Christianity, Civilization and Deculturation of Africa
By Syrulwa Somah, PhD
Executive Director, Liberian History, Education & Development, Inc. (LIHEDE), Greensboro, NC
Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Safety & Health
NC A&T State University, Greensboro, NC
Syrulwa Somah, PhD
Can one be a Christian without deculturation of our cultural practices and spirituality? Or is it imperative to denounce one’s traditional cultural practices and spirituality in order to become a true Christian (civilized)? These are salient questions that crossed my mind in the process of writing this article, as I continued to wonder why, in spite of more than 500 years of deculturation, exploitation, slavery and the subtle promotion of ethnic tension, citizens of the Black Continent not loyal to doctrine, precept and concept but remained as divided, mean, and cruel to each other as ever before. Even the prospects for peace, reconciliation, national socio-economic development, and stability in Sub-Saharan of the Black Continent continue to get dimmer and dimmer by every hour of the day as its national leaders juggle for political power and prestige among themselves while ordinary citizens wrestled daily with poverty, malnutrition, deforestation, environmental pollution, and disease such as preventable malaria that kills a Black child every second and siphons $92 billion from needed development fund.
Many of the citizens of the Black Continent seemed to believe that "God” would come from outside of the Black Continent to save and feed the citizens just as in the biblical epics. As a result, we generally take pleasure in bestowing as our spiritual mental, denominations or persons with no proven records of spiritual understanding and insight to develop our spiritual consciousness thereby leading us into one abyss of darkness after another. And I need not remind you that in our Sub-Saharan history, the foundations of continental consciousness, leadership, good governance, spirituality and rule of law were built on a soil that can best be described as "grade C," such that our Black Continent is easily prone to “spiritual erosion”, "political erosion", mis-education, and instability.
To sustain itself as a sovereign Continent, the people of the Black Continent must begin to seriously find its spiritual root and educate its traditional spiritual leaders and people to tell our people’s God concept or no one else will. For anyone with a sense of imagination can easily see that our mothers’ tongues and ancestral system of spirituality hold the past, the present, and the future to together because their ontology place more emphasis on the collective prosperity, environmental stewardship and survival of the Black Continent and people of the world. But sadly, the people of the western world have never truly sought to understand our spirituality, traditions, and the godship of ours in particular. As a result, when the westerners made a mess of their cesspool, they created artificial standards, official languages, traditions, cultures, religious laws and conducts that all nations had to obey as "gospel." And somewhere in that process, our people and other indigenous people lost appreciation for the spiritual and cultural values dearest to us at large-those spiritual and social practices that sustain us through the centuries. We need to return to those mothers’ tongues, spiritual values and leadership styles, cultural institutions that promoted less violence if we must ever free ourselves from the stranglehold of religious and psychological dominance.
For example, the Jews have managed to keep what is dearest to them by thoroughly integrating themselves into one society through Zionism. As a result, the Jews can tell their own stories with fanfare, as in the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, as narrated in the Holy Bible book of Daniel. Here, the Jews (or Hebrews) can celebrate two young men who were thrust into a fiery furnace in defiance of a religious decree of the king of ancient Babylon and emerged from fiery furnace unharmed. These kinds of stories do encourage young Jews in their struggle for national liberation, and we must learn to tell similar stories to our youths in our mothers’ tongues. For the truth is that all people tell their own stories to encourage the next generation, and people of which Sub-Sahara should be no exception. For example, in nations like Liberia we have spiritual stories in the thousands such as: The Dan "Celebration of the Death of a Leopard"; The Loma "Sheepman (Bala) or Warrior"; The Mano "Kula"; The Bassa "Djuankadyu" or "The Embarkation of Earth"; The Gbandi "Buga Game"; The Sapo "Beo or Warrior"; or even "The History of Kinja and Basketry Making, etc. I am sick of hearing people say, “We the people of the Sub-Sahara cannot have our “Zionism” or”everlasting flame nationalism.” Like panning for gold, we are ought to become a sieve to separate the riches from the rubble, the rice seeds from the weeds. If you are on trial, how you perform on trial makes all the difference. We must learn to make ourselves a sieve, filtering out the trash to find the treasure.
The people in the West have the habit of cultural racism: attributing every good thing to themselves and try to prove that it is because of them that the world got this blessing, otherwise the world was steeped in ignorance and completely unaware of all these benefits. We will see that this is not true. We are more than walking shadows as others want us to believe our inner being is flawed. We are in turmoil today because we do not know our own stories and lost the taste of our culture. Unquestionably, within each one of us is a hero we are waiting for who can overcome any odds. It is that hero that is the ideal human being in God's mind and denying ourselves to be someone else is pitifully ungodly. We have instead helped to advance the European agenda by teaching our children to read mostly European books and religious books devoid of our concept of God at mission schools. We barely read about any tribal spiritual hero, folktales and legends of our culture. At the result, the spirituality of our people has been called myth and “pagan in divine kingship” as a mean of belittling our worldview of godship. We have been made to believe that a judgment day is coming when those of who loved our mothers’ tongues and “colonial languages-rejecting sinners” will be dragged out of Hell to face God and give an account of our sins. That has been a horrible and fearful thought. We must extinguish the fuels of these cultures-targets preaching to snuff them out. Acquisition of mother’s tongue is a divine process because it occurs in a manner different from other types of behavioral learning. For example, developing child has a “language origin” whose brain segment is hard-wired to suddenly triggers language learning as early as age 2 without instructions. No other species possess that unique and distinct ability of communication system.
Origin of African Spirituality
African Spirituality is African Spirituality. It is as simple as that! It cannot be called by any other name. Most Africans believe in an invisible Super Natural Being (God) with several deities. For example, among the Bassa of Liberia, beyond the Noah level or ancestral god, is the God’s domain. The High God is the credo, the foundation, and the source of all leadership power in Bassa spirituality. In praise, the Bassa would refer to God as Dehbioh, Bomo or Geledephoh, the Highest Lord or God. Additional descriptions are Ghan Geledephoh (God of Almighty), Dein-dein Geledephoh (God of Wonders), Dabain-de-po Geledephoh (God of Miracle), and in metaphor, Geledephoh Mohn badahvehneh nyon badian, meaning God is a vast, unavoidable swamp. The Bassa’s view is that there is a God, the Sky God or the Supreme God is the Creator and head of the universe, without Whom, there is no nothing.
Africans do not worship dead relatives as people want us to believe. Ancestral reverence is a way of conferring the honor to deserving parents for all the sacrifices they made for us and for our future generations. Each time we speak the names of our ancestors and each time we revere them, we learn the secrets to immortality. Americans remember their dead relatives by erecting monuments in their honor and putting flowers on their graves annually, and setting aside one day (May 31) as a Memorial Day. On this day of remembrance Americans are reverencing their dead relatives for the sacrifices made for them. Even if we looked at other parts of the world, we would see similar practices. The Chinese have a centralized system for reverencing their dead relatives. Among the Mexicans, ancestral reverencing is a formal festival, “Dia de los muertos” or the “Day of the Dead.” During the celebration, food is prepared, flowers are bundled, and sacred music sung at burial sites of the ancestors to maintain the state of their spirituality. The Irish remember their dead too, especially St. Patrick, the patron saint, one of Christianity's most widely known figures.
African worshipped God every moment of the day, not just on Sundays. Time was life; life was time as the saying went. Our daily life was time, which was an endless natural cycle that cannot be measured solely with some kind of mechanical device. Time allowed our people to build the past into the present and the present into the future. In other words, time was our total existence; so our tradition did not live by an artificial keeper or clock that pushed one from the true nature of God. Simply, our people did not work in the confinement of time but treated it as a communal commodity to benefit all people. Time also was associated with an event such as death, coming of the new moon (at this time our youth, playing in the moonlight, sent out their wishes to be fulfilled when the new moon returned). In addition, the place of worship was not limited to God’s courthouse and gate of heaven to the cathedral. If our people did not go into a house to pray, to Europeans, it meant that our people did not know God. Our tradition did not “house” God because God was nonresidential. Africans and Caucasians differ on the concept of saviorism; that was to be reborn in Christ as the only mean to God. In other words, man is a sinner. If he does not repent, he will die unconverted, forever away from God.
African spirituality existed long time before the time Jesus first proclaimed his message in the home of Judas of Galilee, the founder of Zealotism, a Maccabean tradition of holy war, aggressive resistance, and inclination for martyrdom . African spirituality existed before the “Galilean Proclamation”, Jesus’ vision of the “Coming Kingdom of God”. Indeed, African spirituality existed for million of years before Pauline gospel of “Christ’s resurrection”; the Age of Inquisition—simply death and destruction of non-Christians, and Christendom, the amalgamation of all peoples and sovereigns under the Roman Popes.
The Origin of True Christianity
Jesus Christ was born at the global crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. His parents were Hamitic and Semitic descendants of Ham (the youngest son born in Africa, Egypt) and Shem (eldest son) of Noah. As such they were people of color, living closer to the tropical Continent than any other land of the planet earth. Before Jesus’ birth, the kind of racial prejudice in our modern society did not exist. It is safe to say that our civilization as a people shaped Jesus’ worldview. Jesus attended all-boy “secret grove school”. In other words, Jesus went in the Poro University where all boys went for initiation into manhood. In fact, Jesus was born in the line of David according to 2 Samuel 7:12-13. David who later became Egyptian Pharaoh was called Thutmose I (Thothmes). He was a Pharaoh and founder of Free Masonic, a secret society like the Poro University.
Axum (Abassania) was originally a Bassa (Ethiopian kingdom), which not only had a strong political tie with Egypt, but also with Kush’s Meroitic State. It gave contributions to its peoples and cultures, including strong ties with Israel that was built by a “mixed multitude” that left Egypt during the Exodus after 400 years. (Exodus 12:38). According to ben-Jochannan, the legend retained as historical fact and accepted unquestioningly by the average Christian was that Bassa was the imperial dynasty of the country originated with Menelik I, son of Makeda, the queen of Sheba and King Salomon. The dynasty was now, as in the past, referred to as Solomonic, and was presumed to have exercised sovereign power with minor interruptions since its inception. The Bassa epic maintained that the queen of Sheba visited “King Solomon (r. 961-922 B.C.E) in Jerusalem to acquire some of his wisdom”. Chancellor averred that because of the Black Continent’s natural position to Palestine, there was not only close relation between our people and Jews, but interplay of “pre-Christian religious concepts” in addition to Jews in leadership positions in Ethiopia. He observed that not only Moses, the great “Lawgiver” was born on the Continent, but wedded a Bassa priest’s daughter.
Two books Exodus and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament narrate the life of Moses. Accordingly, he was born in Goshen, a region in ancient Egypt, North Africa. At the time of his birth, the Hebrew tribe lived in Egypt under oppressive Egyptian ruler, Pharaoh. The known Jewish historian Flavius Josephus of the first-century recounts that Moses, as a head of Egyptian and Hebrew military fought war with the Abassania (Ethiopia/Bassa) or “Cushites.” At the end of the Egyptian-Abassania war, Moses married Tharbis, an Abassania (Bassa) princess. According to Josephus, Tharbis was Moses' first wife and Moses marrying Zipporah came later when he went to Midian (Jewish Antiquities 2.10-11).
Josephus narrates that the Abassania (Bassa) had invaded Egypt and occupied the land of Egypt as the Abassania (Bassa) leadership defused across northern African and reached the Mediterranean Sea. The Abassania (Bassa) conquer, as the historian puts it, prompted the Egyptians to consult their oracles, "And when counsel came to them from God to take the Hebrew for their ally, Pharaoh asked his daughter to give up Moses to serve as his general." Moses "gladly accepted the task," Josephus recounts. Moses’ military plan was to surprise the Abassania (Bassa) army. Therefore, he chose to travel through the serpent-ridden desert as opposed to taken the obvious route along the Nile River. "Moses came wholly unexpected upon the Abassania (Bassa), joined battle with them and defeated them, crushing their cherished hopes of mastering the Egyptians, and then he proceeded to attack and overthrow their cities, great carnage of the Ethiopians ensuing," Josephus describes Moses’ successful sneak attack.
Moses' military genius impressed the Bassa princesses Tharbis who saw Moses fought her people as she watched from within the capital city's walls: "Tharbis, the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians, watching Moses bringing his troops close beneath the city ramparts and fighting valiantly, marveled at the ingenuity of his maneuvers and, understanding that it was to him that the Egyptians, who until now despaired of their independence, owed all their success, and through him that the Ethiopians, so boastful of their feats against them, were reduced to the last straits, fell madly in love with him."
The accounts of the marriage of Moses and Tharbis are one of the most extensive additions to the biblical text by Josephus. Artapanus, earlier writer than Josephus considered to have been an Alexandrian Jew writing in the second century B.C.E. also recounts Moses military campaign to Cush. While Artapanus does not mention Moses marrying, in Cush, there is an agreement among all these writers that Moses fought war with the people of Abassania (Bassa). Other older Jewish legends account in detail how Moses wedded an Abassania (Bassa) named Adoniah. One of the Abassania (Bassa) kings crowned Moses and gave him Kikanos's widow, Adoniah, as his bride. So at age 27 Moses became king of Abassania (Bassa) or “Ethiopia.” According to another version of the story, Pharaoh dismissed Moses and fearing to go back to Egypt and face the wrath of the Pharaoh, he went in hidden to Midian, where he met Zipporah. "Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman). "Clearly, they understood that Moses' wife in Numbers 12:1 came from the Abassania (Bassa) or “Cush,” south of Egypt.
Therefore, it is foolhardy to question African involvement in the early life of Jesus and Moses. To condemn the African ways of life using Christendom or Western Christianity is to equally condemn Moses and Jesus’ worldview, for they are one and the same. In the case of Jesus, his fitness for teaching, preaching, ideal teacher and model teacher was unsurpassed because of his effective used of pictorial speech to express and enforce Divine Truth which reflects his African worldview. Africans are parabolic preachers and story-tellers. Like Jesus, African parables are superb in their aptness, conciseness, beauty and appeal. Jesus did not invent this form of teaching but he certainly endowed it with high originality and gave it a deeper spiritual import and dimensions. Parables go back to antiquity which he learned from African school in Egypt. When Jesus became using parables in his teaching outside of Africa, they did not understand why Jesus would adopt such a form of teaching as to furnish seven parables in one discourse. His listeners were confused not because this was a new method of teaching but new to the non-African audience he was speaking to.
There are some of our brothers and sisters were so brainwashed that they think as Europeans do that we are spiritually incapable of producing a person like Jesus or a Pope. In their inner hearts, the vast majority of our people believed only the Europeans are ordained to produce the Messiah. They failed to realize that our people had produced kings and Popes long before the Europeans appeared on the Continent. According to historian A. J. Rogers, there were three popes of Rome who were Blacks: Victor (189-199) A.D.); Melchiades (311-312), and St. Gelasius (496 A.D) who led Christianity to final triumph against the Roman Empire.
We were present at the birth of Christ at his infancy. Balthaza, a Bassa and a wise man who was one of the Magi, was a Black. In fact, Bassa is the oldest Christian nation in the world. It should also be remembered that several of the early leaders of the church were Blacks. Simon, called Niger (means black in Latin), Lucius of Cyrene (now Libya), and Barnabas and St Augustine were Blacks. Having been baptized by Phillip, the Bassa Eunuch, a high official in the service of Queen Candace, took the teachings of Jesus to Bassa. Most of the early churches, the Latin-speaking in Northwestern of the Continent and the Greek-speaking churches in Northeastern of the Black Continent demonstrate that our people had practiced Christianity longer than the so-called “civilized people,” that is, the Europeans. The role of our people in the creation and spread of true Christianity is often whitewashed.
Today the Black God does not resemble that of Blacks, but the people carry names of Jews, Italians, Englishmen, French, Germans, Spaniards and Portuguese because they we are indoctrinated that our names as pagan in origin. Being that God gave them to us our names and mother tongues, that’s all the reason one need to use them as official languages, keep and use them. Continuing to proudly wear other people’s identity and speaking their languages and belittling ours is like taking on another person’s shadow. Former Nigerian head of state, Lieutenant General Olusegun Obasanjo greed:
We got caught up in the conflict of culture, of trying to graft the so-called sophistication of European society to our African society. The result so far has been an abysmal failure. We are betwixt and between.
The religious practices (Christendom) imposed on us brought with them many alterations in our social and spiritual life, and made us think less about ourselves in all facets of life. The result has been a decline in our people rich cultural and values which has caused us to separate ourselves from our shadow in the glare of the setting sun. But our culture was where the shadow was not be separated from the self; the land where our enemies cannot blot out our names from the face of the earth; the land fertilized by the sweat, tears and blood of our ancestors: A sacred land which birthed our spirituality, culture and tradition.
What is Christendom?
It is a political system designed to take Jesus’ (who was Black) teaching out of context. Over a period of several centuries Western and Eastern Church leaders developed and preached an intricate political system in their mother tongue that suppressed freedom, justice, equality and economic opportunity. The Roman bishops justified and rationalized their control of the world with a “rod of iron.” Their belief system was introduced into us, and bad business people along with it came bad intent, “flying the flag” of Western religion, missionizing, colonizing, and hunting for power and wealth. It was this kind of religion that created the problems for our people by taking a hardworking and highly spiritual people into a disgraceful state of dependence on Western ideal and gods. This newer doctrine centered on the control and division of peoples into groups: us versus them to promote their religious influence which had led to death and destruction, a definition of western greatness.
Misapplication of the Definition of Origin
First, no single faith has a monopoly on the truth. For the records, Paul, the founder of modern Christianity was the defender of cultures or cultural relativism. Paul, immersed as he was in the Levitical Law and the tradition of his people, could hardly have felt differently about his tradition and upbringing that shaped his thought on other social and ethical issues of his culture. For example, Paul publicly rebuked Peter because he (Peter) wanted the Gentles to abandon their cultures/circumcision before welcoming them as Christians. "If thou being a Jew," Paul said to him, "livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as the Jews do. How dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"
Paul stated that he was taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers and was zealous in living that law (See Acts 22:3.) Does this sound to you that Paul was someone who would tramp on his tradition? Mind you, he was highly educated but he didn’t think exclusively like Peter and others as some of our “intellectual Liberians” want us to join them to call for the ban on sassaywood, polygamy, Poro and Sande Universities, and other cultural practices before they can consider us “educated.”
It might be pointed out that the factors that influenced, for example, the Levitical view of sex and procreation were practical. As the Hebrews prepared to move into Canaan, it was clear that they would need large armies for military conquests; and as they conquered the land and converted from a nomadic lifestyle to an agricultural economy, they would need a large and reliable work force. Therefore, just as other religious sects have incorporated their religious concepts (such as the Puritan work ethic into capitalism), their religious ideas were shaped to serve their demographic needs.
The emergence of the priest caste system of India to a vegetarian society is a classic example of cultural relativism. Before the Hindu became vegetarian, they were a zoophagous (meat-eating) society, perhaps for a long period of time. Then the notion arose, perhaps for some reason that they realized that killing an animal for food was unspiritual because it took away the animal’s life. Thereon, Hindus’ diets were never the same again. Does another culture have a right to argue that by becoming a vegetarian society, plant life became endangered and so our own life? Is the vegetarian society better off spiritually than the carnivorous society? So I ask: What excludes anti-sassaywood and polygyny from not going to “hell” like the “others” who some people think are condemned to the “lake of fire” because of their marriage system or sassaywood? Is this holiness or hypocrisy?
I am suggesting, however, that this is an excellent example of straining out gnats and swallowing the camels. Before labeling sassaywood and cultural practices sins, we should review our definition of sin. In fact, according to scholars of systematic theology, sin is defined as the deliberate rebelliousness of man against the command of God. Kraft argues that people’s perception of sin varies from culture to culture (Karngar, 1973). The essence of Kraft’s statement is that a code of ethics or moral conduct varies with cultures. But individuals must, in good conscience, believe that God forbids the act of sin.
In today’s world of prejudice, condemnation, rejection, discrimination and outright persecution of sexual deviants, it seems quite farfetched that anyone in his right mind would indulge in such a behavior if given the will to make a choice. The nature of humankind is sinful and cannot be changed. God meant for man to keep his old nature, so that man would be able to make decisions. In Christianity, the human nature dictates our testimony that we are not perfect in God’s sight without Christ. Two vivid illustrations of the Messiah’s human nature were his accusation that God had forgotten him while on the cross; although Christians argue that he agreed with God’s plan in heaven to come on earth and die for the sinners. Secondly, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he became very agitated and troubled and not only asked that the cup be passed away, but got angry with his followers for keeping vigil as he prayed.
I believe the problem that the Apostle Paul faced (Romans 7:14 -25) was that of his human nature. Paul, without doubt, had given his sinful nature to Christ at this conversion, but it was not his human nature. It was at the time of this battle that he perhaps remembered Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God.” When he cried out to God, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of the death?” The Lord came to his rescue, and Paul was able to say: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24 -25). Thus every man has a sinful nature for his religious worldview and his human nature for his secular worldview. The prophets and priests in the Old Testament did not help the situation of sins, either. The prophets took the ethical meaning of sin for worship. To them, sin was interpreted to mean some moral failure to discern between the standards of right and wrong in worship. They missed the true meaning of sin. The priests took the ceremonial meaning of sin in worship. To them, sin was interpreted to mean some ritualistic failure to follow the right religious practices in worship. But the Priests missed the true meaning of sin. It was at this time that God gave them the true meaning of sin in these words: “He hath shewed thee O Man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with the God?” (Micah 6:8). The Christian Jews took the ceremonial law to interpret sin to the Christian Gentiles, that “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:16). In traditional Africa there is no belief in original sin.
European missionaries used our culture against us to interpret sin to them that by practicing our tradition and culture, they cannot be considered as true, born-again believers in Christ. Consider the issue of dressing, for example. When someone became Christian, as a rule he is expected to decline wearing traditional grab and dress like a Westerner. Their interpretation of sin is followed by these biblical quotations: “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”, and must therefore put away his “old things” (II Corinthians 5:17) and “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (John 2:15). John explained, “For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only “begotten son;” that who so ever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Be poor so one can go to heaven is a wrong view. It takes John’s views out of context. While caring for our souls, God also endowed the earth with resources to meet our needs. To preach deprivation while the rest of the world abuses its resources is hypocrisy.
Sin is described as that which is consonant with violating a rule of morals or community norms because man or woman could not revolt against God; although the Christian reality of sin is alienation from God. Time and time again, we have not become very active in analyzing the “God says” in both Christianity and Islam. These imperialist religions have subtly prevented our people articulating our own unique vision of spiritualism. There is no scriptural condemnation for the practice of polygyny (Romans 3:23).
At this point, I must admit that it is a pity that religious and political colonization have caused “menticide” and “cultural genocide” to the point that many of our people know little or nothing about the language, customs, and traditions of the ethnic group to which we were born. “Internal colonization” must stop now in the new Liberia. The cultural sun of Liberia must rise in the new Liberia.
The Legacy of Western “Greatness”
How can Europeans who did not have any civilization until the post-Middle Ages be so great them our people who had built great civilizations? Let us turn to Charlemagne (742-814), Carolus Magnus (Charles the Great”), in Latin, famous as one of the greatest military leaders of Christendom in the Middle Ages, emerged in the West. History judged him to be one of the most war- inclined popes that ever lived. Why was Charlemagne called “the great” when so many thousand of lives were lost? To understand the word “great, “one should understand the historical civilization and militarization of the Western world. For Charlemagne, being “civilized” or being a “pope” meant that he had to destroy the world. Greatness was predicated on the leader’s ability to seduce, oppress, and maintain order under pure absolutism, which, in turn, could fashion the leader into “god” on earth. Being the first Germanic ruler to crown himself pope and the first Western Christian emperor, he revived the Roman Empire by perverting Christianity. Therefore, Carolus’ thirst for human blood and wars earned him “the great.” The term has nothing do with him being obedient to God or humanity. The influence of Western religion is not limited to the teaching of “God’s Word”. It included the secular teaching of capitalism with its concomitant usury, greed, exploitation and self-gratification of which our nation people bore the blunt.
The Polo’s Legacy Spread Christendom
The discovery of other cultures by European adventurers aroused their cupidity for conquest and booty, especially the other people’s lands. One heard and read of historians making and writing discovery claims such as Christopher Columbus’ discovering America or David Livingstone’s discovering South Africa, and so on. It is as if the “discovered” were lost or had no right to be where they were in the first place. The resulting damage is that some people really believe they own the earth and its people whose who worship and speak differently.
Globalization Western Religion
The years A.D. 1260-1271 witnessed the creation of trade routes between Venice and China and the impact was worldwide. Before Marco Polo crossed from Italy to China, his father, Nicolo, and uncle, Maffeo, were merchants who started their first eastward journey in A.D. 1260. They visited Constantinople and proceeded to the kingdom of the Great Kublai Khan. Not only did young Marco Polo become fluent in Chinese language, but he was also well educated and developed skills in other foreign languages, accounting, business, and religion, especially Christianity. By learning Chinese, an established practice for conquerors, he enjoyed respect during the Yeun Dynasty, which led to the Emperor’s approval of his twenty-two year tour of north and south China.
The four-year exploration led to his publication of its account entitled Description of the World. Like Livingstone’s accounts of Africa, Polo’s book opened European eyes to commercial opportunities and travel in faraway lands. Polo’s request for trade and missionary contracts in 1212 was the trademark which became the model for missionaries worldwide. His accounts of what he saw and heard of Chinese paper money, books on philosophy, politics, religion, and mechanical devices were widely disseminated. The precious metals, stones, ivory, jade, porcelain, silk, coal, and costly merchandize such as pearls and spices he brought back spread his fame and increased interest in eastern commercial markets.
Using Polo’s reports and information from Arab geographers, European mapmakers drew precise sea and land maps, as well as lines of latitude, which showed distances south and north of the equator to make travel easy. During the era from about 1450 to 1750, the “Age of Exploration,” Europeans moved out into the world, looking for “honorable trade.” Before long, they realized they could get more from the world through slavery and so they turned their “honorable trade” into Black enslavement for large profits. The world was never the same again with the coming of Christianization and these “civilizations.”
Livingstone Colonization Legacy
David Livingstone, the fist European “missionary set foot in East Africa in the 1840s while the first Black missionary Lott Cary set foot in West Africa. My discussion will be limited to missionary Livingston. In fact his trip to the Black Continent was almost an accident, not able to go to China because of the Opium War. He started by setting up station along the cost of the Black Continent and traveling the rivers. Later Livingstone evolved into strictly an explorer and cartographer and became engrossed with findings a trade route through the Black Continent using the Zambesi River. For the most part, “missionary” Livingstone was commissioned by the British Geographical Society to discover the source of the Nile Rivers. He was caught up with explorations to further European trade route (Livingstone & Livingstone, 1866). While historians agreed that he opposed slavery and sought to build a safe haven for enslaved Blacks, one cannot down play his equation of civilization and commercialization to Christianity. This act totally destroyed the Black culture. As the saying goes, “Sympathy is no substitute for action.” David Livingston is a part of the group of Kurtz who started as an ivory trader and turned into a solo expeditioner and raider. Besides, it was a companion of Livingston Henry Stanley who established the Belgian Empire in Congo that murder more than four million our brothers and sisters. Nowhere have we read expressing his disapproval of his fellow missionary’s act. Livingston, Kurtz and Stanley’s views on our culture prompted people like Cecil Rhodes to make Southern Africa his farmland (Rhodesia) and the people slaves. Therefore, David Livingston saying, “God had an only Son, and He made Him a missionary” was a religious window dressing.
Everything that our people showed the Scottish “missionary” he claimed to have discovered them so he renamed them. He renamed one of the Black Continent’s wonders of rivers “Lake Victoria.” In fact, there were other English Anglican Church Missionary and French Catholic missionaries in on the coast of Zanzibar in the 1800s with the same ultra motive. Other significant figures were John Hanning Speke, the first European who in contact with the Usukuma and Carl Peters who opened the way for the German to colonize what was to become Tanganyika by signing treatises that order the German Company to pillage.
Livingstone’s analysis of the people of the Black Continent and their culture and traditions (not really preaching focusing on God’s words) led to the exploitation of the people who were in their spiritual environment evolving, living life naturally, when the “missionaries” came and made frolic of their contact and cultural concept in an effort to negate their total consciousness.
The Creation of Civilizations
In truth, “civilization” is not divine but man-made and it dawned through the minds, sights and hands of the area inhabitants. However, people can copy, steal and invade other people for their civilization. The creation of “civilization” and its transportation meant a new religion superimposing on existing one. Unfortunately, for centuries, the creation of “civilization” has ossified as humankind has embraced the unchanging “total truths” of the competing world beliefs rather then proceed to advance spiritual life. By this, I mean God does not come through one particular civilization or through man-made law. God never blessed one race civilization and left the others. No conquerors brought “civilization”; they merely imposed their will and called it “civilization,” which meant refusing to consider the values of other cultures, thereby revealing a narrow-minded point of view that is glued to an inflexible, even harmful moral absolutism. This is why when some of us dare to talk about teaching in our birth tongue and culture in schools---some of our own brothers and sisters want our heads on platters.
Europeans, unearthing information about the world still has us trapped through written words; they colonized the image of God and changed it to their color and made their language the “Gospel language”. This change took place after the conference at Nicea I (325 AD) (Clarke, 1993). Here they could not separate this Black child Jesus’ teaching from global destruction and preaching of being cast into a furnace of fire, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Christianity was a spiritual way of life. Spirituality was what the world had before religion. Europeans could not tell one from the other. They created a destructive and belligerent doctrinal creed, a weekend religion, with a salable salvation, which a person could obtain by money and not through God’s mercy. The money for salvation was made vivid in 1517, Martin Luther, representative of the Pope, told the German people that if they paid money to the church, their loved one’s souls would be released from purgatory. The religion degenerated to such an extent that it was used to justify slavery—man’s inhumanity to man and many others are ashamed to give any credit to their culture, tradition and the men and women that brought them on this planet earth.
What is Religion?
My purpose to define religion is to separate God’s true nature of which no one knew than and now. Religion is a universal social institution, which took multitude of forms, thereby making it difficult to define. But believers of all share three things (1) Gods, (2) Ancestors and (3) Totems as the basic of belief. All religions have two commonalties. The sacred, which was anything that inspired, awe, reverence, and deep respect which was approachable only through ritual, such as prayer, incantation, and ceremonial. Second, the profane, which was regarded as part of the ordinary rather than the supernatural world such as: cross, rock, the moon, a king, a tree, or a symbol.
Religion scholars have divided it into Simple Supernaturalism, which was a belief in spirit or recognizing the existence of supernatural forces in the world. It is also a belief in supernatural forces. Second was the Traditionalist, which is a belief in ancestral reverence, the existence of God’s essence in all things as well as other deities. Traditionalists do not convert. Theism was the belief in God and was presumed to be powerful, interested in human affairs and worthy of worship. God dwelled in place called heaven. He sent non-believers to hell.
What is a Tradition?
Tradition was a way in which man attempted to regulate norms, values, and customs. It can become a cultural imperialism or fallacy of force: waging war against those who worship, dress, eat, and speak differently were the subjects of conversion. By the 16th century, the indentured service system had changed to the chattel slavery system through the lucrative slave trade. Supposedly, the legalization of slavery through the pope’s assientos was to make the African life better on Western plantations. So in the early sixteenth century, the Spaniards began to issue "licences" (from 1513) and asientos or "contracts" (from 1528) under which the state monopoly on the import of Blacks passed into private hands. The African holocaust (slavery) abounded when the Council of Cardinals convened in Holland in 1457. There ‘chosen people’ approved, as a righteous this notion, the enslavement of Africans for the purpose of converting to Christians as well as pillaging their wealth and labor. This satanic holocaust quickly spread and gained the sanctimonious blessing of the Pope. One can see how it became a standard policy of the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches that copycat it. In Jesus' name, for the next four hundred years, the ghastly traffic in human misery was anointed with the oil of pontifical righteousness. For example, a bull of Pope Nicholas 5th told his mercenary missionaries to “attack, subject, and reduce to perpetual slavery the Saracens, Pagans and other enemies of Christ, southward from Cape Bojador and including all the coast of Guinea.” During the Crusades also, Pope Urban II was notorious for calling for the liberation of “shrines in the Holy Land from infidels” (Fremantle, 1965 p.107) preached an equivalent of God bless you sermon because, when you survive the crusade, God bless you. His sermon was the catalyst for a sequence of over half-dozen wars. For example, Pope Urban was able to persuade the knights of Europe to join the Crusades by appealing to the knight’s religious convictions. The “Holy Cross” and the filioque ("and the Son" in Latin) under Christendom were dangerous. It became a symbol of those who sought to conquer the world and control its resources. It was no surprise that Charlemagne used the filioque in a challenge to justify his claim to be emperor against the Emperor of the Roman Empire located in Constantinople) between East and West and was the focus of the council of Constantinople which met A.D. 879-880. The core point is: By citing God as authority, religion can prove anything it sets out to prove. The mission of these wars and the use of the filioque were to conquer enemies of the Faith. These wars were fought over a “177-year span” and had an impact “in Africa as well as Asia Minor.” Under France’s King Louis IX, these Crusaders committed dreadful atrocities/killings (Fremantle, 1965). In places like Jerusalem, the Crusaders slaughtered an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 residents in 1099 A. D. (Oldenburg, 1966, p. 140); Durant (1950, pp. 591-592). The Spanish Inquisition also exterminated between 100,000 and 200,000 after labeling them "heretics" and Protestants sent perchance more than 100,000 women as "witches" during the Reformation. And between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, an estimated 1.5 million slaves died en-route during the trans- Atlantic journeying. In areas like Goree Island, Senegal, where fewer slaves (100,000) were traded as a result of Africans being uncooperative, humanity see an indication of African opposition to the sale of human goods. In a series of letters sent to France, slavers sought permission to create wars among the Africans to increase captures to be sold as slaves. Enslaving the African was an art of religion not any God with quantifiable sense. For the records the amount of 30- 100 millions of African slaves in the Americas signified the commencement of the most unscrupulous trade ever documented in the history of humanity (see history of the Crusaders).
As recent as in the 1940s, Germany’s Adolf Hitler capitalized on the “Holy Lance” as a universal source of world rule to advance his Germanic superiority theory. Hitler was supported in his mission by the Pope until he reneged on his agreement with the Vatican that would have recognized the Catholic Church. In 1945, the world was united to defend against Hitler’s ideology of Germanic racial superiority crusades that killed 20 million people, including Africans, Balts, Czechs, Dutchs, French, gypsies, homosexuals, Italians, Poles, Slavs, Ukrainians, ,and others.
These examples are spelled out to show that tradition imposed on other people can have some deadly consequences. Second, the African spirituality that is being described by Christendom has no records of killing these many people. While every man or culture believed it can find God’s forgiveness through his own tradition, it must not be imposed. This is why African spirituality doesn’t convert other people. Frankly, God has not ordained, approved, or chosen any one of man’s doctrines or versions of God over the other. The doctrines, norms, traditions, rules, regulations and legislation that made-up world religions changed from culture--all were intended to find the path to God.
World Religions From Traditions
Let look at Islam, for example. Islam was a monotheistic religion and tradition based on the doctrine of total submission to God called Allah, which was everything in the universe. God did not mention a particular religion. God’s people can learn a lot from the teaching of Islam: how to give our total existence to God, to be in perfect union with Allah as opposed to separating ourselves from Islam and bursting into derisive laughter when Muslims talked about their religion. Unfortunately, believers and non-believers in Islam spent their energy setting forth shouting matches of insults, death threats, foul words, terrorist intimidation, futile arguments, barbaric antics and rude behaviors. Beyond this rivalry, not only have we learned from Islam that Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed are prophets of God; therefore, the children of God.
Equally, in Hinduism, a Persian word meaning “Indian,” one learned about human affinity with the universe and nature in many forms. When we looked at nature, we saw God’s creation in different species of birds, animals, plants, and insects, big and small, in all shapes, sizes and colors. We also saw God as artist in the creation of human beings in colors, forms, sizes, which demonstrate to humanity God’s diversity and uniqueness. They strived to become united with Brahman, the external, universal spirit as opposed to being a perfect human being on earth or a happy heaven dweller. Their religion upheld the external law, which meant divine and moral laws of the universe and human race.
On an equal note Buddhism, founded by Gautama Buddha, opened its followers’ minds to God’s aspect of enlightenment, meditation; overcoming our suffering, overcoming our desire for the material world and learning to cease our desire for earthly things that bring us wanton sorrow, grief, and individualism. Like Jesus, his parents claimed that his conception was miraculous. On enlightenment Buddhism said that one was himself and master of himself. Therefore, one was not only creator but responsible for self-actions. If Buddha’s teaching had constituted parts of other world religious thoughts, human beings would not have been thinking that humankind was not one; nor as separated from nature, neither that others were the rulers of the earth. This concept was oppositional to our global community, which required symbiotic co-existence.
In Judaism, meaning Yehudah (“the Praised”), one encountered spiritual and ethical principles that humanity should learn, if humanity want to come or bring ourselves closer to conformity with God. The God of Israel was the God of Christendom and Islam, of which Judaism is the source of the two doctrines. If the teachings of authentic Judaism were embraced, humanity would not experience children killing parents and lacking respect for one another. Humanity would not also be seeking the “others” and destroying them because we learned from its tenet that converts are accepted, but not sought after.
With Confucianism, one learns about compassion, caring and giving, so that human selfishness cannot take complete control and dominance over the earth and its resources, and be at variance with other people of the earth. Humanity also learned how humans should act toward each other and be not only hearers of the words of enlightenment, but doers of the word of God. This teaching can lead us to perfection in human relationships, and keep us from exploiting our fellow human beings. If humanity had followed this teaching slavery would not have occurred.
In Taoism, one rapacious, all-consuming, destruction of the environment poses an inevitable threat to all other species, as well as to oneself, if not curtailed. This principle would bring one in line with living life in harmony with natural laws. When humankind was in harmony with nature, he managed and left it better than the way he found it. Taoism gave us a way of sustaining environmental and ecologically acceptable way of obeying nature (if you do not believe it see global warming).
Jainism brought humanity in line with ethical purity, kindness and love. The lack of acceptance of Jainism caused human beings to ignore the poor, to preach hate, to murder, to lie, to kidnap and to indulge in thievery. To this, Jesus said, “there is no greater law than love”.
In Christianity, humanity learned many things about God. Not only that the son of God became a man, died, and rose from the dead, but no begotten daughter. One was taught that God’s first friend was a man and a woman created as one body called Adam. Genesis also said that from Adam was “divided” into two or so came Eve, woman. They were disobedient to God concerning fruits they should eat and not eat so sin came into the world.
In Zoroastrianism, Manichaeis, from its oldest theory, taught us that the world formed from the cooperation of dual warring deities, one evil (darkness) and one good (light). This teaching gave insight into why the world was always in constant conflict. If people had embraced one another our differences would have been minimized.
In Sikhism, one of the world’s newest religions, founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1708), one not only learned that the attainment of salvation required the rejection of all fasts, rites and rituals. It claimed there are ten forms of Gurus (GU-means darkness and RU-means Light). Worship of gods and goddesses, stones, statues, idols, pictures, tombs or crematoriums were not their religious tenet. Only One God, the Formless, is glorified. If humanity looked keenly we can see that like other religions, Sikhism was strictly monotheistic- requiring belief in none other than One Supreme Being. Especially, its idealistic approach, which recognized the existence of the same heavenly light in every human being, rich or poor, high or low irrespective of caste, creed, color, race, sex, religion, or nationality. If humanity had embraced its teachings, “House of God” should be opened for all in this world without any prejudice or social discrimination. Besides, humanity has the opportunity to learn about the transmigration of the souls or the journey of the soul. During a burial, for example, Christians would hear the pastor say, “Go in peace.” Or “Let us pray so God can guide the loved one’s journey from the physical world.”
A Young Persian, Siyyid ‘Ali Muhammad, came to the promised Qa’im of Shi’ah Islam an independent Messenger and making way for the coming of another Manifestation (messenger) of God. In this newly stamped religion, the oneness of humanity, oneness of religion and our God endowed ability for independent investigation of truth was passionately proclaimed. The lesson learned was that God has created in humanity the power of reason that enables humankind to investigate realism which was a gift of God to us through our ancestors who were endowed with identical faculty of reasoning who exercised and investigated for the discovery of truth that one must accept.
There was a truism that was common to all religions: that was to know the attributes of God and will for humankind. My point is that no single religion has a monopoly to the path of God’s perfection. Various religions have evolved rituals and ceremonies to attain God’s will. But, if one objectively looked at the manner of worship and moved from behind our self-created religious perfection, all the methods, manners, and rituals were designed to strengthen human wills, so one would be in greater obedience to God. It is cleared that the problems of religious in fighting worldwide are the desire of one of these world’s religions to control the others.
Religion, however, was not something one participated in only on Sundays. Thanksgiving was not a celebration reserved only for the last Thursday in November. God did not care whether one goes to church on Sunday or Tuesday or even Friday, for God did not care whether one is Protestant or Catholic or Mormon or thin or obese or Black or European or “chosen” or “un-chosen.” Nor did God care whether people ate canned food or dance to guitar music, samba drum, wear long beards. God wanted holiness—simply to do God’s will in our own lives by treating other people right. Equally as important, grace was not given only at the dinner table in a few seconds of whispering; it was a way of life, which began from the time the farmer started cutting the bush, burning the plot, sowing the seed, harvesting the rice, and cooking the meal. Or when the hunter asked for ancestral guidance and protection before hunting; or gave thanks after a successful one. In our traditional way of praying, God could not be a God limited by time and by a single adoration. History argued that there are nine positions of adoration. Therefore, those who limit themselves to a Messiah salvation were not holier than those who made adoration of God a way of life.
The missionaries did not come to improve our people lives, but to change us. The point here is through our “angelization,” we renamed and lost our self-identity and the value of our mother’s tongue. For example, the oldest name for Africa - Akebu-lan, a word the Moors, Nubians, Ethiopians and others used to mean “Mother of Mankind” was replaced.” Akebu-lan was replaced the word Kemetic- (a Portuguese word for black Africa) as opposed to the Mother of Mankind (Yosef, 1971). The word “Africa” is equivocal and represents several opposing and convergent theories. Of course the name “Africa” was not found in the Bible. “Africa,” if it has a Roman origin, one can attribute it to the invading Romans during the Third Punic War (149-146 BC.) It was no secret that the name Africa did not exist prior to the Third Punic War. The destruction of Carthage now “North Africa” ushered in the term “Africa.” The Roman hegemonic establishment over the western Mediterranean under Julius Caesar populated the area with displaced people from war and the names Julia Cartha and Africa were used.
Evidently, Romans misnamed the continent Africa after a Latin word for sun or sunny. Other historians argue that Greeks misnamed the Mother of Land with a Greek word, Aphrike, meaning without cold. The view that Africa was without cold was misleading. On the one hand, while it was cleared that the name Africa originated from the Mediterranean region, influenced by Greek and Latin, some scholars credited the Berber also, with the name. On the other hand, Africa was named Abassania, but the name was changed from Akelbulan to Abassania. It is an African tradition for a stronger group to “break away” and build a new kingdom, whereby new kinship takes on the name of the strong leader under whom the group separated. Conceivably, the name Abassania was a corruption of Abyssinia, meaning “From the abyss,” an obvious Greek belittling. Considering that Ethiopia means “Land of Burnt Faces,” before being renamed Africa, a Greek blunder of the ancient Amharic word “Ifrikiya,” country, fatherland. This misnaming has been the European pattern, as we have seen in a name like the “Dark Continent” when the Mother land was not dark.
Before the coming of these “holy people” Civilization, Christianization, Commercialization and all these false promises, our people were perfectly contented with the way things were. For example, the land that became the Liberian nation was a series of traditional indigenous kingdoms whose people lived in city-states and believed in Creating God. It was referred to by to non-Africans as the Malaguatta Coast, Pepper Coast or the Grains of Paradise. Before the advent of Europeans the Grain Coast, which is present-day Liberia consisted of various ethnic kingdoms; they were: Bassa Kingdom; Belle Kingdom, Gola Kingdom, Klao (Kru) Kingdom, Grebo Kingdom; Krahn Kingdom, Mende Kingdom, Sapo Kingdom, Kpelle Kingdom, Kissi Kingdom, Pleebo Kingdom, Gbii Kingdom, Via Kingdom, Dei Kingdom, Gio (Dan) Kingdom, Loma Kingdom, Mandingo Kingdom, and the Man (Mano) Kingdom that reference their ancestors, acrobatic dance (“snake-baby dancers”) and used Poro and Sande Universities as their prestigious learning center for character excellence and others. These kingdoms became international trading posts that were visited by the Phoenicians and Egyptians as early as 600 B.C, and by the Carthagians in 500 B.C. before the birth of the Apostle Paul and others who invented their own version of Christianity.
As the missionaries’ message penetrated, the social fabric of the community took on a different look; duties the children once performed without question were now being ignored. Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart argued “Europeans were putting knife on those things that tied African together.” As our youths were speaking in a different tongue their worldview changed. Youth who did not speak and understand English or French became the laughing stocks. Parents did not want to have children who could not learn the “White man’s book” and English, the only language that God understood. Those then and now who saw the inherent danger of European acculturation and spoke out were dubbed reactionary, tribalists, and enemy of progress. To the religionists, Christianity mean creating deliberate laws intended at suppressing our intrinsic technological development. Today our traditional practice of sassaywood is banned without considering other positive aspects because Europeans and some educated Liberians said it undermined the national law of the land. Our fogging science is no longer. We now depend on the Chinese to give us cutlasses and butter rice.
Creation of the Elites
The “tokenistic” education helped create an elite- another mechanism of social disruption- encouraging youths to rebel against the custom of their elders. Children born to elite parents kept them away from “unhealthy countryside.” Some of elite children were so urbanized that we did not know the differences between goat and sheep. Even though the youth acquired “tokenistic” education and had become elite, Europeans did not recognize our education or accept the elite as equals. Evidently, they did not want to educate us to bring their “brothers and sisters” in Christ to their level of education, where they could critically and logically analyze the Bible to think our own thoughts. Instead these so-called educated among us were aliens between two cultures, unacceptable to the upper class and unwilling to maintain the core norms and values of our traditions. This aberration disrupted the unity of our society because the young minds were no longer being trained to win. Nor were we saving our past in memory of our birth tongue to pass it down into the worlds of new generations. Mostly interestedly, the “created elite” became people who bounced back and forth between Western culture and our culture depending the time of the day and with whom the conversed. The Bassa of Liberia described them as “amphibian” or a citizen of two nations who is always the citizen of the winning side until the winning side starts to lose.
The manner, with which the religionists trained us were to stop us from practicing our culture and to embrace urban life, without the industrial mechanism to support such a transition to make us dependence. Christians in America, Britain, and France were trained to be the haves and not the have nots.” The have ulterior motive for their interpretation of “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” was to create a hegemonic power, which has allowed them to pillage our mineral resources. They knew that out of the indigent will emerge the Messiah who can lift the “have-nots”. The ironic is that no church service or mosque in America and Europe ends without the bishop, pastor, reverend, imam, etc asking for donations.
Our Challenge for 21 Century
Indeed there are approximately 294,000,000 and 263,000,000 Christians and Muslims in on the Continent. The challenge for our nation is clear: Christianity is on the Continent to still, and it is not going anywhere, and it should not. My purpose here is to declare war on the false teaching of Christ, meaning those who misused his teaching to put bad taste in our mouth to reject our total identities. We must realize that what are being taught in the classrooms, and preached in the Church on Sundays are biased. These biased contents erode the concept of God. The preaching and teaching are biased because they present a Eurocentric point of view; it valorized Europe and degraded us. What would we discover if we turn a time-lapse camera on the past 500 years, or into the “500-year locked box?” We did find an enormous explosion of change, an exponential acceleration in the pace of history. Most strikingly, we would see a loss of our cultural and spiritual concepts. We would see we have not yet found a way to get out of this void, a malicious vacuum that prevented us from living up to our potential. I intend to prick the conscience of the Sons and Daughters of Africa-Liberia to measure Christendom: to see whether it has produced enough freedom of thought to stimulate creativity, innovation, and change.
The past 500 years, as a global people, we have witnessed the progressive looting of our resources and the retardation of the Continent all in the name of Christianity that sent our wells and confirms dried. In fact, we should resurrect the suppressed elements of our Traditional Religion and bring it to the level of World Religions and teach along with any world’s religions. Our belief system does not include bloodletting, and no God would give permission to another group to ride on the shoulders of another people forever.
The Acts of Challenge to Liberation
We were entrapped by honoring Europeans—calling them “lord Carrolton” “mother Mary” and “father Joseph” so and so, even if our people were five times older than those “business people in priest gowns.” Not all those with the names of “lord,” “father” and “mother” were holy. History is an orbital motion of events—everything that did happen is still happening, one way or the other. Our history is still being destroyed at this date, undercutting our preparedness for greater spiritual consciousness and economic liberation. To understand our unreadiness and unwillingness to now worship the God of our forefathers, one must understand what was stolen from us: our religion, our economic powerhouse, our culture, and the image of us in the likeness of God. Taking our culture away from us was like stealing our souls. As we began to think that our best way to heaven was to be all things most unlike us, we become things most unlike ourselves (see the 14 years civil wars). The religion we adopted, the education devoid of our culture, the form of government we do not understand too well, and paraphernalia that came with them became our jailer. Whether the intruders built a physical jail or not, a devalued culture and self image created a more binding penitentiary than any arabesque of steel bars the world can erect.
By refusing to practice our God given spirituality, to see our liberation and not taking it, we give the offenders a power they should never have had. Being ourselves could change the world, if we would allow our spiritual beings to flow in its natural path. When we restart our role as the conscience of the world, we, as a people will actually be built on the highest level of spirituality. Thereon, when the question is asked why have we settled on our forefathers’ spirituality? The answer has to do with our need to be ourselves as God had created us.
About the Author
Syrulwa Somah, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health at NC A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is author of several books, including, The Historical Resettlement of Liberia and Its Environmental Impact, Christianity, Colonization and State of African Spirituality, and Nyanyan Gohn-Manan: History, Migration & Government of the Bassa (a book about traditional Bassa leadership and cultural norms published in 2003). Somah is also the Executive Director of the Liberian History, Education & Development, Inc. (LIHEDE), a nonprofit organization based in Greensboro, North Carolina. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com