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The Cost of Foreign Religious Ideals In Africa
Africa has changed. And not for the better. The traditional state has all but crumbled, and the future of the continent rests on nothing but a multitude of people whose belief systems are now solidly foreign to the land. Their thinking is un-African and their tastes are rooted in the soils abroad. Is it Islam, or is it Christianity, or is it the doctrine of a market economy we have inherited from a painful colonial past?
From whence will Africa’s salvation come?
The tension between the Old and the New has ceased. It used to be even palpable, which nonetheless still generated a hope in the Old that the children of Africa, whose brains have been stolen, and replaced with central processing units that only take in commands and execute them with speed and at ease, would yet return and awake from the stupor of the matrix.
One African cannot recognize the other.
Islam and Christianity have even made it all too convenient to be in fear of one’s neighbor. Your neighbor can be a witch, a demon, or Satan himself. Or so we are taught and indoctrinated in these places where Africans troop to worship Yahweh or Allah – or whoever it is that they are.
Worse, for absolutely no religious or spiritual reason, the modern African now considers a Vodu practitioner, a follower of a mischievous spirit. Add to that, many modern Africans today have an agenda – to convert every single member of their families to Christianity or Islam, or else.
Our children no longer learn their history. They are stored in Boarding Schools, Mission Schools, where they don’t even have a chance to pick the Red or the Blue pill. They cannot tell you the name of the great grandmother who challenged Colonial Occupation. They don’t know the name of the great grandfather who fought against slave raiding rebel abductions of people. But, they can tell you about Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob and they too hope that one day, by God’s grace they can pay homage to a land far, far away, called Bethlehem.
“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” ― Morpheus, to Neo, The Matrix, 1999.
Their parents can no longer live next door to an Amaga (Ga for a Vodu statuette). They will not sit in the same taxi with a Trornor (Ewe Vodu priest) nor would they be caught engaging an Okomfo (Akan Vodu priest) in deliberations concerning the future of renewable energy and renewable materials for the village. No.
Perhaps, the traditional African way of life is to blame.
There has never been a period in Africa’s long history where religion has been separate and distinguishable from the culture, the rule of law and the Scientific Theories of the various African Academies of Science throughout antiquity. Even the beacons of African Science, Hesy-Ra, Merit-Ptah, and the Father of Medicine, Imhotep Jaimhotep (c. 2650–2600 BC) himself, to whom many African intellectuals still pour libation to daily, were Chief Priests of various renowned Temples throughout ancient Egypt.
Imhotep Jaimhotep – the one who comes in peace, is with peace – was the Chancellor of the King of Egypt, Doctor, First in line after the King of Upper Egypt, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary nobleman, High Priest of Heliopolis, Builder, Chief Carpenter, Chief Sculptor, and Maker of Vases in Chief.
This intimate part of the African genius, inseparable, is the religious underpinning of the culture. Which has thus served as the foundation upon which Christianity and Islam have bred the new current of mysticism against the African way of life and sowed the spiritual distrust for traditional African religions.
The unfortunate period of Colonial Occupation didn’t help. It exacerbated the problem to monstrous proportions.
In keeping with the traditions of Africa, the Church and the Mosque equally tapped into the religiosity of African culture and then turned it against itself. The new African, now indignant of the practices of Vodu, rather than seek to transform it, or even modernize it to suit, sought rather to demonize it with a backup doctrine that was foreign and antithetical to the essence of African-ness.
The Gods of the Rivers and of the Seas were questioned, even challenged – people begun to go fishing on the days of rest for the Gods – the ceremonial Ancestral dishes laid at the footsteps of traditional tombs and cults were taken and eaten by folks who claimed they had no dinner; the rule of law in traditional Africa was threatened, the extended family was under siege and the chiefs, having converted themselves into all sorts of Roman Catholicism, became ceremonial thugs than any rendition of the respectable position in the pantheon of African tradition laid down since the Pharaohs of Nubia.
Christianity and Islam hence became the tools to fight traditional Africa. As if that was bad enough, they became the only tools available to the educated African to critique, assess and suggest modifications to the African way of life.
By the time the kind of transformation the new African – now educated, or rather, schooled in the Missionary Coventries and Monasteries of Islam and Christianity – now living in the Big City sought had become a reality for the individual and family, it had succeeded already in wiping away any remnant of the customs and traditions of a people who had come to give so much to Africa and the rest of the world in terms of culture, science, religion and the rule of law.
By this token, it has become far more expedient for the modern African to think of himself first as a Christian, or a Moslem, second as Nigerian, or Ghanaian, and lastly as African. It is more prudent in the eyes of the new African to enroll their children in Piano Classes than seek the Xylophone player in his village to teach their children African folk songs without much ado about the capital flight from his village and the continued decline of the traditional market economy of his traditional area.
Never mind that once that Xylophone player is dead, a specie that has taken more than 10,000 years to develop and train, is lost forever in the vast expanse of the flow of time and space. The Xylophone master becomes extinct.
For after all, the Xylophone master, skilled in the singing and composition of satanic rhythms alone, is of no use to the new African who now believes that the Hymns of the Church of England are more capable of catapulting him and his nuclear family from the doldrums and stupor of a Hamitic (cursed) Religion that is Vodu, into the forever enervating abyss of Europe’s newfound material capitalism.
All Churches and Mosques, including the Heads of State of some African nations, have now banned the pouring of Libation – a custom that has underscored Africa’s 12,000 illustrious year history in bringing civilization to the rest of the world. There is not a single Christian who does not scoff at their Grandmother for suggesting to pour libation at a child’s Outdooring, forgetting that Outdooring, itself, as a tradition, is not a particularly Christian idea.
There is not one modern African who thinks that pouring libation to the Ancestors, their Gods, and our Gods, is befitting of a Circumcision ceremony for a baby boy without reverence to the fact that circumcision itself is not a Christian idea. It is intrinsically African.
Nor is there one modern African family today who would send its fourteen year old daughter back to the village to partake in a right de passage such as the Krobo Dipo Ceremony. No.
With Islam and Christianity, we have become afraid not only of our own traditions, customs and rituals, we have become afraid of our own people, and of ourselves.
In an age where Churches and Mosques dot every corner of our streets, where traditional African religions have been booted out and have no place in the circumscription of societal goals, there have come to only exist, a hitherto non-existent occurrence, mentally ill patients roaming and loitering, beggars, the poor, and children without homes, all of whom could never have been imagined under traditional African society.
We no longer know how to take care of our own even if we wanted. We no longer want to take care of our own if we had the means. We have become Neanderthals – no culture, no society and no humanity – just the instinct to eat, shit, hate, kill, destroy, sleep, fuck and die!
Islam and modern Christianity did not come to Africa to save lives; they came to destroy what was left of an Africa, after a painful and exploitative colonial period.
Obara Meji is a spiritualist, Ifa-Orisa practitioner, and teacher of metaphysics. Since 2011 she has used her online platform to share her personal experiences to those seeking answers about spirituality. Her teachings will expand into short stories, novels, and public speaking to continue her mission of bringing enlightenment to the world.