The life of Dr. Martin Rautanen
Peltola, Matti
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Subtitle: The life of Dr. Martin Rautanen
Author: Matti Peltola
English edition 2002
Publisher: Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission
Finland, 2002
Hard-cover, 15x22 cm, 375 pages, 4 map sketches, 25 bw-photos

Publisher's announcement:

Nakambale is a gripping description of South-West African history (1869-1926) describing the time Martin Rautanen, a young Finnish man, came to work in the Northern part of the country as one of the first Finnish missionaries. He lived and worked in the country for 56 years. The book describes the meeting and interaction of two very different cultures. Life was hard and insecure in the days when people travelled with ox-wagons, tribal kings were suspicious about white people, tribal feuds were commonplace and only some Germans had reached in Hereroland.

Professor M. Peltola paints us a picture of how the local kings took the poor "teachers" under .the administration of their kingdoms. Their lives were in danger many times and they finally learnt how to survive and become part of the country. The book is also an exiting and compelling description of the fate of the early Finnish missionaries in South-West Africa. The book is a historical work and an exiting and interesting story of Martin Rautanen's life and career. It is a well researched biographical study which is based on Rautanen's diaries.

Introduction to the English edition:

(Harri Siiskonen, Prof. of General History - Univ. of Joensuu, Finland)

During the last two hundred years, the history of south-western Africa has been characterised by the gradual economic and cultural integration of the area into the world system, the phenomenon today called globalization. Owing to its location remote from navigable harbours and main trade routes, North-Central Namibia - the former Ovamboland - remained outside this process of transition until the middle of the 19th century. The first descriptions of Ovamboland from traders and explorers were glowing. For Francis Galton, who visited Ovamboland in 1851, the region emerged as a charming country of corn. "Fine dense timber-trees, and innumerable palms of all sizes, were scattered over it; part was bare for pasturage, part was thickly covered with high corn stubble; palisadings, each of which enclosed a homestead, were scattered everywhere over the country. The general appearance was that of most abundant fertility."

In addition to traders and explorers, the Ovamboland region also attracted missionary societies. Because of a scarcity of resources, the Rhenish Missionary Society (the present name United Evangelical Mission) working in central and southern parts of Namibia was unable to extend its work into Ovamboland, and instead offered this option to the recently established Finnish Missionary Society (FMS) (the present name The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission) (1859). The pioneer group often Finnish missionaries arrived in Ovamboland on the 9th of July 1870, and among them the young Martin Rautanen (1845-1926). With only brief interruptions Rautanen worked and lived in Ovamboland until his death.

The arrival of the Finnish missionaries meant the beginning of a new era in the history of Ovamboland. In contrast with the temporary visits of traders and explorers, the missionaries settled permanently in Ovamboland, and began to spread the Christian faith and other elements of the western culture among the Ovambo people. Until the end of the German colonial period in 1915, missionaries were the only permanent European residents in Ovamboland. German colonial officials confined themselves to temporary visits, and monitored and controlled the situation in Ovamboland from their military posts in Namutoni and Okaukuejo located outside Ovamboland itself.

From the historian's point of view, the arrival of missionaries noticeably improved the preconditions for historical research. Through their diaries, correspondence, and the minutes of their meetings, missionaries transmitted information concerning, for example, the progress of their work, the way of life and culture of the Ovambo people, and of course their own feelings and personal lives. The major part of this data can be found in the Archives of the Finnish Missionary Society deposited in the National Archives of Finland. The missionary records form the most important collection of written sources for the study of the intrusion of Europeans and European culture into Ovamboland during the late 19th and early 20th century. The work of FMS has continued until the present, but during the second half of the 20th century, the content of their work has changed radically from the days of Martin Rautanen. [...]