In his letter in SN of September 5 last, Tacuma Ogunseye threw down a gauntlet to all African Christians. He says “A people’s self-hate is best demonstrated in their individual and collective rejection of their God or Gods – Deity or Deities being a reflection of themselves. The only mass of people on earth that suffer from this disease are Africans who have experienced centuries of chattel slavery and colonialism. …any African that believes solely in a `male God’ and rejects the idea of an equal female God is experiencing cultural blindness and self-hate. Embracing the idea of an equal female God is not a question of Eurocentric gender equality but a profound acclamation of an African worldview reflective of our spirituality, developed and practiced before slavery and foreign occupation of the Motherland. Rejecting the African philosophical and spiritual principle of duality for a foreign Euro/Arab male supreme god is a manifestation of African self-hate in the most profound way.”
Those Africans who have taken their time to examine the black condition must be applauded and are deserving of the highest respect of the African community. However, they must realize that in the marketplace of ideas no one has a monopoly no matter how brilliant the vendor. In that other pantheon of religion masquerading as science, which has produced its own princes, such as Richard Dawkins, the refutation by the one whom “science” regards as the smartest man who ever lived – Albert Einstein –while it is usually ignored – is an excellent reminder not to follow blindly the cocksure representations of others, no matter how scholarly the appearance. Einstein, while not subscribing to a personal god, said categorically that the world he saw could not be the result of blind chance.
Thus, all ideas must be challenged on the basis of the evidence that becomes revealed. Take the Lemba tribe in South Africa for instance. These very black and otherwise phenotypically African people practice Judaism, have always told people that they were one of the lost tribes of Israel only to receive the usual derision. Then came genetic examination. It turned out that not only did their blood match in genetic profile those whose blood type is known and recognized to be Jewish, but their split of the male members into the priest class and those who did not, matched the said split in Orthodox Judaism. In other words, independent of the world of known Jewry, they had managed to preserve a system of designation of the priest class that matched other Jews. Again, in other words, their “Cohens” showed evidence of being descended from a single male some three thousand years ago – the same time the Bible claims to have set up the Jewish priesthood – the descendants of Aaron.
It is in this new universe of genetic revelation of who people really are and are not, that Tacuma throws down his gauntlet to all African Christians.
It turns out that every imposing looking nave of this sturdy looking Buxtonian structure collapses under the tremor that has been unleashed by discoveries over the last 20 years. Who is an African, what is to be represented as an African belief system, what is an expression of self-hate, indeed, even what is Africa.
According to Tacuma’s implied criteria for what is to be classified as African religion, the Lemba’s belief systems which they have preserved for thousands of years do not qualify.
Again, on examination, it becomes apparent that Tacuma’s understanding of what is African is the characteristic of certain groups of Africans who have apparently maintained their forms of religion for thousands of years and more importantly, his understanding of African beliefs is static. In his mind he has consigned the state of being African to a phenotype exhibiting a set of religious behaviours at a certain point in time. It is this abstract representation of Africa that he really sets in opposition to diasporic Africans.
Again, his assumptions about diasporic African religious behaviour relies upon the Caucasian religious and other behaviour as similarly set in the past. But most remarkably, he seems unaware that in setting up this raw dichotomy, he has trapped himself in the same syndrome exhibited by what I prefer to call Caucasian conceit (not white supremacy) – the representations of one’s strengths as exclusive to people who are phenotypically Caucasian while marketing the things you stole from others as your own. The black man or woman who does not know the history of the Caucasian has bought this propaganda and continues to see himself as the perpetual victim. Such black people walk around with an Albatross around their necks. They need not.
Take for instance my reading from today’s Christian History: “Anskar transferred to another monastery, Corvey in modern-day Germany, ..There he met worshippers of Odin and learned about the religion of the Norsemen…However, the Vikings were not easily converted. They boasted about their oath breaking and revenge and considered Christian virtues “soft.” Truth-telling and forgiveness did not impress them. Anskar attempted to change their culture …With more zeal than wisdom, Harold had tried to convert his subjects by force and was driven into exile. .. Anskar converted Herigar, an important royal counselor, who proceeded to build Sweden’s first church in 832. Other converts followed. ..In 834, Anskar left Sweden to become bishop of Hamburg, overseeing Greenland, Iceland, and much of Northern Europe. The Vikings, however, destroyed everything he had built at Hamburg, including a precious library.”
Here we can see that Europeans had the same struggle as Africans did with religion imposed upon them from outside. Let’s continue:
“ Anskar’s Christianity was practical. … redeemed slaves…, “
What was that about slaves?? No, not black slaves, white ones. It turns out that white slavery was common in the civilized Europe we now know.
Through the miracle of the internet, anyone can avail himself of facts which historians of the past would have been unaware of. We now know that hidden in the Russian language are copious records of slave raids conducted by dark skinned people including Turks against Eastern Europeans. Yes, including rape, pillage, taking away of and separation of families, etc.
Do you hear anyone calling Europeans “sons of slaves”? Nope. So you say (like I myself did when I first learned about this) “Ah. Nonsense. Could never be like what black people went through. Even that seems to be false. The Barbary Pirates from Africa (based in what is now North Africa) took away the entire community of Baltimare, Ireland as slaves that ended up in Tunisia. Only 3 ever got back to tell the tale. Are Europeans called sons of slaves? We won’t even mention the etymology of the word ‘slave’ and which group of Europeans it got its name from.
Again, Australia started as a colony for thieves. Are white Aussies called today “sons of thieves?” You get my drift. The black person lightening his or her skin is perhaps to be included in the manifestation of self-hate. So what about the white man exposing himself to cancer to get a sun tan? He must be given a pass, right? But let us return to religion.
We now know that the image of Jesus we have is the result of Caucasian conceit. We now know that Michelangelo painted himself. A recent recreation of the image of Jesus as he would most likely have looked, being a Jew from the so-called “Middle East” (a large part of which is Africa renamed by British Caucasian conceit that goes back only as far as the 19th century) shows a swarthy man with dark eyes and short hair.
Caucasian conceit needs to represent everything good as its own. Now Tacuma demands that all true African men and women represent God as black. Somehow the irony of that makes me smile. Count me out. But in service to what motive is he on this urgent errand? It is pursuit of “a profound acclamation of an African worldview reflective of our spirituality”. As shown above, the monolithic “spirituality” that Tacuma has in mind is definitely not the Lemba’s spirituality, and they are African. It is not the spirituality of millions of African Christians and they are also African.
Europeans also emerged from centuries of chattel slavery and they managed to produce a cultural tendency to Caucasian conceit – not perpetual victimhood. In fact, it appears that they have been so successful at this propaganda that they have managed to induce the feeling of inferiority in black people.
I believe that those who level the charge of self-hate against black people must stop the double standards; that the claim that “African” culture needs to reflect some groups in Africa in the 18th century is simplistic to find my most charitable word. I also believe the black man has trapped himself by falling for the propaganda of Caucasian conceit by inducing in himself a feeling of inferiority.
The situation can be rescued not by creating god in our own image to suit our vanity – perhaps requiring Jesus to be crucified in each ethnicity and nationality – but by teaching our people that the secrecy imposed upon slaves by requiring them not to learn to read has been abolished and that they have now imposed it willingly upon themselves – by not reading – about themselves and others.