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John W. Brooks Oral History Interview (#OH0050), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
John W. Brooks (b. February 18, 1899) discusses his early family life in North and South Carolina as the son of an evangelist minister (p. 1-8) and his education at Falcon Christian School and Holmes Theological School (p. 9). Brooks and his family spent their first ministries in South Africa in Krugersdorp, Transvaal, and Natal. He discusses farm towns, living conditions in native towns, jobs for Blacks, and the multitude of tribal languages (p. 10-13). As Superintendent of the Missionary Conference from 1925 to 1926, he was able to visit many native churches and discusses tribal structure and life in general as well as customs of polygamy (p. 35-36), marriage rituals (p. 36-39), and initiation into manhood (p. 43-45). Contracts for native mine workers, their compounds, and living arrangements are discussed (p. 21-25). Missionary work in the compounds and in the tribal villages is discussed throughout the interview. The provision of education for natives through Sunday schools, mission schools, and a teacher's school are detailed (p. 23, 45, 71-72) as is the mission school's gradual takeover by the Native Education Department. Aftereight years in the United States (1947-1954) Brooks returned to Nigeria where he organized and operated an African Bible College to train native ministers, 1957. Differences and occasional friction between the various Christian denominations (p. 70-73) are noted as is the difference in treatment of black ministers (p. 63-70), Rev. K. E. M. Spooner being one example. The slave trade (p. 48) is discussed as are apartheid and discrimination in various contexts. Also discussed is the rural economy, including farming, hunting, and barter, in South Africa (p. 39-40) as opposed to the Nigerian system of tribal land ownership, the ability to buy and sell land in Lagos and lease land in other parts of the country (p. 76-80). The Nigerian work ethic is also noted (p. 87-88).