2.26 Heart of Africa Mission

August 19, 2012

Astonishing.  Hayes is not moving.  He’d like to be gone from the Heart of Africa Mission but daily torrential rains prevent travel.  In this and the next post I’ll lay out his case against C.T. Studd – the reason Hayes wanted to leave.  In following posts I’ll describe his relationship with the African people among whom he lived and worked – the reason he loved his time at Niangara.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Hayes lasted ten months at the Heart of Africa Mission – a long time in one place for him, but fourteen months short of his intended commitment.  For most of 1914 he, Studd, and Buxton were the only non-Africans living at the mission; for two extended periods, Hayes took sole charge of the fledgling compound while Studd and Buxton hunted or traveled in search of new mission sites. The others at The Heart of Africa Mission in 1914 as listed with Hayes in Grubb’s appendix to Christ in Congo Forests:  Miss Chapman, Miss Flangham, Mr. Coles, and the Richardsons, (Bowers died at Yei before reaching the mission), arrived on December 21, three days before Hayes departed.

Hayes loved this part of Africa with all its adventures, but hated both Buxton and Studd.  The disgust for Buxton derived mostly from Buxton’s lockstep worship of Studd who styled himself “Bwana” of the mission.  (“Studd has proclaimed his native name shall be “Bwana”, Swahili for Master.  The term is unknown in Bangala.”)   Buxton wasn’t alone in admiring C. T. Studd.  Even today one finds no shortage of adulation directed toward Studd on the internet and in various biographies written by his admirers – though even the most ardent admit that Studd could be a difficult colleague.  Writing about Bowers, the would-be missionary who died en route to Niangara, Hayes says, “If he had lived and stayed on here, he would have become disillusioned and disgusted even as I am now, or else have succumbed to the general hero worship of this charlatan Studd.”  These seem to be the two polarized responses others had to C. T. Studd.    Granting Hayes was constitutionally averse to hero worship, neither was he given to unwarranted hatreds.  Hayes’ diary of his time at The Heart of Africa Mission lays out three general critiques of Studd’s missionary style that disqualify Studd from Hayes’ respect.

The first eight of the fifteen missionaries arriving at The Heart of Africa in 1916.
C. T.Studd’s daughter Edith, Alfred Buxtons future wife, appears top center.

First, Hayes, very much grounded in practical concerns of this world, followed his own rough-and-ready, golden-rule style of Christianity, so had little regard for Studd’s evangelical soul-saving fervor.  After one month at the mission Hayes wrote of Studd: “He is as arbitrary a man as I have ever seen.  There is no viewpoint but his own….”  Where other biographers of Studd have seen zeal for the Lord, Hayes perceives self-aggrandizement:  “These two men [Buxton and Studd] spend most of their time writing to London telling of their exploits, misrepresenting the country and in every way publicizing themselves to gain further fame.”

Studd permitted no boss at the mission other than Studd.  “Strangely, they [Buxton and Studd] realize I know my work.  I hear them talking after I have retired, and then Studd praises me, but he wants me to know he is boss, and wants every native in the country to know he is the big shot of the Heart of Africa Mission.”  So, for example, halfway through Hayes’ supervision of a house building project in April, Studd “calls the [Azande] men before him and harangues them, saying he is master, and that if he says build a house, I must build it, and if he says not, that goes too.  To not listen to what I have to say, but to always appeal to him.”  What other result could follow?  Hayes temporarily lost control of all discipline among the working men.

In addition to building, Hayes supervised care of the grounds and gardens he and the working men planted at the mission.  In June, Studd, furthering the soul-saving work of the mission, imposed another serious restriction on the practical work Hayes did housing and feeding them all:  “If the nightly two or three-hour discourses Buxton hands the workmen were not enough, now morning lectures of a theological nature have been instituted.  These last until ten A. M., the men’s eyes wandering in utter bewilderment.”  Buxton delivered the sermons in Bangala in which he and Hayes were fluent;  Studd had not learned the language.  “He [Buxton] endeavors to translate the Bible to them, old genealogies of Christ and other Bible characters, dry and dull to one conversant in English, let alone one who knows nothing of books or languages other than their own tribal dialects short on expressions and words for such theological discussions as Buxton puts forth.” In June, Hayes joked with the working men, whose jobs depended on attendance at the twice-daily sermons, that he might lose his job as well by interceding for them, “an answer that brings peals of laughter, for every man knows the strain between these two men and me.”  By September “I got up and walked out of the services when Studd tried to say a few words as to his being the big boss, I was only a small boy.”

Though shaking with fury, Studd dismissed the men and “calling Buxton, he began to pray God to cast out the silent devil troubling me.”  According to Hayes, their plan had been to domesticate Hayes by marriage to a “helpmate.”  He writes that this was to have been the role of the 28-year-old Miss Flangham, one of the missionaries arriving December 21,1914.  On meeting her just before his departure Hayes wrote, “I try to be courteous to her, but it is with an effort.  She is not to blame for it.”  (Miss Flangham married Mr. A. W. Davies, pictured top right above, who arrived at The Heart of Africa Mission in 1916.  The two remained at the mission until 1931.)

So, Hayes’ first indictment of Studd:  an autocratic leadership style,  an otherworldly fanaticism about soul saving, and a patronizing supercilious attitude.  Hayes encountered these characteristics in bosses all over the world.  They always caused him to move on, as he will when the Congo rainy season allows travel, but these alone cannot account for the bitter invective Hayes heaps on Studd, the famous cricketeer turned missionary.   The next chapter describes Hayes critique of C. T. Studd’s attitude to Belgian tax graft.

Advertisements

2.25. Heart of Africa Mission

August 12, 2012

This map is taken from Love at First Tooth: Family and Missionary Politics in East Africa and Congo 1913-1934 by Robin Johnson, dedicated to Elizabeth Ann Thompson Flinn who joined the heart of Africa Mission in 1915.  Niangara appears near the top of the map just south of the Sudan border.

February 21, 1914 – April 5, 1914

Personnel at Heart of Africa Mission Niangara, Congo as given in an appendix to Norman Grubb’s Christ in Congo Forests (1945)

1913 1914
Mr C T Studd 1913-31
Mr A B Buxton 1913-27
Mr H Perkins 1914-15
Miss Irene Flangham 1914-31 (Mrs Davies)
Miss L Chapman 1914-28 (Mrs Buck)
Mr S J Richardson 1914-20
Mrs S J Richardson 1914-20
Mr A J Bowers 1914-14
Mr E W Coles 1914-18

First impressions are so important.

Twenty-two year old Alfred Buxton had interrupted his medical studies to join C. T. Studd in foundingThe Heart of Africa Mission in 1913.  On meeting him, Hayes wrote: “Buxton is a tall, callow youth, apparently out of place in the bush.  It is easy to see he knows his position of family and breeding is superior to most folks, and this will not sit well with me.”  (Buxton married Studd’s daughter Edith in 1917, but broke with his father-in-law in the 1920’s to pursue his own missionary work in Ethiopia and Somalia.)

C. T. Studd Africa 1910

Fifty-four year old C. T. Studd had renounced his family fortune and his place as foremost cricketeer in England to pursue missionary work for fifteen years in China, beginning at age twenty-five, then six years in India and finally, against doctors advice, in the Congo basin.  On meeting him, Hayes wrote:  “Studd, so called pioneer and founder of this  mission is decidedly a self-centered man.  He is about five feet eight inches in height, of sallow complexion and has a thin beard and the dreamy eyes of a fanatic.  One could easily imagine them as the eyes of an opium eater.”  (Studd, a regular user of morphine in his last years,  continued his zealous missionary work until his death at 70 at Ibambi, Congo.  The Heart of Africa Mission Studd founded persists under the name Worldwide Evangelization for Christ (WEC).)

Buxton and Studd together receive this summary:  “Both [Studd] and Buxton are aware of a special dispensation from the Almighty to evangelize the world, beginning with the Dark Continent, and do not propose to let anything stand in their way doing it.”  On his second day at the “splendid” location for the Heart of Africa Mission, Hayes overheard Buxton asking Studd “whether I (Hayes) should not be relegated to a table by myself.”  Three white men alone in the jungle working out seating arrangements according to London class lines – Hayes doesn’t say what they decided, but the conversation alone told him where he had arrived.

Nevertheless, three days later Hayes wrote, “What’s the use grouching?  Do the best you can boy.”  In London he made a two-year unpaid commitment to the mission and says that upon arrival he threw every pound he had into the community chest as a gesture of good will.  Now he sets about building tables and chairs from slabs rejected from a Belgian sawing operation nearby and organizing his half-dozen Azande workmen to clearing the brush readying the ground for planting.  By now Hayes is competent to direct the workers in the Bangala language.  “Buxton criticizes all I do with all the wisdom gained in 22 years of pink tea fights, under the supervision of nurses and governesses and at school.  The practical experience I have learned in a life time about the world means nothing.”

On March 8, Hayes wrote:  “Studd has been disciplining me this week.  To do this he put me on two meals a day, one at seven in the morning, the other eight at night,  me working at hard labor in between.”  From eating bananas “or anything I could get to satisfy my hunger,” and sleeping on a camp bed with “six inches of water under it,”  lumbago sets in.  Hayes is sure he could cure himself using his own head but “Studd seemingly considers me a human guinea pig to experiment on.”

A week later, endeavoring to throw off the pain of lumbago, Hayes hiked to a nearby Mangbettu village to visit Bukinda, a small chief contracted by Studd to build a new house for the mission.  “I photographed Bukinda sitting in the midst of fourteen of his wives.  His village is scrupulously neat and clean.  the houses are decorated with designs of red, white and black … these colors stand up well, and are arranged in every sort of design, with some sort of attempt to paint men and animals, especially leopards and horses, as murals on the outer walls.”  (I know of none of Hayes’ photographs surviving.)

With Hayes not traveling, his diary becomes a little disjointed.  A paragraph or two on European explorers to the region:  Benjamin Gosling, who traveled with Boyd Alexander, lies buried at Niangara, Schweinfurth, a Russo-German explorer came through in 1870. –  Then a bit about the history of African rulers:  Munza, who was “a sort of Napoleon in his way, for he gathered all the small tribes into his empire and made them Mangbettus,” was also a notorious cannibal. – Comparisons between the local tribes with whom he lives:   The Mangbettus are ingenious crafters who make fine chairs, houses, and musical instruments; contrasted with the Azandes who “are willing to work at anything to advance themselves.”  Hayes will hire only Azandes “much to the dislike of the Mangbettus who own this side of the river.”  – But entries always returns to carping about Studd and Buxton:  Studd paid Bukinda 150 francs, about $30, for 75 men working six weeks to build his house.  Studd got a fine house; Hayes got the fallout from the unpaid workmen:  “Every one of them reproaches me, for I supervised the work.”

By the middle of April Hayes writes “I am considering leaving this place when the next dry season comes.  No one could make it in the rains.”  As the roster above indicates, Hayes lasted at The Heart of Africa well into 1915 but not without considerable conflict with, “These two men [who] spend most of their time writing to London telling of their exploits, misrepresenting the country and in every way publicizing themselves to gain further fame.”