Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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Africa Book Author Jonna-Lynn Mandelbaum
Africa Book Author Jonna-Lynn Mandelbaum
Africa Book Author Jonna-Lynn Mandelbaum
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When Jonna-Lynn began writing research papers for her doctoral studies, she was unfamiliar with the term missiology. This field of study looks at what the missionaries were doing when they first came in contact with unknown languages, cultures and peoples. Prevailing assumptions were that the missionary's impact was negative, but Jonna-Lynn's research revealed that in some situations missionary programs helped preserve languages when colonial policies would have eliminated them.

Today the life cycle of the malarial parasite that thrives in the anopheles mosquito is well known, but in 19th century Africa, missionaries attributed the strange cyclical febrile illness, malarial fever, to bad air which is the literal translation of the Latin term malaria. The missionaries used forms of quinine without understanding the effective dose or frequency for taking it to prevent the attacks. While many of today's drugs help prevent attacks, scientists are trying to develop a vaccine to prevent the illness from occurring.

Through the ages governments have used various systems of informants. During the Salazar/Caetano regime in Portugal the secret police organization was known by the initials DGS or PIDE according to the regime. There was a saying while Jonna-Lynn lived in Lisbon that if three people were talking together, at least one was an informer. This meant that you had have a high level of trust in a person before you revealed any kind of information to him or her, personal or otherwise. The system was so pervasive that one never trusted phone conversations but used the call to make arrangements to meet friends if something important needed to be passed on. Similarly, nothing significant could be written letters; she used a code with her parents unless she could get letters smuggled out of the country to be mailed. She was often followed in Lisbon and in Mozambique and a couple of these situations are described in UNSPOKEN FAREWELL.