Screenshot of the digital exhibition

This virtual exhibition explores a critical point in Zambia’s history that still influences how the country sees itself and is seen by others. This point is the arrival of Dan Crawford, a missionary from Scotland, in 1889.

Dan Crawford grew up in Gourock, a small seaside town along the River Clyde near Glasgow. He joined a budding congregation of Plymouth Brethren, a conservative circle of Christians, who rejected established churches like the Church of Scotland. The bible studying groups are fiercely independent churches and are committed to evangelise all over the world.

Dan Crawford, inspired by David Livingstone and Frederick Stanley Arnot, left Gourock at the age of nineteen to become a missionary in Central Africa, in an area that is now the borderland between Congo and Zambia.

This exhibition explores how the arrival of Christianity changed Bemba society by undermining matrilineal societal structures and introducing patriarchal, Christian and colonial values.

Since the arrival of Christianity through these early missionaries, the “new” faith has established itself firmly in the region and pre-Christian, matrilineal history has been actively suppressed by the church.

The exhibition reconstructs with the help of elderly women an erased part of history, a history that isn’t taught in Zambian schools, a way of life before the arrival of Christian missionaries, that is now mainly told through oral tradition. The exhibition tells the story of a queen who led her people from the Congo across lakes, rivers and land to settle down in what is now Northern Zambia, before the missionaries erased the memory of her.

The exhibition is available to access through a guest login or as a signup. The signup gives additional functionality like avatar and chat. For viewing on mobile devices please download the artsteps app (Google Play / App Store) and search for the Umupashi bwa Namfumu exhibition.