1896 to 1944
Henri Monnier was a Swiss Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) missionary
in Rwanda. Born in Pieterien, Bern Canton, the fifth of twelve
children, he worked in the watch-making industry after eight
years of formal education. He moved to London in the watch
trade in 1915 and in 1919 married Winfred Maddams. A few months
later, D. E. Delhove, a Belgian
missionary who had worked in East Africa, persuaded the couple
to accompany him to Rwanda, which had just became a Belgian
trust territory. Arriving in 1919, they occupied two of the
former Bethel Lutheran mission stations. Winfred died at Kirinda
in 1920, shortly after childbirth. Delhove established Gitwe,
near Nyanza, and Monnier settled at Rwankeri, in the northwest.
In 1924 Monnier returned to Switzerland and married Olga Pavlov,
who joined him in his work. Monnier and Delhove employed the
traditional threefold Protestant missionary approach of the
time, which included direct communication of the gospel, networks
of schools, and medical dispensary work. Monnier exerted a
powerful influence upon the Banyarwanda and in the early 1930s
this work culminated in one of the most notable people movements
in SDA mission history. Hutu and Tutsi were united in an outbreak
of enthusiasm that brought thousands into the church. Monnier
was a natural linguist and an active member of the British
and Foreign Bible Society-sponsored team that translated the
Bible into Kinyarwanda under the direction of H. E. Guilleband.
The Kinyarwanda New Testament was published in 1931; Monnier
worked on revisions and on parts of the Old Testament for
the remainder of his life. He died of typhoid fever in Beirut,
Lebanon, during a trip. In addition to his translation work,
which included a hymnal, Monnier wrote a Kinyarwanda grammar
for English-speaking people and a series of Kinyarwanda pamphlets
on the gospel and the major doctrines of the Christian church.
Bibliography A. Long, "Christianity in Rwanda, with Special
Emphasis on the Seventh-day Adventist Church," (M.A. thesis,
Andrews Univ., 1973); Ian Linden, Church and Revolution in
Rwanda (1977); "Monnier, Henri" and "Rwanda," in Seventh-day
Adventist Encyclopedia, 2d rev. ed. (1996); M. Twagirayesu
and Jan van Butselaar, eds., Ce don que nous avons reçu(1982).
Russell L. Staples
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.