Africans and their obsession with other people's religion
by Cheryl Sanchez
May 14, 2008
Will this fatal attraction to other’s people religion spell final destruction of African Communities worldwide?
In this essay, the writer will attempt to do three things. 1) To provide evidence to Africans for the purpose of questioning their own ”obsessive attitude towards Christianity and Islam. 2) To show a link between under-development and religious ideas. 3) To question whether these aforementioned religions have contributed to the stagnation of Pan-Africanism, anti-African attitude and disunity amongst Africans? The writer will be calling on Africans worldwide to reject the gods and religions of the colonial masters, as a matter of urgency. Amazingly, the Europeans have ditched those gods, which were used to serve their capitalist expansionists “needs”. They now have” new gods” in the form of markets, stock exchanges, multi-national companies and football, which have edged out the” old gods” to the back burners. One would be hard-pressed to see a church in Europe in any European city packed with European punters. This obsessive attraction may have much do with learnt behaviour taught in childhood, by parents.
In the first paragraph, I have used the term Africans to refer to people who are normally referred to as “black people”. For me, black is a colour and not, an ethnicity. Black is a very limited adjective and is only ever used to describe African peoples. Chinese, Korean and Japanese are never ever described as yellow people. It is absolutely unnecessary to put black in front of the words-Caribbean/America and British. The 80 million Africans living outside of the African continent, courtesy of the slave trades-West and East remain Africans.
When I use the term Christianity, I am including the older as well as the newer non-conformist so called-”Black” churches. A “black church” refers to a church where the majority of churchgoers are either Africans from the continent or of African descent. It does not refer to the ideology preached within these buildings. It is the same old message from a dodgy ancient history book about ancient people’s from a far off continent. The writer also acknowledges and is aware of the existence of African Christians in the Lower Nile/Ethiopia area (Coptic Christians). Also, Africans in the rest of Africa had religions similar in outlook and practices as the Chinese, Japanese and Native Americans e.g. ancestor worship as opposed to Jesus and Allah worshipping.
What does history tell us about the slave and colonial masters and their version of Christianity?
The history books covering the period book between 1700-1900, one could discover how religion-especially Christianity and Islam came to be introduced to Africans and for what purpose religions were used. It was introduced to Africans during the slave trades (West and East). Initially, part of the enslaving process, after capturing Africans was to impart religion to the “savages”. The Europeans introduced Christianity and, the Arabs introduced Islam. Another part of the enslaving process was to deculturise people by penalising Africans for their home grown practices. One could see 2 distinct camps being formed amongst African people’s. During the period 1700-onwards, the Bible was the only authority believed and used back then, until the rise of science came about in Europe. Can you imagine how lucky the ruling classes back in Europe felt, when they saw the potential of the bible, as a tool to enslave peoples, to further the mercantile mode of capitalism.
Historical accounts have given a plethora of evidence to show that, the slave masters both European and Arab practised what they believed to be the “truth” from the Bible and from the Koran. They also provide in-depth accounts of the scale of brutality, torture, theft, terrorism, murder unleashed on unsuspecting and trusting Africans. Both Islamic and christian traders, adventurers, priests, investors and criminals armed with the bible and the Koran and “gifts” to achieve their goal of slavery, colonialism and the development of Europe and the under-development of Africa. Missionaries were used to soften up the Africans, on behalf of the ruling classes, both on the African continent. In the Americas- religion was tolerated by the master because, they saw the potential of these ideas to keep the slaves ”cheerful” Is it any wonder that slave masters opposed abolition ideas and literacy amongst the slaves, when the bible supports slavery, subservience, discrimination of all types including gender, ethnicity non believers and all of the above?
Christianity, capitalism and cruelty in Africa.
The main reason for expanding the missionary outreach work in Africa was to make it easier for the capitalists both state and individuals arriving in Africa, intent on making their fortunes and fortunes they did make e.g. Cecil Rhodes- and the Royal South African Company, which eventually became involved in diamond mining. The Jewish family who was invited to South-Africa back in 1890’s and now rules the diamond world-The Oppenheimers in South-Africa. In order to make personal fortunes, the state officers on the ground had to terrorise many Africans, forcefully move them from their land, steal and impound their cattle (Money), force them to leave their land and their families, separate families and turn them into waged slaves/paid labourers.
Zimbabwean writer M. Gazi (2004) provides evidence of how the state gave land to returning soldiers from both European wars in both Zimbabwe and Kenya. Afterwards, laws were enacted to give European owners of land a semblance of legality. D. Anderson( 2005) gives similar accounts of what was done in the 1950’s to various ethnic groups in Kenya, in order to re-settle Europeans in the best part of Kenya-The Rift Valley/Happy Valley areas. The methods /tactics were the same to enlist collaborators, beat or incarcerate those who dared fight back, label them “terrorists”, exclude them from the political process and use the colonial orientated education as a means of causing disunity.
T. Pakenham (1992) and other writers provided evidence about the African Holocausts both in South West Africa (German) now modern day Namibia. The Hereroes, Namas were nearly wiped out in German occupied SWA. The methods used included starvation, concentration camps, hard labour, splitting up families, land grabbing, killing livestock. Some recent estimates put a figure of approximately 3,000.000 Hereroes and Namas were killed. During all these atrocities the missionaries just continued their missionary field work as normal. This action shows that, they agreed with the colonialists anti-African destructive policies totally. Lands which were stolen from the Africans in SAW were passed unto German nationals for the purpose of winemaking. Most of them like their neighbouring Boer/Afrikaneers share the same religion-Calvinism.
A.Hochschild (1998) produced a page by page account on how another unknown European monarch of a newly formed country Belgium in 1937-the size of Jamaica became mega rich from Congo’s rubber. The writer itemised the following methods used to coerce Congolese to work.. The state officers working for the King used murder, starvation, exhaustion, exposure to the elements, disease and cutting of the hands. Women were imprisoned and denied food and water until their husband or male relatives brought the right quota of rubber. Leopold did not have much money to invest in such a large area of Africa so, he looked to rich Americans from both Jewish and Christian backgrounds to invest in his African moneymaking schemes in The Congo.
Leopold was able to court people like Senator Nelson Aldrich-Rhode Island, John Pierpont Morgan-financier and father in law of John D Rockefeller jr and the Guggenheims-owners of the Guggenheims Museum in NY, Bernard Bauch and Financier Thomas Ryan. Leopold also used bribery by stealing Congolese artifacts, which he then gave to the American natural History Museum. Off course, when the time came for Leopold to declare as the “independent Free state of Congo”, he could depend on the USA through his investors, to recognise this scam. Hochschild says “millions of Congolese died within 5 years of Belgium colonisation” died. Today, in DRC-45,000 die a month.
The Islamic method then and up to the present is still enslavement. Eastern Slave trade where many peoples from modern day Malawi,. Mozambique and Tanzania were taken as slaves to work on plantations. Some were used as guards in harems and, as servants of the wealthy Arabs. The enslaved Africans of the east took on islam, some had their testicles cut off if they worked in the harems. Off course-skin tone was used as a criteria to enslave people. So, people with the most melanin were “natural slaves”. A practise still practised in northern Africa especially in Mauritania and Sudan. See Campaign of Terror: State sponsored Repression of Africans, which was the outcome of 3 reports beginning in 1990-1993. The “weak state of Mauritania is using old colonial methods to keep Africans in their powerless state e.g. detentions, sexual harassment, theft of possessions. Confiscation of legal documents, forcible expulsions and massacres.
Islamic Hausas in northern Nigeria have been placated for years since 1967 with a larger share on the national income of Nigeria- I suspect this is done, due to larger numbers of this ethnic group within the Nigerian army. During the Biafra War for Independence from Nigeria in 1967, Hausa took the opportunity to murder thousands of their christian neighbours-The Igbos. What made or still make the Hausas turn on the Ibos then and now in northern Nigeria? It is as if they have to remind the Ibos that,” they are Moslems and they are in charge of the means of coercion-the army” It as if the Nigerian state is unwilling to practice social justice and treat people fairly. It is as if the religious obsessions within Nigerian societies almost de-humanise or de-sensitise them from acting against man made social and economic inequalities. So, whilst the natural resources-oil is located in the eastern and southern parts of Nigeria- it is the north which disproportionately benefits from the south and eastern oil income.
And the Response of Africans Worldwide to the plethora of anti-hueman evidences.
Collectively, nationally and internationally-Africans have more or less tended to collude with both Christians and Islamic slave and colonial masters, by accepting and maintaining the master’s left-over. They provide a plethora of excuses-excusing the ideology, whilst blaming the few powerless, misguided individuals. By disconnecting the limitations or shortcomings of the ideology, they avoid questioning or criticising the religion. This enables them to retain practices and observances to the letter. There is a huge gap between beliefs and everyday practice. This a reflection that, many of the religious dictums are not practical for modern societies. They are unachievable by most believers. Most religious zealots may be afraid to accept the reality of their inability to answer major questions facing mankind or many complex problems faced, by the majority of mankind e.g. the environment ,food production, the international division of labour, etc.. On top of which many poor Islamic Africans save their hard earned money to attend the Haj to Mecca, which becomes quite a risky journey for the well melanated Africans, as they are often captured upon arriving in Saudi-Arabia. The darker their hue-the more likely they can be captured to be enslaved by their rich Saudi Islamic Saudi “brothers”. All in the name of Allah- Segal R (1995).
Some Africans have colluded with the local political and capitalist classes who are managed by their European handlers. This has had fatal outcomes and a loss of political leadership with the murders of Patrice Lumumba in 1961, Dr. Walter Rodney in 1970’s, Thomas Sankara in 1987, Dr Eduardo Mondlane and the suspicious death of Machel Samora and the many members of the Black Panther Movement who were gunned down. Some collaborators help overthrow their leaders, to assist their ex-colonial master like what happened with Nkrumah. Kwame Ture was not permitted to return to Trinidad, during the 70’s as he was seen as a person non-gratia for his radical Pan-Africanist views. The long imprisonment of Mangaliso Sobwuke in South-Africa and the murder of Bantu Biko in 1977. Amilcar Cabral
Those fervent African catholic church goers are not even aware that, catholic Italian scientist Dr Anthony Gallo has registered himself as co-creator of the HIV virus by applying for the patent certificate. This information is widely available on the internet site www.boydgraves.com They failed to notice that, many Christians in Rwanda from both ethnic groups took part in the killing or as they called the acts-Interwehamwe_”We kill together”. Pastors often helped by using their authority to get greater numbers of people into church for faster extermination. We shall never know with accuracy how many Africans were killed in the Biafra War, the Rwanda -the Inter ethnic proxy war and the continuing war in DRC, nor in the Proxy war in Sierra Leone-over ownerships of the diamonds. The so-called army men have been educated in faith schools-catholic or Church of England. They kill indiscriminately, on behalf of the west and for power to rule ,not necessarily to lead.
The obsession with both organised and non-conformist have actually stood in the way of transforming us from slaves to people. As a result-we still behave like slaves in the midst of modern, complicated, capitalist societies in the UK, USA/Europe and Canada. Our communities are reproducing many sports people, pastors and singers and musicians but very low figures in the sciences and other disciplines and or professions,which means we are not as prepared to handle problems within these societies, as other ethnic groups. The consequences of the low production of business people, professionals and thinkers and scientists leaves the door open for illiterate pastors, preachers and politicians to come in and steal their minds, hearts and their MONEY!
Hill. N (1967) spoke of 5 persistent “evils” in most societies but more obvious in under-developed societies. They are poverty, fear, ignorance, illiteracy and hopelessness. The writer would like to add a few more to his list of five evils. They are organised religions (not ancestor worship or eastern religious philosophy), wastage of time, money and opportunities, intolerance, skin/colour discrimination, which occurs between different African ethnicities. This skin/colour discrimination or prejudice has been described as pigmentocracy. Fran Fanon(1967) also has another evil to add to the ever-growing list of evils. He said that “the national city based bourgeoisie is also a persistent menace/evil”- The national middle classes and religious leaders have been standing in the way of progress and development in the many “proxy , independent states Africa states” London /Modern Examples of religion doing harm and not good!
Two recent events have confirmed the deadly consequences of the unhealthy obsession with organised religions. The killing of Victoria Climbie at the hands of her christian “looney aunt and the boyfriend, in 1999. The couple were regular attenders of those noisy non -conformist “African” churches. Apparently, the couple complained of the child’s behaviour to the pastor, who confirmed that, the 8-year old girl was demonised or possibly a “witch”. Young Victoria-who was born in Cote D’Ivoire was sent to her to have a “better life” Instead this young child was tortured to death in a house in north London by 2 Christians. Many Africans blamed the Social Services or some accused the lady of being a “barbaric African” .Some accepted that, the couple may have “misinterpreted the bible”. Nobody from the African community publicly criticised religion or the system of beliefs of the couple. Church attendance levels instead of falling, have increased with even more fervor and zealously since the murder of this young child.
Following the 1990 premature death of Victoria Climbie, the general public and professionals alike generally apportioned blame to Haringey Social Services. In particular, a lone, unsupported, newly qualified African British social worker was singled out as “incompetent”. She also faced prosecution in a law court along with the actual perpetrators in this religious based murder, where the business of nurturing, protecting, caring for and facilitating child development never occurred. In spite of the Lamming Report, where Lord Lamming made a host of recommendations aimed at safeguarding vulnerable children who have come into contact with social services and other health care professionals, which he hoped would safeguard children and prevent death and injuries.
Unfortunately, another young Africann/Angolan national had a lucky escape from certain death in a north London rivulet. Again, the relatives of this child were regular members of a local “African” church called the Combat Spirituel Eglise-Congolese Church) owned by a group of young, unemployed men. Again, the pastor in this real life case diagnosed the child of 9 as being demon possessed or a “witch”. So he needed to be delivered, which came at an exorbitant price. In addition, other unpalatable methods were encouraged as a method grubbing hot chillies the eyes, starvation/fasting, name calling, beatings causing common assault and grievous bodily harm. The female, church-going perpetrators planned to place the child in a laundry bag , tie the top off to avoid escaping and finally to be thrown into a nearby river. Fortunately- a male relative stepped in and the young child had a lucky escape. When Hackney Social Services caught up with the child- she had 43 different marks ie. Long term physical abuse!
Another African Caribbean gentle man who rents from a 63 year old Nigerian landlord had a strange tale to tell. He recounted how a female child was kidnapped and held hostage in the same north London flat shared with his landlady. The young girl was kept isolated, restricted from moving around the house or, even meeting her personal hygienic needs. She lived and behaved like a hostage. The tenant managed to talk to the young girl and offered her a meal, which she ate ravenously. The girl claimed ,”she was kidnapped from a village in Nigeria and brought to London for sale or for slavery / She could not be certain. The next day-the girl could not be seen or heard. It is as if she vanished into thin air. He swears that, the girl was sold into slavery in the UK. The landlady failed to provide any explanation as to the girl’s” sudden departure”. So, the Lamming Report, Safeguarding Children Policies, Area Child Protection Committees and the many other government initiatives failed to protect this vulnerable foreign child.
BBC2 aired a documentary on Monady 3rd April at 23.20 at night. The content focused on the prevalence of child abuse in these non-conformist, unregulated and noisy “African” churches. The writer took note of the time and wondered, what was the point of airing such an important issue so late at might? It should have aired at 20:00pm. The programme showed incidences of child abuse and abuse of young ,vulnerable, illiterate women happening in these churches. Victims are often afraid to report the perpetrators as, they are held in high esteem. There is an urgent need to carry out research and the findings to be taken seriously. The research should be led by a social scientist or a social anthropologist. If we are serious about vulnerablity within our community-we must not treat religious leaders and or their religion as a “sacred cow”.
The intention in this essay was to seek proof of whether there is a god or gods. The writer questioned why Africans worldwide were drawn to other people’s religion, in spite of the documented atrocities committed and written by the ancestors of the perpetrators of those crimes against Africans worldwide. The answer seems to lie in the anti-African psychological legacy kept alive since the 1600’s to the present. If there are any “demons” worth casting out of our minds at present-it would have to be those 2 major “demons-the religions of the slave and colonial masters. It is those cultural legacies which need to be “exorcised” from our communities on a grand scale. We cannot move forward and develop as a “freed community” if, we continue to hold onto cultural practices belonging to a time past, when we were slaves and de-humanised. Before the Europeans arrived, we had our worshipping routines-let us regain our confidence in our ancestor worship rituals. Our ancestors would be pleased to see us cherish what is ours.
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