Reverend William Pruitt
This collection of 37 paintings was found in the Rhodes College collection in the summer of 2023. Reverend William Pruitt (1911-1999), who served as a Presbyterian missionary in the Belgian Congo from the 1930s to 1978, collected the group of paintings from eight artists trained at the Poto-Poto School. According to a note found with the paintings, he would purchase the paintings from the artists when he visited Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo across the Congo river from Brazzaville.
He named six of the artists in the note: Bola, Vockey, Gallin, Elenga, Inguila, and Tata.
In 1998, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. began an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against Pruitt made by several children of missionaries from the time he was a missionary in the Congo. As a result of the Pruitt investigation, the Presbyterian Church launched a large-scale investigation into all missions operating in Africa, and the commission released a report in October 2010 that recommended 30 changes to the church’s abuse policy.
For more information, read the report released by the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. here.