Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2013


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Gerald M Boodoo

Committee Member

George S Worgul

Committee Member

Elochukwu E Uzukwu


Dialogue, East Africans, Evangelization, Libermann, Spiritans


This study was conceived primarily as an attempt to evaluate and critique the common assumption that Francis Mary Paul Libermann (1802-52) like any missionary during his age who went to Africa brought Good News of salvation, recreated self-esteem, confidence and self-respect in Africans who had been dehumanized by slavery. This tendency to overemphasize heroic exploits and contributions of self-sacrificing European missionaries and founders of missionary Religious Congregations often overlooks the part played by the people who were evangelized and their influence on the so called Christian heroes. Far from being a hagiology of Libermann, this study engages in an ideological dialogue by first, evaluating Libermann's theological anthropology of l'oeuvre des noirs in sitz im leben of the nineteenth century with its prejudices against Africans which can also be easily discerned in Libermann's writings and second, underlining important underpinnings of the East African religious traditions which played a critical role in the reception and acceptance of the Gospel message.

Drawing from Levinas' concept of the "other" sometimes referred to as the "face" which cannot be conceptualized, speaks to us, and is inviolable, I argue that Libermann too allowed the "other" that is, Africans, to speak to him. Using this insight I explore the relational notion of human being which is very prominent in the East African concept of person and its impact on Libermann's relationship with Africans, the primary object of his mission. Missionary activity in the East African context, I conclude is a dialogue, a listening experience that leads to metanoia (conversion) of both the evangelizer and evangelized.