Study Guide

Out of Africa Religion

By Isak Dinesen


It's time for State Church Death Match! In her memoir on her life in Africa, Isak Dinesen describes the competing colonial religious interests as they try to get Kenyan souls to join their side.

From the French Catholic fathers with their fancy statues and free bicycles to the Scottish missionaries who have a pretty good hospital, the Christian denominations are well-represented in the Colony of Kenya in the early 20th century.

But this isn't just a two-way competition; the various African religions, not to mention Islam, have their own hold on people's hearts and minds, and Dinesen does a pretty good job of describing the resulting mayhem in her memoir.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why does the Baroness choose to take Kamante to the Scottish Mission if she's more of a Catholic sympathizer herself?
  2. Many of the natives convert from one religion to another at some point during the memoir. What does this tell you about the nature of religious belief?
  3. How does religious belief factor into daily life on the farm?

Chew on This

The Christian missionaries are only in Africa to profit from the native people.

The different religions' prestige (Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and tribal) corresponds to the social status of their believers.