Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Can Imported Religious Beliefs Save Africa?

Article from AFRIC editorial
In the battle for the complete decolonization of the African continent, in addition to political and economic liberation, Pan-Africanists often forget one of the most obvious when one realizes that the black man has lost most of his cultural personality in the face of imported religious beliefs. Islam and Christianity, which were imposed on us by the colonizers, have progressively blended into our traditional religious practices to the point where they have become embedded in the ancestral culture of the continent. The Senegalese Cheick Anta Diop, had sounded the alarm against imported rites and beliefs when he noted that in the face of the danger of ignorance, Christianity and Islam are the two most massive weapons of mass destruction. Silences that divide weaken and destroy Africa.

The fight against the excesses of these two great religions present on the continent and inherited from colonization has not reached its climax yet, although other religious chapels had begun their establishment on the continent. Derived from Protestantism, the proliferation of so-called “awakened” churches on the African continent for twenty years has largely contributed to the questioning of the contribution of its religious beliefs to the development of the continent. Faced with their rapid progress and their methods which are all questionable, many actors quickly rose to scream against the loss of Africa if nothing is done. The most illustrious of them was the Rwandan president, who quickly realized that the salvation of Africa could not come through foreign religions. For him, Africa needs more development through work than prayer. To confirm his words and his fight, he then equated the strong presence of religious agencies in his country to a “mess”.

Although the contribution of imported churches is not negligible in the personal development of believers, it is important to note that, collectively, Africa has not made much progress since its advent.

Imported religious beliefs and infrastructural development of Africa

How can we understand that Africa, which is one of the least developed continents in the world, is among those with the most believers? Worse still when these beliefs are not those inherited from their ancestors but rather from colonization. How to understand that an African who has no work, no activity, pays huge sums to men of churches to be able to get a life after death when he cannot even feed himself properly? These could be used to implement a project whose results should be visible in the face of poverty and underdevelopment that undermine the continent. How to understand that Africans prefer to spend most of their time in religious services to pray rather than actively participate in the construction of their continent? To all these concerns, Rwandan President Paul Kagame realized that it was imperative to act as quickly as possible and to provide a solution. Faced with this growing phenomenon of laziness, and to prevent it from spreading any further into his country, he ordered the closure of more than 700 religious “dispensaries” inherited from colonization in Kigali. This strategy, which was intended to encourage many more Africans to adopt the work culture, was due to the fact that he did not understand how the number of imported religious dispensaries could be much greater than the number of boreholes in is country or the number of factories. His actions are clearly justified today, due to the fact that Rwanda has become the first country to achieve self-sufficiency in drinking water on the continent.

Imported religious beliefs and the importance of a legal regulation

For foreign religions to be able to favor the emancipation of Africa, it is imperative that they function under a defined framework. This regulation must be concerned with the creation of churches, the training of leaders and even the setting of an imposition.

Foreign religions in Africa are forums that gather many members. They are sometimes equated with schools whose objective is the inner preparation of believers for a pious life while respecting the aspirations of others. Then, as for our conventional schools which serve to train the citizen, the creation of these churches must be framed by laws requiring them for example, to provide a certain number of guarantees in order to obtain the authorization of the governments. This regulation could also focus on the imposition of theological training to all the leaders of these churches as is customary for some. Governments, by this gesture, will thus end the wave of false prophets that are born every day to rip off vulnerable populations attracted by blind healings and fomented miracles.

As for the regulation related to taxation of their income, it is difficult to understand how until today these foreign “pharmacies” continue to make large sums of money on the backs of poor Africans in the grip of idleness and misery, yet they still do not pay taxes. Given the blow that these sums represent, it is time for lawmakers to look into this.

Imported religious beliefs and social networks

The harm created by some imported religions on the African continent poses a great danger to the psychological health of many of its citizens. The advent of social networks has not been a very precious help in the fight against the excesses of these religions. On the continent, it is clear that religion is practiced even in these new channels of information. Recruitments of new flocks by unsavory pastors are for example through channels like Facebook or WhatsApp.

This has made many Africans to prefer this simple ways of getting money, such as getting up in the morning, typing a publication and waiting for it to produce gains, rather than finding a profitable activity to accomplish during the day.  Publications such as “if you think god is going to make you a millionaire today, tape amen” find more and more takers in the ranks of Africa. The contrast is that many people who do not believe in activities believe that at the end of the day they will have a bank account filled with the manna falling from the sky.

Prayer groups are also formed through social networks where, against regular contributions, pastors pray with you and send you blessings. These religious excesses, observed via social networks in Africa, testify only to the gradual loss of Africans in the face of a phenomenon where the leaders keep a complicit glance to continue to preserve their unduly perceived benefits.

Imported religious beliefs and complicity of governments

In a continent where the unemployment rate is very high and where scourges such as corruption and embezzlement are the order of the day, some governments tend to let these beliefs inherited from colonization flourish. The goal of these governments is to let people be more concerned about the future life presented in the scriptures than about their present well-being. In those countries where “heavenly commerce” is prosperous; many people are less likely to be concerned about “Res Publica”. Faced with the difficulties then imposed by governments, many Africans are reluctant to find adequate solutions by themselves and phrases like, “leave everything to God” are much more adopted as a means of solution.

Article from AFRIC editorial

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