Sisters from Two Worlds

ISBN 978-3-89645-752-3

Sisters from Two Worlds

The Impact of the Missionary Work on the Role and the Life of Women in Namibian Church and Society

Edited by: Julia Besten, Gesine von Kloeden, Sonia Parera-Hummel, Angelika Söhne. With a preface by: Petra Bosse-Huber. With contributions by: Julia Besten, Lautha Beukes, Bettina Duwe, Nokokure Rogate Gaomas, Gety Elaine Dagmar Haoses, Brunhild von Local, Irene Nöh, Sonia Parera-Hummel, Angelika Söhne, Annemarie Töpperwien.

Series: Mission – Past and Present Volume 2

157 pp.
1 map, 9 colour illustrations, 10 b/w illustrations, 3 tables, author’s index, glossary, appendix
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
€ 24.80

In more than 150 years of missionary work being done by the United Evangelical Mission (UEM), it is impossible to neglect the role played by the women involved, be it the wives of missionaries, be it mission sisters from both the UEM’s location in Wuppertal, Germany and in Namibia, the former German colony of South West Africa. The working group Women in Mission (WiM) has been working for almost 15 years to try to appraise and re-evaluate missionary history from the perspective of women. Extensive research was done into the archives of the UEM to document the sometimes almost incredible stories of missionary wives and mission sisters living in the early days of colonisation through the turmoils of colonial wars up until the 1960’s and 70’s. These accounts are presented in a more personal and involving “storytelling” way. Surviving witnesses of missionary times in Namibia have been interviewed to comprehend the full extent of the social and personal impact these women from two different worlds had by working together.

The first few contributions in this volume concern themselves with the early history of missionary work being done by women in Namibia. Personal accounts of contemporary witnesses make up the bulk of the next few articles. Individual experiences are used to paint an up-close and personal picture of the social impact the interaction between women from both countries had on their lives. In the last few sections of the book, this social impact and its effect on today’s Namibian society are further explored. The foundation laid by German missionary wives and sisters is still a basis for religious and social work carried out by Namibian sisters. The very last chapter finally showcases the continuing partnership between German and Namibian women by looking at women’s groups from both countries working together even today.

All the authors present in this book are closely tied to the subject matter discussed: Julia Besten, herself a member of the WiM working group, is the Executive Manager of the Archives and Museum Foundation Wuppertal, responsible for extensive documentation of the UEM’s history. Gesine von Kloeden-Freudenberg studied Protestant theology and is the current Executive Secretary of the Department for Women, Youth and Children (WYC) of the UEM. Sonia Parera-Hummel, born in 1952 in Indonesia, served as UEM Executive Secretary for WYC and as UEM Executive Secretary for Asia. Angelika Söhne, born in 1964, is also a member of the WYC and the Women in Mission working group.


Petra Bosse-Huber: Preface

Editors: Introduction

Julia Besten:
German women in the early days of the Rhenish Mission Society

Nokokure Rogate Gaomas:
Namibian women in the early days of the Rhenish Mission Society

Annemarie Töpperwien:
“Torn between two worlds” – Tobias and Anna Fenchel in Keetmanshoop during the colonial era with its conflicts

Brunhild von Local:
“My heart’s desire” – Ida Kreft through the eyes of Elisabeth Riemann

Irene Nöh:
“My Namibian sisters” – The personal experience of a German woman working with the Namibian sisters

Bettina Duwe, ed.:
“My German sisters” – Personal experiences of Namibian women working with German women

Lautha Beukes:
Women in Namibian society today

Sonia Parera-Hummel:
“Tracing the Footsteps” – The service of German missionary women in Keetmanshoop and its continuation by Namibian women today

Angelika Söhne:
“Women as partners today” – Statements and perspectives of Namibian and German women from partnership groups in Keetmanshoop and Elberfeld

Accompanying material:


Der Titel des Bandes enthält durchaus eine Doppeldeutigkeit. Nicht nur begegneten sich in Missionarin und indigener Frau Schwestern aus zwei Welten, beide Frauen konnten auch auf je eigene Weise Teil der Welt der anderen werden und so in sich selbst Aspekte beider Welten tragen. [...] Der Band gibt einen guten Einblick in die Konflikte und Spannungen, denen die Missionarinnen und Missionare ausgesetzt waren. Die Auszüge aus den Interviews mit Frauen aus Namibia werfen ein interessantes Licht auf die Rezeption der Missionarsschwestern und Missionarsfrauen.

Beate Eulenhöfer-Mann in Jahrbuch Mission, 2009, pp. 259-261

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