Although little discussed, one of Europe’s greatest achievements was the successful imposition of Christianity on the people it conquered, enslaved and colonized in Africa.
Just think about it: How did Europeans managed to convince the people they tricked, bought, branded, chained, enslaved, worked like mule and traded like cattle, to believe in their god?
It is strange that little credit is given to European Christian Missionaries who so successfully sold the world the fiction that the god Europeans worship, is a Universal God of all mankind. It is a triumph of incomparable proportions.
It is pure magic to successfully convince a people that the supposed Son of the god of your very cruel master, who treat you like a chattel beast, who beat you at will, rape your wife and daughter whenever his libido stirred, and sold you off like a cattle whenever he needed spare cash is your Saviour.
That was one of the magic European missionaries wrought in Africa, and one for which Africa continue to pay a terrible price today.
Here is what the late Kenyan Independent leader, Jomo Kenyatta, said of the Missionaries: “When the Europeans came, we had the land and they had the Bible. They asked that we close our eyes in prayers. By the time we open our eyes, they had the land and we had the Bible.”
Most of Africa regain independence some six decades ago, but the unviable states into which European colonialists sundered Africa continue to grapple with the deleterious effects of slavery and colonialism.
This is another topic Europeans do not want to talk about. Since many European schools refuse to teach any subject of history that did not seek to praise or justify Europe, many Europeans remain ignorant of how much they contributed to the large mess we see daily on the African continent.
Take the case of Western-styled democracy that was imposed on Africa on the eve of independence. It surprises greatly that many European commentators who condemn the failure of the system in Africa, and blamed Africans for being incapable of self-government, never questioned whether or not the socio-cultural experiences of the Africans was ever taken into consideration when the system was imposed on them.
If, as attested to by failing voters turnout in most western countries, democracy is failing in Europe, why then do we expect it to work in Africa? There are ample historical evidences that pointed to the fact that Africans evolved sophisticated political systems before the European incursion/imposition – there were noted Kingdoms and great Empires (Ghana, Mali and Songhay). Many parts of Africa still practice their ancient political systems that stretches back into antiquity. That the traditional system of government clash, sometimes violently, with the imposed system, should not surprise any honest analyst. But that is a story for another essay.
We can conjecture that it is in the sphere of religion that the Europeans wrought the most grievous and enduring havoc on the African psyche. The imposition of Christianity totally stripped the African of his very humanity, as he no longer can relate to his own god in his own image.
As the great Kenyan nationalist, Oginga Odinga, rightly pointed out in his classic, Not yet Uhuru, the colonialists sought out the most loyal and pliable of local elite to whom they handed over power. The trick was to ensure that European culture, privileges and interests will be maintained even in an ostensibly independent nation.
Of course, European colonial administrators employed and promoted only those natives that were deemed to be loyal to the empire, and are deemed to have best assimilated the colonisers language, culture, mannerism and religion. This created a class of Africans totally alienated from Africa, who look up to Europe for validation and, invariably, looked down on their more traditional fellow Africans.
The result is the creation of Africans who are more loyal to Metropolitan Powers than to their native lands.
In countries like Ghana, almost all the post-independent leaders were Christians and Christians hold most of the important civil service jobs. These leaders were products of mission schools and they have imbibed the culture of the colonial power.
It is difficult to point out where things went awry, but along the road, Christianity in Africa lost its innocence. The traditional Christian sects – Roman Catholicism, Anglican and Methodist were pushed aside by a more ferocious form of fundamental Pentecostal Christianity. Unlike the Old-School church leaders who were contended to keep a low profile, the new Priests were as aggressive as they are garrulous. Unlike in the Old churches where Missionaries live frugal lives and were contented to be accepted to evangelise, helped to build schools and clinics, today’s religious have no interests in such mundane stuffs.
The Old church believe in giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto god what is god; the new ones refused to make a distinction between Here and There. Not for them the idea of waiting for a Kingdom of God in heaven; you must create your Heaven on Earth. Before long Pentecostal churches sprang up all over cities, town and villages preaching the Gospel of Crass Materialism. The new priests have absolutely no compunction in breaking laws in proclaiming their Gospel of Prosperity. Whereas the Old Priests frown on materialism, the New Pastors believe in loudly proclaiming their new-found affluence. They brazenly jettisoned the teachings of Jesus Christ that rich people will have hard time entering the kingdom of god, and loudly brandishes their palatial mansions and big jeeps. With wealth came acceptance, so much so that the very rich ones among the pastors became laws unto themselves. They put up church buildings wherever the wish. They break laws, rules and regulations at will. They can stop traffic to hold jamborees. They care little for laws and hold all-night vigils at residential areas, where they keep citizens awake all night with their loud music.
Because they hold sway over thousands of Congregants, many of the Pastors become very powerful people in society, and become friends with political leaders. Presidents and Ministers courted them assiduously.
It is difficult to know whether it was religion that corrupted politics in Africa or the other way around, what is not debatable today is that Christianity has indeed become an Albatross that is strangling the life out of Africa. Religion has turned many Africans into unthinking Zombies who, with childlike helplessness, wait for the intervention of gods for the supply of basics like water, food and electricity. Citizens have been persuaded not to hold elected officials responsible for their inactions to provide basic services. Because of religion, leaders no longer feel any need to fulfill election promises made to citizens. All they need to do is to turn citizens’ eyes into the sky, to await the interventions of the gods.
Praying for Ebola: Few years ago, the dreaded EBOLA disease ravaged the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The last two countries were just emerging and recovering from devastating wars. With much of the health infrastructures destroyed by the conflict, they clearly lacked the capacity to cope with a fast-spreading epidemic. That was understandable. What was difficult for citizens of Liberia to fathom was the declaration by their president, Madam Helen Johnson Sirleaf, of seven days of fasting and prayers.
Many asked what exactly Madam President expected to happen after the fasting and praying pyrotechnics. Luckily, the international community mobilized to help the affected countries.
Praying for Zambian Kwacha: Liberia was not the only African country where leaders seek divine intervention in the affairs of man. The meltdown in the global economy resulted in the collapse in demand for Zambian main export, Copper. With the capacity to earn foreign exchange greatly reduced, the value of local currency, the Kwacha, collapsed.
To appease the lamentations of citizens, the president called for three days of prayers to help shore up the value of the sinking currency. Many Zambians were not amused.
Praying for Fuel Scarcity: Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of crude oil. The country derive more than half of its income from the export of crude oil. Yet, for some unfathomable reasons, Nigeria periodically suffer from fuel scarcity. So acute was the latest bout of scarcity that a leading Pastor called on Nigerians to close shop and hold special prayer to help with the fuel scarcity. The pastor refused to say whether he expect crude to rain down from the sky or for angels to repair the country’s three refineries.
Christian leaders in Africa have become so emboldened that they have no compunction whatever to make the wildest claims of supernatural powers. No problem is too big for them to tackle. They not only mesmerize their congregants in churches, but they feel so powerful that they take to the airwaves to loudly proclaim their paranormal powers. Here are samples of some of some posters found in Ghana and Nigeria:
Figure 1 Bottled Blood of Jesus for every ailment
Figure 2 Special Prayers for winning Elections
Figure 3 5 days of Bringing Heaven to Earth
Figure 4 Supernatural Powers to solve any problem
Figure 5 No problem is too big to be solved by spiritual power
Figure 6 I Smell America - special prayers for those eager to travel to the USA
Figure 7 Special prayer to destroy enemies
Figure 8 Special prayers to change fortunes
Figure 9 Special prayers if you don't want to leave Lagos a poor person
Figure 10 Special prayers for those in need of a Spouse
Figure 11 Prayers to cast out spell and allow one to buy and drive a car
Figure 12 Prayers for those tired of misfortunes in life
Figure 13 Prayers to kill your enemies before they kill you.
Figure 14 Special channel to Jesus
Figure 15 Non-stop prayer Gym
Figure 16 Religious Leader receiving supplications
Figure 17 Casting Holy Spirit Fire against Ebola