Christianity arrived in Africa almost 1,800 years before european colonization, and almost 1,500 years before Vasco Da Gama (a Catholic) set foot in the continent.

Christianity reached Egypt in 50 AD and by 200 AD it had spread across North Africa which was under the Roman Empire. Church Synods were held in Carthage (in present day Tunisia) between the 3rd and 5th centuries, and as you know, one of the councils that affirmed the Biblical canon was convened in Hippo (in present day Algeria) in 393 AD.

In Ethiopia, Christianity was declared the official state religion in 341 AD. This followed the arrival of a Greek-speaking Phoenician missionary named Frumentius, who converted King Ezana of the Aksum Empire. Frumentius became the first Bishop of Axum, which was a city in the Modern Tigray region.

Sudan was introduced to Christianity in 6th Century AD, and the religion flourished in the Nubian Kingdom before the arrival of Islam a few centuries later.

According to historical records, Pope Victor I (189-199 AD) was a Berber from present day Libya, which was under the Roman Empire at the time. Pope Miltiades and Pope Gelasius 1 were also from North Africa. Cyril of Alexandria (a black man), became the Patriarch of Alexandria in 412 AD. He was a very important figure in the African church, only second to St. Augustine of Hippo.

This is just a brief historical background on Christianity and the early church in Africa. There is a lot more, which we might explore in the future.

Wishing all Christians a graceful Good Friday as we reflect on the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice he made for us. May the church be strong, and become a true reflection of Jesus, the chief conerstone on which it is built.


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