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General News of Saturday, 23 February 2002

Source: Accra Mail

Swiss Ambassador Revises "Survivors On the Gold Coast"

Basel Missionaries in Colonial Ghana", a book written by Dr Peter Alexander Schweizer, Swiss Ambassador, was on Wednesday introduced to the press.

The second edition catalogues the various aspects of missionary involvement in colonial Ghana and recalls the difficulties and sacrifices that a succession of missionaries endured towards implanting Christianity on the Gold Coast in the 19th century.

The 213-page book exhibits 100 photographs taken between 1862 and 1940 by the Basel Missionaries, who worked to establish the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

"While pioneering their works of development in the spiritual, educational, medical and economic sectors, the missionaries revealed an astonishing disregard for all sorts of discomfort," he said, including the deadly menace of malaria, yellow fever and similar diseases.

He said what motivated the missionaries to persevere against these odds, was their deep-seated moral conviction that the colossal wrongs of the slave trade needed to be rectified.

Dr Schweizer said the missionaries thought of travelling to Africa, "in response to the call to elevate the uneducated and heathens from their state of ignorance" but were surprised to see well-developed structures with intricate cultural tissues.

He said the missionary enterprise eventually became a cross-cultural two-way street with both sides gaining experience from each other.

Comparing missionary work to foreign investment in the epilogue to his book, the Ambassador said the missionaries spent a lot of time to establish confidence and make the preliminary experimentation to effectively implement a project. "Modern consultants rarely live among the target groups, nor do they have time to share with their counterparts as many of their daily concerns as the missionaries did."

He said it could be advisable to revert to the more measured and

personalised forms of co-operation that the 19th Century mission workers practised.

Dr Schweizer was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on 18th January 1941 and studied Law at the University of Zurich.

He did his post-graduate work at the University of British Colombia, Canada, with a doctoral thesis on "Contempt of Court in the Anglo-Saxon Legal Tradition."

Dr Schweizer has authored various articles and essays including "Pancasila", the State Philosophy of Indonesia" and a collection of poetry.