did not define this concept. Nigrizia was a term with a Latin root (Nigritia), which meant “the country of Black People”, largely used in the 18th and 19th centuries. So, Comboni adopted this word in a broader meaning to indicate the complexity of Africa and Africans, their habits and practices, their suffering and values. Starting with these considerations, Comboni was concerned with human misery which, he thought, characterised “my dear Nigrizia”.39

His approach in relation to Nigrizia was ambivalent: he admitted that “the work to regenerate Nigrizia is a very difficult and highly urgent task” and “it is necessary to liberate these poor blacks from the darkness of paganism”.40 This said, Nigrizia also had, at times, another, more neutral meaning: it designated the area in which Comboni worked until the end of his life (“Moriamur pro Nigritia”).

2.1 Comboni’s Thought about Africa: an Introduction

The key reference for Comboni’s conceptualisation of Africa is his Plan for the Regeneration of Africa written in 1864 and published in 1871. The plan advanced three fundamental presuppositions:

  1. Africa represents about 1/10 of the world’s whole population, but it continues to be “shrouded in darkness, subjected to death and the cruel dominion of the demon”. Thus, “these unfortunate peoples of Africa, excluded from the benefit of redemption”, deserve a different destiny.41 Fetishism and Islam are the two major enemies which the Church has to fight on the ground.

  2. According to this idea, Africa needs to be “civilised” and Christianised, making use of the local forces. Hence the expression: “Saving Africa with Africa”.

  3. Finally, in this attempt to civilise, Catholicism must help Africans to improve not only their spiritual state, but also their material condition by fighting slavery and boosting forms of education and instruction which are adequate to the local social and cultural environment.

In his Plan to Save Africa, Comboni asked for money and support from the most powerful Catholic organisations of the Old Continent, including the Society of Colonia, and from powerful institutions and individuals, such as the King of Belgium. Comboni stated that “if the powers want to obtain any results, they will have no other chance than to sustain our missions with their assistance”.42 Comboni’s ultimate goal was to civilise the “infidel peoples”43 and, in his view, only the Catholic Church could do this.

2.2 Comboni’s Views about Non-Christian Religions

The context in which Comboni operated influenced his conception of African people and his ideas of non-Catholic religions. In Central Africa, namely in Sudan, where he spent many years, Islam was the first religion. The process of Islamization of local African people had occurred between the 8th and the 16th century, and the level of integration of Muslim and traditional religion and habits was extremely high. So, the challenge for the Catholic Church was enormous. Nevertheless, the first approach to Islam for Comboni and his colleagues occurred in Egypt, considered by the Holy See as the only possible entry door to Southern Africa. Mohammed Ali, the leader of Egypt, clarified to Comboni that the Catholic missionaries could work with European and pagan people, but not with Islamized believers.44 Comboni’s knowledge of Islam was probably very poor before his travel to Egypt and Sudan. It seems correct to state that he understood immediately the power that this religion had in Africa, beginning to consider it as the actual enemy to face. For this reason, he defined this country as hosting a “Muslim and fanatical” population whose treatment of African slaves was “barbarian”. Thus, Islam is represented in a very negative, almost caricatured way. He writes:

The strict followers of the Koran, the fanatical worshipers of Mohammed, condemn any speech about religion and declare a saint anyone who gets carried away by the white horse on which the High Priest goes toward the mosque, at the time of the great pilgrimage to Mecca; holy is anyone who, after continuous religious acclamation to Mohammed, becomes sick or mad (…) In this sense, Nubia offers a sad spectacle.45

His disdain for the Muslims ran parallel to the difficulties Catholic and Protestant missions faced to convert them. “It is impossible”, Comboni wrote, “to cause them to dismiss the Koran, which they observe fanatically and thoroughly”, particularly because the Catholic religion requires people “to renounce themselves, and requires mortification of the flesh and sacrifice”. It is easier, he explained, to stay in the comfort of Islam than to adhere to a demanding, rigorous religion, which forces Islamic believers to leave behind their “very unfortunate moral status, due to corruption allowed by the laws”, more specifically the “infamous law of the Koran”.46 The fact that his first approach to Islam took place in Egypt influenced his view of this religion as a risk, which had to be fought through intense and aggressive missionary activity.

The kind of “militant” and “military” system proposed by Comboni was not atypical of the period, but it was also quite different from the approach of Protestants such as Bishop Samuel A. Crowther (a missionary in West Africa between the 1840s and 1880s) who advocated and, practised a “peaceful” way of coexisting with Islam.47

2.3 Comboni’s Concept of Africa

How did Comboni define Africa? Once more, his direct experience on the field influenced his conception of Africa and the Africans. Since his main objective was to overcome Islam and to evangelize the Africans, his concept of African civilization was not very complex or coherent. He always favoured the aspect of missionary practice, in detriment to that of theology and philosophy. He proposed several definitions, but the one he seemed to use most was: “Africa can be defined (…) as the black race invaded or threatened by the invasion of Islam”,48 “bent under the yoke of fetishism”.49

In his view there were two enemies in Africa: Islam and “fetishism”, i.e. pagan beliefs and practices. For Comboni, it was easier to deal with the latter than with the former. Comboni had a very limited understanding of crucial aspects of African social organisation. For instance, he analysed the subdivision of tribes and clans in the majority of “pagan” cultures from the point of view of conversion rather than understanding.50

Which historical reasons were there for the Africans (usually called “blacks”, “Ethiopians” or “Nigrizia”) to be in the inferior position they found themselves in at that stage? Western civilisation had its responsibilities, argued Comboni, first, because of the infamous slave trade which he condemned resolutely and without any exception. Many people, including “Christians of good nature” considered “the wretched blacks not as men, as beings endowed with reason, but as objects from which they intend to obtain a profit. Here, the black man as a rational being does not have any value.”51

Comboni not only considered this conceptualisation to be false, but also against the dictates of the Catholic evangelisation which demanded that “all human beings, white and black, are equal before God and have the right to the blessings of faith and the acquisition of European Christian civilisation”.52 In this sense, Comboni expressed a pioneering position compared to those in power at that time, who saw the Africans as creatures midway between man and animal. However, Comboni did not conclude that Africans had the right to express their culture, beliefs, and practices freely. Comboni’s argument about the universal dignity of all human beings was embedded in theological rather than ontological considerations. Human beings were all sons of God, for this reason they were equal in nature; nevertheless, the history of humanity had determined a great differentiation of cultures and habits, which caused a sort of separation between civilized and uncivilized. The Catholic Church had the duty – through evangelization – to help African peoples (the “uncivilized”) to reach the condition of a full humanity.

The Italian missionary attributed stereotypical characteristics to the Africans. The main obstacle for the propagation of the Catholic religion among them would be their “natural apathy and indolence”, he argued. These two features made it difficult not only to adhere to Christianity, but also to learn the practical arts, such as making or mending clothes, since the Africans “in some places walk half naked”. His conclusion was the following: “These unfortunate beings know no other industry but to forge iron”. Comboni felt compassion for the Africans however: of all the peoples, the Africans were “absolutely deprived of luck”.53 The evangelisation work, which encountered its greatest obstacles in the propagation of Islam, paganism and the Africans’ other immoral practices, also bore European responsibilities, namely the “atrocities of Catholic nations throughout the last century”.54 These negative factors led Comboni to think of a general plan for the regeneration of the continent as a whole, valid for all Africans.

2.4 How to Evangelise Africa: the Regeneration Plan

The Regeneration Plan had, as its subtitle, “The Regeneration of Africa with Africa”.55 Considering Comboni’s reflections on African civilisation, such an affirmation might sound inconsistent. For instance, Comboni asked rhetorically how could such a passive, ignorant population, deprived of any intellectual or practical curiosity, enslaved for centuries by the Europeans, rise up and lead its own regeneration?

The text, which he directed towards the upper echelons of the clergy, is built around two great metaphors: the first has to do with the contrast of light and shade. Africa continued to live in the obscurity of darkness, and only the light of Christianity would be able to illuminate it. The expressions used by Comboni leave no room for doubt: “mysterious darkness”, “remote district”, “dense veil”. The second gave nature an anthropological meaning. Nature was bad in Africa, since it put up “insurmountable” barriers that separated this “inhospitable soil” from the rest of the planet. The efforts made regarding transport in Africa were “a spark of that civilisation prized by so much of modern society”, but it failed even in productive and commercial terms.56

In this unfortunate land, the first missionaries met human beings who were sons of the same God: Comboni once again pointed to the concept of a single humankind that includes Africans. But at the time they were “bent and wailing under the yoke of Satan”;57 only the generosity and impetus of Christian charity would be able to free the Africans from the anathema of Canaan which still surrounded them. Missionary work in Africa would therefore be “to cultivate the banner of the cross among these peoples brutalised in the most abominating and dejected fetishism”.58

The same goal had been pursued by the first missionaries, with very modest results. Why, Comboni asked himself, had such negative outcomes been obtained? At this point, the Italian missionary began to draft his actual proposal in organisational terms. He used military language: it would be useless to think about converting the Africans without any kind of organisation. It was necessary to view apostolic work as a “fierce fortress”, preparing the troops (in this case Catholic troops) in accordance with the “tactic of a blockade”59 rather than an attack. This meant discovering the strong and weak points of the “enemy” without believing that it could be conquered quickly and definitively. This is the great difference between the proposal formulated by Comboni and the entire history of previous Catholic missionary work in Africa: generosity had to be accompanied by organisation, the rational use of forces and studies of tactics.

How would this proposal actually be put into action? Comboni attributed great importance to the need not to dissipate forces: this meant having ‘a safe centre’. This centre would have to control and help peripheral missions, providing new missionaries when their numbers decreased because of the frequent deaths and diseases. And, even more importantly, the centre would have to be established in Africa. The proposal of organisation that allowed for partial African autonomy, in the Catholic field, started with a supposedly objective finding: the distance and incompatibility between European and African civilisations, whose habits were almost irreconcilable. Any effort to train an African clergy in Europe would be in vain, it was thought: it was necessary “to promote the conversion of Africa with Africa”, which would be the only way to “keep such a luminous promise”.60 The type of instruction to be provided in Africa would be basic, in terms of theological and scientific disciplines; practical courses would be introduced to overcome what Comboni considered as the Africans’ natural laziness. Comboni also pointed out that a lot of caution would be needed before proceeding to the ordination of the Africans as priests: their ‘fickleness’ and ‘weakness’ would need treatment of the greatest severity and rigour, starting with the condition of an “irreprehensible celibacy”. After a mission led by an indigenous person had been installed, Comboni recommended “frequent apostolic visits”, partly to face up to the possible threat of a return of Islam in Central Africa.

2.5 Comboni’s “Plan” and the Catholic Church

How were Comboni’s ideas received by the upper ranks of the clergy? How was the “regenerating” action for the African continent which he intended to carry out interpreted by his superiors when he published his “Plan” in the Le Messager du Coeur de Jésus in 1866 and, the following year, founded the congregation Opera del Buon Pastore per la Rigenerazione della Nigrizia?

Resistance within the Catholic Church in relation to the ‘African question’ remained evident. At the First Vatican Council, convened by Pope Pious IX in 1869, Comboni proposed a “Postulate” that gathered enough signatures (70) to be discussed at the plenary of the Council and gained the support of Pius IX and Cardinal Barnabò. Despite the suspension of the Council sine die for political reasons, Comboni was able to gain support for his project in 1871, thanks to the powerful Society of Colonia. One of the reasons of this success is to be found in the way Comboni presented the ‘African question’ to the European Catholic community. As a man of his times, Comboni had and expressed a very superficial idea of Africans, without distinguishing between the different regions, ethnic and linguistic groups, in the name of a common effort and challenge: to civilize and to evangelize these poor and exploited peoples. Before this call to arms a great number of the Catholics of Europe supported Comboni. The Pope was to name him as a Vicar of Central Africa in 1872 and Pro-Vicar Apostolic, the highest Catholic authority in the region.

Comboni’s influence within the Catholic Church in relation to African issues increased rapidly and became long lasting: he is sometimes considered a ‘revolutionary’ or ‘visionary’ though he never entered into discord with the senior clergy. He was able to persuade some of the most powerful Catholic lobbies to stay by his side. His greatest success is probably demonstrated by the fact that the Comboni missionaries are today one of the most important Institutes in the Catholic Church, especially in the field of missionary work. Their journal, Nigrizia, has acquired international prestige and is recognised even outside the Catholic world. From the second-half of the 20th Century, Comboni became a reference, model and inspiration for Catholic missionary work in Africa.

After having analysed Comboni’s work, it is appropriate to deal with another author: Alberto da Postioma. He is not as famous as Comboni, but he shared with him an interest in Africa. The historical, religious and political context in which Postioma lived was completely different from Comboni’s context. Two world wars, the process of decolonization, the Second Vatican Council marked a new era and influenced the conception of Postioma about Africa.

3 Adalberto da Postioma’s Thinking about Africa

Adalberto da Postioma, born in Paese (Treviso) on 12 April 1927, was a missionary of the Capuchin Order. He studied the various aspects of social, philosophical and religious African situations. After obtaining a Doctorate in Theology at the Pontificia Università Gregoriana of Rome in 1956, he published his first book, La conoscenza di Dio in P. Giovanni Zamoro da Udine [The knowledge of God in Father Giovanni Zamorano from Udine]. He published many books subsequently, the main ones being Filosofia Africana [African philosophy] and Cristianesimo africano [African Christianity]. After joining the Capuchin Order, in 1954, he became a missionary in several African and non-African countries. He served as a missionary in Angola, Cape Verde, Zambia and Brazil; in Angola he served as a Professor of Philosophy at the Seminary of Luanda from 1961 to 1968.

Despite his vast bibliographic production, Africanist critics and Catholic observers have paid little attention to Postioma’s work. Severino Ngoenha wrote the following: “Fortuitously, the “African-Lusophone” philosophy is bound in some way to Italy. The first ones who introduced an African philosophical discourse in Mozambique and Angola, were in fact the Italian missionaries Igino Tubaldo and Adalberto da Postioma”.61 Adalberto da Postioma is part of a wide and diversified current of missionaries and thinkers who defended, in the years immediately after the Second Vatican Council, an evangelization of the African populations as compatible with their traditional values, respecting their cultural differences and their philosophical wealth, distinct from those in the West.

In the first stages of his missionary thought, Adalberto da Postioma followed the official line of the Capuchin missionaries, as explained by Gomes D’Oliveira. He stated that, since the Church is universal, it is impossible to speak of continental subdivisions. Instead, he promoted the idea of a “demanding” Christianity founded on a grace that overcomes differences in colour and culture.62 In his first reflections, expressed mainly in the Capuchin journal Portugal em África during the 1960s, Postioma tried to defend the Capuchins’ missionary work in Africa while raising some doubts. These doubts remained unanswered at this initial stage and only in his later works were they addressed, through the concept of “contextualised thought and evangelisation”. Postioma underlined how one of the greatest difficulties in evangelising Africans was the lack of abstract concepts in local languages, concluding that “these people only believe in material things”.63

His main questions, in this first period of the 1960s, were the following: what should be done if, during baptism, someone did not understand the meaning of the sacrament? Propaganda Fide suggested proceeding with baptism, as if the baptised person were a child. And what about the “sons of sin”, that is, children born from polygamist marriages? Propaganda Fide suggested that they be baptised too, since the children could not be responsible for the sin of their parents. Was it possible to accept someone who did not know Christ as a godparent? The answer was yes in this case, too, if there was no other option.

Finally, Postioma questioned himself about the failure of the Catholic mission in Congo. Should the Capuchins be blamed for it? The answer he gave was negative, pointing out the enormous difficulties encountered by the missionaries on the ground. They followed the instructions of the Propaganda Fide, and carried out a consistent, thorough evangelisation. The problem, according to the author, laid in the hostile environment they encountered (“full of immorality”) which forced the missionaries “to destroy idols and sites of actual corruption, called ‘kimpaso’, risking their own lives”.64 All the doubts in Postioma’s thought (along with his deepest concerns) were most clearly expressed in a passage he included, written by Abbé Nioka (which the Italian missionary analysed, giving different answers, in his later works) which wondered what Christianity was for, if it was not an “imported, foreign religion”.65

Faced with such criticisms, Postioma put forward a counter-question: “Could the foreign missionaries do things differently? It is possible to raise some doubts. Perhaps they could have been aware of the ambiguous situation in which the Africans were living”.66 In his conclusions, Postioma “absolved” his colleagues from the accusations made about the ineffectiveness of their actions in Africa.67 With these doubts in mind, Postioma entered in contact with some of the most advanced Catholic thinkers. In 1967 Postioma participated in an article for a collective book edited by Francesco Tinello, with a contribution by Italo Mancini.68 Mancini was one of the most prominent proponents of the dialogue between philosophy and theology, belonging to the Catholic democratic tendency.69 Although Postioma never mentioned it, it is probable that his reflection was influenced by currents of thought inside the Catholic Church which found their full recognition in the Vatican Council II, helping him to formulate his idea of a ‘contextualized evangelization’.

3.1 ‘Contextualised Evangelisation’

Maturity, time spent in Angola, the reflections of the Second Vatican Council, all contributed to Postioma’s change in attitude towards the ‘African question’. This led to his formulation of “contextualised evangelisation” as the most adequate form of bringing these two cultural worlds together, which in Comboni’s thought had remained separate. Once his youthful doubts had been resolved, the ancient missionary rationale was overcome. In the evangelisation process, he argued, the foundations have to be categories of a thought and ethics that are typically African. This required deep work, he advanced: the goal is not for “Africans to adhere uncritically to Christianity”,70 but to incorporate the religion as the last step of their spiritual path, without rejecting anything from their traditional cultures.

Postioma believed that, in order to understand African thought, it was necessary to first seek to understand all religious phenomena, since all African life was influenced by religious aspects. This was a considerable step, compared to Comboni’s views. This idea became the basis of Postioma’s thought: it can be summarised by the expression ‘contextualised evangelisation’. In order to better explain his philosophical approach, the following analysis will be subdivided according to the main fields of research on which Postioma focused: theology and ontology, and then anthropology, ethics, sociology and politics. There is a history linked to this theology which became mainstream in the 1960s, and it starts with Father Pierre Charles in the 1940s and with father Placide Tempels who initiated heated debates which lasted well into the 1950s.71

3.2 Christian and African Principles in “Contextualised Evangelisation”

Unlike Comboni, Postioma did not tackle the issue of the relationship between Catholicism and other religions, including Islam. His interest almost exclusively focused on the compatibility of Christianity with African principles. His goal was not “to conquer” believers in a relentless fight against Islam but to favour a deep penetration of his religion inside Africans’ souls, adopting an approach in which understanding has to proceed alongside evangelisation. This is the most intimate meaning of “contextualised evangelisation”: it involves contact and mutual understanding between two cultures and two religious beliefs, starting with the conviction that Christianity does not need to be imposed, since it represents a natural consequence of the great religiosity of African people. This attempt carries with it an innovative proposal, despite some contradictions, which will be explained below.

Where did Postioma see possible points of contact between Christianity and African culture? First of all, in theology. While it is true that Christianity – for instance through the iconography of the Lord’s Prayer – proposes images consistent with African beliefs in Divine Providence, there are significant difficulties, such as when Postioma sought to explain the problem of evil. For Africans, the experience of evil originated from a threat. And for this reason, Africans tried to live in harmony with all human beings, visible and invisible. However, the idea of threat contradicts the goal of evangelism, since Christian lessons attest the triumph of Jesus Christ over all kinds of evil. To be threatened means to deny the work of the redemption of Christ. Here, Postioma had to deal with an almost irreducible contradiction – one which he minimised, rather than emphasised – regarding the process of compatibility with African thought, which he argued was positive and original.

Postioma identified great potential for dialogue in the same idea of God and the concept of “vital force”. Postioma argued that Africans were the most religious peoples in their hearts, differing notably from the representation which Comboni had given of them. The Africans had to carry on practising their rituals, focused on this concept of vital force, because this was “the object of all the invocations of God, the spirits, the dead, and all magical remedies”. He wrote: “[…] When missionaries recommended that blacks stop magical practices, they got the answer: But what’s the problem with following these practices?”72 African ontology is thus in harmony with Christian ontology, since it exalts life in all its forms: the fact that life has an absolute value makes the two cultural horizons highly compatible.

Postioma concluded that traditional African theology was compatible with Christian theology. It required some changes in attitude because the Africans could not accept the dictates which constitute the base of Christianity either formally or deeply, and they used and transformed their own ceremonies and symbols. This is the most appropriate meaning of ‘contextualised evangelisation’. Christianity does not only represent an abstract theology, since it leads to principles and practical behavioural lessons (ethics) while African religions have the same characteristics.

The first ethical principle common to the two conceptualisations is the respect assigned to the human being. Both conceive of humans as the only living beings that have dignity, who think, feel, have will, are intelligent, and this makes them beings superior to the other animate and inanimate beings. These metaphysical human elements are located in the muxima (heart). Muxima is a term of the Angolan language Kimbundo deriving from the small city of Muxima, located in the centre of Bengo Province, near Kwanza River.73 Due to its privileged geographical position, the term acquired a philosophical meaning: it is the small king, who governs man’s entire life. Muxima has to be identified with the individual personality of a person. A person’s name is the element which attests to and publicly certifies the existence of a person.74

Communicational components play a fundamental role. However, communication does not end with the word for Africans. For instance, dance reflects the verve of life: to dance means to live. The author remembered that “as the heart beats (dances) to express life, so dance testifies and reflects the existence and force of life”.75 The main limit of these ethics – according to Postioma – lay in the lack of faith in the love of Christ, which could be overcome only through catechetical teachings.

Ethical principles represent the base of social life, the foundation of which is the family (the smallest form of society), followed by the clan and then the tribe or society. These societies establish intense interactive relationships, and this favours the emergence of brotherhood. Social unity is cemented through the concept of ubumwe, that is, the vital union between living and deceased beings. Ubumwe is a word of Kirundi idiom, spoken especially in Burundi and in some parts of Tanzania and Congo. It points out the importance of union to create two kinds of solidarity: vertical and horizontal.76 According to Postioma, the concept of ubumwe was consistent with the union between Christ and his church, which would become the new clan. Postioma showed that, in African culture, the woman occupied a role in the foreground, as the person who guaranteed continuity of the clan and the human species. However, Postioma perceived that the African notion of fecundity was anthropocentric: such a vision had to be overcome, since fecundity is something which comes from God. A critical point that Postioma discussed is polygamy, frequent in Africa. In some of his affirmations, the author revealed a certain tolerance towards this practice, clashing with the magisterium of the Church.77

What were his ideas regarding compatibility between Christian principles and politics in Africa? They can be summarised by the expression “African socialism”. As he explained: “In Europe only the capitalists have benefited from the fruits of capital, sacrificing the workers. This unequal system,” he affirmed, “has revealed itself to be an actual exploitation of the human person”. This system had been applied on a planetary level by European nations to subjugate African countries, “and they have benefited from it in the most immoral way”.78 Nevertheless, the African situation could not find its own guidance in Marxism, reckoned Postioma. First because of the difficulty in applying the concept of ‘class’ on the continent, and due to atheism, absolutely unacceptable for a population which had a religious element present in every manifestation of social life. The conclusion was, therefore, that: “Africa will solve its most critical problem, underdevelopment, not by forgetting these spiritual values, but by integrating them into man as a whole”.79 Hence the existence of a dual idea: valuing local resources and claiming that Christianity had to consistently leave behind such a barbarian way of maintaining relationships with other men and other civilisations, typical of Western culture. For this reason, the path to follow could not be capitalism, as we know it today, nor atheistic Marxism, but an “African socialism” which Postioma interpreted as a sure path to a ‘new humanism’.

3.3 Postioma, the ‘Angolan Question’ and the Catholic Church

The official struggle for the independence of Angola began in March 1961. At the time, the Portuguese episcopate, through Cardinal Cerejeira, issued a note drawing attention to Portugal’s civilizational role in Africa: the concept was highlighted further just a few months later in Nota Pastoral de Confiança e Exortação Pastoral (20/01/1962). Thus, the mainland Catholic Church was unambiguous in relation to the position the Angolan Church should take regarding the question of independence.80 However, part of the Angolan Church reacted differently. While most of the Catholic clergy on the ground had been educated in Portuguese seminaries with their “cult” of the New State and the Church’s civilizational mission in Africa, there were others who had acquired a different culture and sensitivity. The Archdiocese of Luanda was the first focus of risk to the Portuguese colonial regime. It had to send to exile in Portugal the Vicar-General of Luanda (Monsignor Manuel Mendes das Neves), the teacher at the Seminary of Luanda (Alexandre do Nascimento), Joaquim Pinto de Andrade and several others (Alves, 2015). Some Catholic refugees in the Congo created (in 1962) the Acção Católica Operária de Angola (ACOA); others tried, in 1963, to organise the Second Vatican Bibliographical Exhibition, in addition to several courses about the Council. The Portuguese secret police (PIDE) seized a lot of books at the exhibition, and managed to keep all the information coming from the Council away from Angolan priests and believers.

The ambivalence of the Catholic Church in Angola continued in the following years. The Father Superior of the Spiritans for the District of Nova Lisboa, José Veiga, intended to stimulate the new missionary spirit of the Second Vatican Council, proposing the foundation of local communities in which the priests would share the same life as believers. This attempt was rejected by the Episcopal Conference, and Priest Veiga decided to leave Angola. In short, the climate of Angolan Catholicism in those years corresponded to the framework drafted by Hastings:

While it is true that the Second Vatican Council opened up a period of ‘experimentation’ and ‘dialogue’ (…), the Church’s canonical structures remained miles away from the realities of the African countryside.81

Adalberto da Postioma was inserted in this environment of turmoil between a “traditional” idea of missionary work and a more modern and “open” one. His political ideas, therefore, encountered fertile soil, although the higher levels of the Portuguese Catholic Church continued to defend the status quo. He taught his seminarians principles which included people’s self-determination, not least that of the Angolan people. The situation came to a head at a public debate in which he participated in 1967–1968. The debate was led by him, the black Archbishop of Conakry, Mons. Tchidimbo, and the Portuguese Archbishop of Luanda, Nunes Gabriel. The issue had to do with the independence of Angola, defended by Archbishop Tchidimbo and opposed by Archbishop Gabriel. Postioma published a letter addressed to the latter expressing a serious problem of conscience: how was he to deal with this question, he asked rhetorically, when encyclicals like Mater et Magistra, Pacem in Terris and Popolorum Progressio clearly stood for self-determination as a universal right, while in Angola this right seemed not to be effective?.82 The response was immediate: Postioma was forced to leave Angola in 1969 and to return to Italy – he would never come back to Angola. After this episode, Postioma was marginalised inside the Church, in spite of (or maybe because of) the works he wrote on African culture and the new missionary work he carried out after leaving Angola. After living in Brazil for about a year, between 1975 and 1976, Postioma fell seriously ill and it seems that he has been living until today in a quasi-vegetative state in a monastery in Northern Italy.

4 Conclusion

The Church’s positions regarding Africa have always been characterized by evangelising and civilizational anxiety and an attitude of superiority. In fact, the African continent was considered by the Catholic Church in the 19th century to be a field that was unknown and dangerous, in which it was difficult to carry out the work of proselyting.

In this article we discussed two of the most prominent figures in two different periods of the general history of the Catholic Church and specifically the conceptualisation of their missionary work. The meaning of the expression “prominent figures” has to be clarified here: it does not refer to the reputation or influence Comboni and Postioma had in the Catholic Church or, generally, in Christian African Thought towards Africa. In fact, if Comboni became the central reference point of the Church for Africa at the end of the 19th century, Postioma was very soon marginalized and neglected. Nevertheless, both are ‘prominent figures’ since their reflections on Africa are extremely relevant from a theoretical point of view, regardless of their respective fame. In this sense, Comboni and Postioma represent two significant figures of ‘African’ Catholic Thought in two fundamental periods, which overlap with the two Vatican Councils.

Daniele Comboni was part of the context of the mid-19th century, when anxiety regarding evangelisation was mixed with fear and disdain, and when to evangelise meant to civilise. Comboni positioned himself within this view in an innovative but politically correct way, acceptable to the Catholic Church’s senior clergy. He was radical in his attitude and religious inspiration, presenting himself as a servant of the church. He was firmly convinced that the continent had to be Christianised and civilised, always believing that Catholicism and Western habits had to advance in parallel. He therefore strengthened a Church that seemed discouraged about this great challenge. Comboni became a central actor in the Catholic landscape, so much so that he was worthy of a beatification process which, although slow, was successfully concluded in 2003. Comboni therefore represents a heritage officially recognised by the Catholic Church, and the missions he founded in Africa are, even today, the most solid and effective.

Postioma’s fate was as different as his approach: he applied the ideals of the Second Vatican Council and Africae Terrarum. However, it seems that he clashed with the ambiguous position of the Catholic Church on political issues related to the ‘Angolan question’. In Postioma’s thought, Christianity and Western civilisation went through a separation. Unlike Comboni, Postioma emphasised that Christianity should be rooted in universal principles and concepts that go beyond relationship ties with a specifically European culture. Such a conceptualisation was not easily accepted within the Catholic Church. Despite the Second Vatican Council, the Church remained highly conservative, especially in Portugal and among the clergy present in the African colonies, even though there were exceptions. When the discourse shifted from the religious to the political, the situation got worse. Postioma did not stop talking, especially when he went to Angola. He reflected, taught, and wrote about a condition that seemed to him simply scandalous. This fact can probably explain why he was neglected after he left Angola for political reasons. Postioma continued to write, however, although his contributions have been consistently ignored. His main contribution remains the formulation of a radical theory of intercultural relationships between Christianity and African culture, before this notion was officially recognized by the Catholic institution, in the 1950s.


The authors are grateful to Eric Morier-Genoud for his contribution to the improvement of the quality of this article.


Gadille (1988).


Idem, p. 47.


Taroni (2012).


Krumenacker (1999).


Battelli (1988).


Agasso & Agasso (2011).


Costantini (1948), p. 16.


Parrinder (1959).


Martina (1974).


Prudhomme (2005).


Quenum (2001).


Blyden (1994), p. 25.


Ibid., p. 66.


Cellier (2008).


Jenkins (2011), p. 49.


Insero (2007).


Pius XI (1926).


Gadille (1988), p. 54.


Idem, p. 55.


Guilmot (1969).


Congar (1957).


Paul VI (1965).


Arinze (2002).


Idem, p. 1.


Pius XII (1951).


Verucci (1995), p. 412.


Paul VI (1967).


Hastings (1995).


Louchez (2004).


Mary-Rousselière (1985).


Zwetsch (2015), p. 536.


Reese (1996).


Benedict XVI (2009).


WIN/GALLUP (2012).


Comboni (2003), p. 2313.


Comboni (2003), p. 409.


Comboni (2003), p. 469.


Prudhomme (2005).


Comboni (2003), p. 4060.


Ibidem, p. 5976 and p. 6851.


Comboni (2003), pp. 2298–2301.


Comboni (2003), p. 5084.


Ibidem, p. 5085.


Romanato (2017).


Comboni (2003), p. 4941.


Idem, p. 4945.


Walls (2002).


Comboni (2003), p. 997.


Ibidem, p. 1018.


Pombo (2013).


Comboni (2003), p. 2425.


Ibidem, p. 2525.


Comboni (2003), p. 751.


Comboni (2003), p. 997.


Comboni (2003), p. 2741.


Ibidem, p. 2741.


Ibidem, p. 2741.


Ibidem, p. 2743.


Ibidem, p. 2743.


Ibidem, p. 2746.


Ngoenha (2007), p. 45.


Gomes d’Oliveira (1964).


Postioma (1964a), p. 343.


Ibidem, p. 352.


Abbé Nokia Romain (1963), p. 220.


Postioma (1964b), p. 359.


Ibidem, p. 360.


Tinello (1967).


Petricola (2010).


Ciscato (1987), p. 24.


Cheza (2001).


Postioma (1969a), p. 13.


Anabengo (w.d.). On the philosophical concept of Muxima, see Miguel, 2007.


Postioma (1967).


Ibidem, p. 76.


On the concept and practical application of Ubumwe, see Ntabona (1987) and Purdekova (2015).


Postioma (1969b).


Postioma (1969a), p. 257.


Ibidem, p. 259.


Matos (n.d.).


Hastings (1979), p. 236.


Postioma (1968).


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