I came across an intriguing article not long ago, published in a 1927 issue of the Cumorah Monthly Bulletin. The Bulletin was the official publication of the South African Mission from 1927-1970. I suppose you know what’s coming next based on the title of this post, so I might as well get right to it.
WHO MAY BEAR THE PRIESTHOOD?
This is a subject of frequent inquiry in the South African Mission, where so many good people are unable to declare, with certainty, a genealogy pure from the Hamite or Canaanitish blood.
In 1927 questions about priesthood restrictions preventing black Africans from being ordained were “of frequent inquiry in the South African Mission.” Although the mention of “pure” genealogy or blood is a recurrence of similar statements from Utah leaders, mission president Samuel Martin (the article’s author) presents an argument I had not encountered before. Citing John the Baptist’s ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, President Martin states:
He [John the Baptist] gave no wider privileges to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery than were enjoyed in the days of Moses and Aaron regarding the Hamite or Canaanitish race receiving the authority of the Priesthood, and although at times where there is only an indication of the dark skin and the withholding of the Priesthood may seem an hardship, the servants of God dare not presume to confer it, but humbly submit to His judgement.
President Smith links the contemporary interpretations of Old Testament priesthood restrictions (curse of Cain/Ham = dark skin/slavery) to John the Baptist’s conferral of the Aaronic Priesthood. Maybe this is not necessarily novel, but it is an example of a church leader outside of the Mormon Corridor preaching such folklore to a dominantly black nation. Intriguing stuff. So, feel free to read the entire article and continue the discussion here.
 Samuel Martin, “Who May Bear the Priesthood?”, Cumorah Monthly Bulletin (July 15, 1927), Vol. 1, No. 2, 1: http://archive.org/stream/cumorahsouthern0102eng#page/n0/mode/2up
 LDS Church News, “Country information: South Africa”, LDS Church News (February 1, 2012): http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58653/Country-information-South-Africa.html
 Samuel Martin, “Who May Bear the Priesthood?”, Cumorah Monthly Bulletin (July 15, 1927), Vol. 1, No. 2, 3: http://archive.org/stream/cumorahsouthern0102eng#page/2/mode/2up