Is religion an obstacle to Africa’s growth and development? Thousand times YES! That’s a joke. Before I get on with it, let me put out a much-needed caveat; I believe in a Creator, but I don’t understand and know much about this Creator.
The reason I believe in a Creator is that whichever way you dissect the universe, it seems to me it can only have originated from an immaterial, timeless, all-powerful being, etc. By definition, God.
In that sense, I recognise the Creator’s imprint or essence in all things. This, however, doesn’t mean that I exempt myself from passing commentary on whether religion has any usefulness for Africans.
God and Religion are not the same things. And, in this article, I am not arguing the truth of religion. I am critiquing its utility in an African setting.
Religion is an obstacle to Africa and African’s development and growth because:
1. It creates barriers preventing corporation for mutual benefit
2. It creates a mental state that promotes a subservient attitude towards lighter-skinned people…an expression of self-hatred.
3. It instils low self-esteem that hinders Africans socially and economically and politically.
We also see how it inhibits the development of personal potential by restricting the exploration of self, whereby people are seeking salvation externally rather than doing it for self and with the community.
Due to time, the next couple of things I’ll cover will be focused on Christianity. This is not to say Christianity is false. I’ve seen how many lives have been transformed after being born again. I’ve seen abusive husbands changing into loving husbands, and I’ve seen how the Church has provided for the poor and needy.
With that out of the way, they say an image is worth a 1000 words. A statement not to be taken lightly as that really is the basis of the obstacles I’ve mentioned above. Whether we know this or not, it’s images that shape our reality.
So, we have the image of Jesus (I am not arguing Jesus’ existence here – I think he lived and walked on the earth) that started off blonde, blue-eyed and gradually as the Arian concept of superiority started getting stick due to Nazi ideology, his looks conveniently changed.
What historians know for certain is, the picture of Jesus was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, and it’s argued that he either painted a relative of his or an Italian nobleman at the time.
In the midst of all this, what we know for a fact is that in all these representations, no one really knows what Jesus of Nazareth looked like. So, why is his image still in the church?
An esteemed black scholar, Henrik Clarke, said, and I am paraphrasing, ‘If the image of the European Jesus is removed and replaced with a black one, most black people will stop going to Church’
I agree. Do you?
The same power we associate with an image, we extend to those who resemble it. Psychology 101. It explains the difference with which we treat black people and white people; whether it’s at an airport, or coffee shop, and the rush to carry the European’s bags rather than ours, or the over the top smiles and favours extended to them in coffee shops and restaurants.
You think this image has nothing to do with that?! The image of Jesus has occupied our houses (the most important area) ever since birth.
What that means is, psychologically we’ve all grown up to afford it respect. No question about that. It’s so imbedded we are not even conscious of that.
Look at the picture, from the Jehova’s Witness publication, of the people depicted in Heaven? Can you see anything disconcerting here? There’s not a single black person in Heaven. If this was any other magazine, Black Twitter would be screaming, “Racism”.
One also can’t wonder but ask what’s the relationship between religion and corruption in African countries? Why is it that some of the most religious countries in the world are the most poorest and almost corrupt?
Look at countries like Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Benin, Sudan, Nigeria, etc. they are very religious and corrupt. Why is that? One should expect that religions should be making Africans better. Isn’t this what religious groups teach?
Religion has made us passive and unpragmatic in our approach to life. People over-believe in miracles, sleep in churches instead of working, give their last penny so that they can get a 100 fold blessing. That leads to unintentional laziness.
In Africa we have our leaders tweeting, #letsprayforZimbabwe etc. The African masses tweet similar things, too. If prayer could end corruption, unemployment, prostitution and all the other vices that African experience, none of these issues would be a problem in Africa. But that’s not the case. We have to stop and think about this with an open mind.
I am also of the opinion that religion is unfit to solve Africa’s problems because whenever you see the church conducting crusades, they hardly ever go to the suburbs where, in my opinion, there are the most corrupt people, but they go to the poor neighbourhoods and it seems to me the message is, “You are in this situation and have all these vices because of sin. Repent and you shall be saved.”
However, the root cause of where Africans find themselves isn’t sin. It’s a system that was created by the colonists – a system that renders the black man a second class citizen on the continent of Africa.
I believe religion is an obstacle to Africa’s growth and development. More than that, religion is not equipped to deal with the issues Africans are facing now. How does religion practically deal with racism? How does it deal with unemployment? Hunger? If religion could do that, Africans wouldn’t be amongst the poorest in the world.
More from Mind Wreck: Do All Religions Lead to God?
Author: The Broken Native
The Broken Native is a social runner, a budding poet, loves football, and basketball, reading, music (all things Indie and flirts with a bit of Jazz), and Philosophy.
And, er…ahem…he appreciates a glass of cold gin and tonic.