Though Africa is not an exception when it comes to belief systems, the continent seems to be taking religion to far extremes. Because of its varied ethnic tribes, Africa is also home to various religious offshoots. Having adopted and adapted to other religions, the continent seems to have added more confusion as far as religion is concerned. Being such a powerful determinant of how people think and see life, religion in Africa ought to be closely studied and its effects upon development analysed whether they are for better or for worse.
Among the counter progressive practises that are popular in Africa is polygamy, a practise were one man can have more than two wives. This is common with the apostolic sects who pride in having many wives and children. This usually results in fighting among the women and the home set up becomes a hot bird of strive and jealousy. The fighting often cascades to children who take it up to fight in their mothers’ corner. This has an effect of wrongly moulding the children who usually become socially intolerant due to the needless antagonistic spirit developed in a polygamous set up.
Among some of the popular beliefs across the African culture is the faith in their dead. They believe that the dead can manipulate circumstances in favour and because of that, strange things are done under the guise of appeasing the dead people’s spirits. Though widely debated, it’s a fact that the died can’t help the living in any way. With some of them having died as failures, there is no room that they can give anyone wisdom to prosper.
Christianity too, has been widely accepted in Africa. However, its interpretation remains a debate which has resulted in many denominations splitting due to divergent views. A lot of energy is expended in factional fights, money is lost to gospel entrepreneurs and con-artists who prey on the docile believers easily made to assume that the self-proclaimed man of cloth can dish out blessings especially in financial terms.
The African continent must be made to understand that to be a believer and to be imbecilic are two different things. To believe does not make you insane? Many people have lost houses, cars, money and lots of valuables to con-artists disguised as prophets and pastors. All this leaves one wondering if ever this continent will go forward with such misguided religious euphoria and fanaticism easily holding them mentally captives?
It is true that worship brings with it blessings from the Almighty but there is manifest too much neglect of duty by the believers as they eagerly anticipate blessings. But all should know that prayer does not substitute duty. There is no substitute for hard work in the success equation and Africans should know that. They must quickly learn this lesson and make sure whatever their belief system, it does not take away the place of duty. Otherwise some of the problems facing the continent are self-inflicted. Many problems in Africa are considered as originating from the spiritual realm but the truth is a plethora of the continent’s challenges are simply of manifestation of the people’s entrenched poor value system. Trivial matters dominate people’s conversations while weightier matters requiring much thoughtfulness are left unattended. After all has been said, it is imperative that If Africa as a continent is to go forward, it must unclench certain religious dogma that is retrogressive. It must do away with weird backward beliefs that serve no purpose.
Its religious value system must evolve to be a useful tool in shaping the road to a better life. The true essence of religion must be evaluated. People must not lose their sanity because they are believers. There have been few legislative instruments governing religious practises in Africa but in light of countless irregularities happening within that domain, it sounds a prudent idea to come up with legal measures setting up frameworks within which they are to operate without antagonising the freedom of worship principles. An independent body must be set up to conscientious people not to be complacent and docile but be guard alert to religious prejudice that is rampant in Africa. Con-artists disguising as prophets and pastors should unreservedly face the full wrath of the law to dissuade perpetrators of religio-crimes. Very deliberate effort should be organised to emancipate and transform African people to think properly about religion and belief system.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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