A couple of generations after the initial explorers ventured into central Africa, missionaries were well-settled in these areas. Major goals included first – learning local languages, then – translating the bible into local languages, and setting up schools.
The following introduction and a section on cooking techniques found in central Africa were written by a missionary for use in their schools for africans. It’s a good example of missionizing knowledge about the people with whom they worked.
It is hoped that this book and its companion volume dealing with non-African peoples will be the beginning of a series of simple, readable accounts for Africans of some of the various objects of general interest in the world of to-day.
There are many such works published for the use of English and American children. But the native African has a totally different experience of life, and much that is taken for granted by a child of a Northern civilized land needs explanation to one used to tropical uncivilized surroundings.
Again, the African knows the essential operations of everyday life in their simplest form, whereas the European knows them disguised by an elaborate industrial system.
All this makes books written for English children almost unintelligible to a member of a primitive race. These two volumes are far from perfect, but it has been difficult to know always how to select wisely from the mass of material at hand.
They will have served, however, a useful purpose if they form a basis for adaptations into the various African vernaculars, and afford an inspiration for other works of a similar nature. Thanks are due to Miss K. Nixon Smith, of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, for her kindness in criticizing the MSS. from her long experience of the African outlook.
Cooking methods with banana leaves:
The chief food of the Baganda [people located in today’s Uganda] is plantains or bananas, which are peeled when unripe and wrapped in smoke-dried banana leaves. These packets are slowly cooked with very little water in earthenware cooking-pots. When the food is cooked it is pressed and beaten, and then the leaves are opened out and make a plate.
Other things, such as beans and vegetables and fish, are cooked in the same way, wrapped in banana leaves and then eaten with the bananas
Source: Edith How-Peoples of Africa, Universities’ Mission to Central Africa 1920
This is a technique of cooking that continues to be used because of the unique flavor imparted by the banana leaves.
- The Missionary Position (dangeroustalk.net)