Arthur Shearly Cripps was an Anglo-Catholic missionary in Rhodesia. A high Anglo-Catholic Anglican with an Oxford degree, Cripps volunteered his services to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and was sent in 1901 to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where he spent most of the next half century. Critical of church policy but still more critical of government and settler attitudes, he fought a lifelong battle for African rights Acquiring 7,700 acres of farmland, he built a thatched church at Maronda Mashanu (Five Wounds) and a round hut, in which he lived. His tenants paid no rent and farmed as they liked. After 1930 he formally cut his Anglican links, becoming simply a “Christian missionary in Mashonaland.” His poetry, novels, and a play entitled, The Black Christ challenged at a fundamental human level the assumptions of colonialism. He battled against government policies like the hut tax and befriended black political leaders, but his greatest significance lay simply in what he was-a sort of Francis of Assisi of the African countryside, enduring the greatest poverty and blind for the last decade of his life, but unconquerable in his hope.
G. Brown, A. Chennells, and L. Rix, eds., Arthur Shearly Cripps: A Selection of His Prose and Verse (1976); M. Steele, “‘With Hope Unconquered and Unconquerable…’: Arthur Shearly Cripps, 1869-1952,” in T. Ranger and J. Weller, eds., Themes in the Christian History of Central Africa (1975), pp. 152-174; D.V. Steere, God’s Irregular: Arthur Shearly Cripps (1973).
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.