Megan Africa easier for them, but in the
Megan Penney E110 10/24/10 Religion in Africa In Africa, before the white missionaries came, religion involved spiritually worshiping ancestors. Once these whites came though, western religion like Christianity was pressed onto the Africans. While some say that this pressure of western religion on the Africans was for their salvation, or even for power, it was really just pure ignorance on the side of the whites.The people who invaded Africa meant well at first and were supported by the government because it would help make controlling Africa easier for them, but in the end the Africans were never truly understood to be equal because they evolved in a different sense than the whites, which shows how this whole religious issue in Africa is simply from ignorance.
In the novel Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, western religion is similar to a virus with the symptoms of hypocrisy, fear, and oppression due to how it conflicts with the original, happy standards Africa had in the past.Also in the poems, “I Have Been Here Before” by Don Mattera, and “A Plea for Mercy” by Kwesi Brew, western religion is deemed as a unsuited match for African culture, showing how ignorant the whites were when it came to experiencing new cultures. In Purple Hibiscus, religion is prevalent in different ways, but represented by a character, Eugene, that oppresses his family through violence by using the ideals of religion. Christianity is not just used as a form of oppression and violence through Eugene though, but as a conflicting standard in African society.An example of this is how Eugene disowns his own father because his father was a traditionalist and therefore a heathen in Christianity’s perspective. Traditionalists in Africa worshiped the ancestors and lived their lives through laughter and happiness. Christians worshiped through fear and oppression with the idea that suffering leads to salvation and heaven.
One part of the novel that shows this is when Kambili, the main character who tells the story through her POV, confesses to enjoying herself when watching a traditionalist ceremony during confession.In response to this, the priest says “You understand that it is wrong to take joy in pagan rituals because it breaks the first commandment. Pagan rituals are misinformed superstition and are the gateway to Hell” (Adichie). This statement shows that even if doing or watching something makes you happy, it doesn’t mean it’s ok, which goes against the happy, carefree nature of Africans.
By bringing western religion to Africa, culture was taken away just because the whites didn’t personally like it even though they didn’t have to live it.Through this unnecessary pride and ignorance, Africans like Kambili’s father were brainwashed to go against their people’s nature and turn their backs on those who continued to carry on the culture of Africa. Singing was also condemned as negative by strict Christians like Eugene. Song was in a way part of the spirit of Africa. Through song, parables could be expressed along with emotion. Without this, not just the culture was removed, but also the African’s way of expression and storytelling, which was also deemed as heathen because the stories weren’t Christian and the expression wasn’t through God.In the poem “I Have Been Here Before,” the authors stated how the Africans basically started civilization and were always on the same level of the whites, just in a different way.
Mattera shows this by saying that his “footsteps shaped the landscape” and that he “tamed the buffalo” (Mattera). This poem shows a different idea than Eugene in Purple Hibiscus though for the author claimed to have seen gods image as black, not white. “Long before the snake came to my children, I looked at God’s face and saw my image in his eyes…”(Mattera).This shows that even before Christianity came to Africa, they were spiritual people of a different, not lesser stance. This poem shows how Africans were in ways more evolved than the whites due to how in tune they were with their lives and how happy they were living real lives not based on what was simply right or wrong.
The missionaries who brought their religion with them didn’t let themselves see that the Africans were spiritual people of an equal nature, but were ignorant and only saw what they wanted to see; heathens who needed to be saved because they were different.This rejection of what is new and unknown is seen throughout history, especially in Africa where white countries tried to dominate. In the other poem “A Plea for Mercy,” the author complains that the Africans tried to embrace western religion and in turn were oppressed and kept from being happy even though the whites claimed that this is how they have to live in order to live a positive life.The author, Brew, states “we have come to your shrine of worship- we the sons of the land” (Brew), which exemplifies how Africans were around first and should not have had to worship another’s shrine, especially when it oppresses the happiness of the people. The ignorance of the whites is shown by how they couldn’t wrap their thoughts around the idea that people of other beliefs should be embraced as fellow human being, no matter what they believe, as long as they are happy. Christianity is supposed to support loving others, but instead in Africa turns into a game of do this, be that.
This oppression of happiness is shown when Brew states “Why should we the sons of the land plead unheeded before your shrine, when our hearts are full of song and our lips tremble with sadness” (Brew). The fact that happiness was stolen away from the Africans illustrates how people vary and shouldn’t be required to conform to other society’s ideals. The whites were so ignorant and full of pride that they couldn’t see the African’s as equal even though they were the ones who created civilization and should be revered and respected.Ignorance is what creates negativities in a society for it is the ones who cannot accept others for who they are who end up hurting those they wish to change. The ignorance of the whites who invaded Africa was so great that is went alongside government oppression and managed to partially kill African culture, which also happens to be one of the biggest influences in the world. Instead of bringing salvation, the missionaries brought pain, oppression, and loss to the people of Africa, showing how the theory of what western religion was intended to do for Africa was not purposeful or spiteful, but just full of stupidity and ignorance.
Citations Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Purple Hibiscus: a Novel. Chapel Hill: Algonquin of Chapel Hill, 2003. Print. Brew, Kwesi.
“A Plea for Mercy. ” The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry. Ed. Gerald Moore and Ulli Beier.
London, England: Penguin, 1998. 101. Print. Mattera, Don. “I Have Been Here Before. ” The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry.
Ed. Gerald Moore and Ulli Beier. London, England: Penguin, 1998. 366. Print.