Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Junod, Henri-Alexandre

Mozambique , South Africa

Henri Junod was a missionary ethnographer in South Africa. He was born at Saint Martin, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the son of the founder and pastor of the Independent Protestant Church. Educated at Neuchâtel, Basel and Berlin, he was ordained in 1885 and served for two years as a pastor. Experiencing a call to mission service, he set sail for Mozambique in 1889 after training in Scotland and marriage to Emilie Biolley of Couvet.

His initial appointments in the Swiss Romande Mission were as a teacher at Ricatla and principal of the Bible school at Shiluwane, Transvaal. A gifted linguist, he published grammars in Ronga (1896) and Tsonga (or Shangane, 1909). His two-volume classic study of the Tsonga people, The Life of a South African Tribe (1912-1913), was judged in its day to be “the finest monograph written on an African tribe.” His sympathetic analysis of traditional African beliefs and ritual behavior, including divination, set a high standard. Other interests included traditional African music and the taxonomy of African butterflies. Retiring to Geneva in 1921, he served as president of the International Bureau for the Defense of Native Interests and as consultant to the mandates commission of the League of Nations. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lausanne.

Norman E. Thomas


Works by Junod include Manuel de conversation et dictionnaire ronga, portugais, français, anglais (1896), Les Chants et les Contes des Ba-Ronga (1897), and Mission Suisse dans l’Afrique du sud (1933), Henri-Philippe Junod, Henri A. Junod: Missionnaire et Savant, 1863-1934 (1934).

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.