Someone sent this question to me to seek my opinion on the topic Is faith a burden in Africa?
As much as I would have loved to avoid the topic, I also figured my answering it could help some of the readers gain another perspective to faith which is a very important issue.
DEFINITION OF TERMS:
WHAT IS FAITH: When the word faith is mentioned it can mean different things. But in the context of this write up I will define it in two ways
1. Faith as a word can be used in place of your Religion like in the phrase ‘christian Faith’. Someone can say I am of the Christian faith. Such statement is referring to someone being a part of the Christian Religion. So one can also say ‘she is of the Muslim faith’, and so on.
2. Faith also means belief. Believing in the reality of something without first seeing the thing. The kind of strong assurance you have when someone capable makes a promise to you and you don’t doubt even if the person delays.
WHAT IS BURDEN: A burden is something that is like a problem. A disturbance of some sort. A thing that gives you reason to worry.
So the topic under consideration will sound like this: Is the Christian Religion (Faith) a problem (burden) to the people of Africa?
Or we can also put it this way; Are the teachings and practices of the Christian faith counter productive in Africa?
To an extent, I will say Yes because a lot of Africans in this generation derive their inspiration for life from their religion. Their entire culture and tradition has been redesigned to fit the teachings of their Religion.
This means their dressing, marriage patterns, food, beliefs, justice system, educational system and lots more have either changed or modified to suit the teachings of their Religion.
A case in point is the use of alcoholic drinks in the traditional marriage ceremony. Most Christians will never consent to such because their religion as it were teaches against it. But prior to this time when the Christian religion has not gathered so much influence, no one saw it as bad or evil to use alcoholic drinks in ceremonies.
Religion is ranked amog the three most important issues in Africa. It ranks as high as politics and corruption. The influence of Religion or a people can be as strong as that of a bad Government on a country.
The aim of this write-up is not to discredit religion as though it has not contributed to the overall well being of the African continent (because it has contributed and is still contributing a lot) but to show if it also has a negative effect on Africa.
SOME POINTS TO CONSIDER
Many factors contribute to the overall well being of a people. These factors most times, are interrelated.
Religion alone cannot improve or destroy a people. For Religion to make an impact on the people, it must be associated with other factors like corruption level, educational values, government policies, the economy of the people and the orientation of the people.
But I still maintain that religion is a burden because its influence on a people can determine almost all the other factors.
For example, Boko Haram Insurgents in the Northern part of Nigeria holds that Western education is not good. In such a place, education cannot influence the people because their “Religion” is not in support of it. That’s how powerful religion is.
To be fair to which ever Religions are practised in Africa, I think a bigger issue lies in the fact that the teachings of these Religions have been taken out of context by either people who are ignorant or over zealous people who want to profit from the wrong interpretations of the teachings.
Either ways, religion can be blamed because it was the root cause in the first place.
For Religion to be considered a burden it means that there are people who feel that Africa would have been better without the ‘imported‘ religions like Christianity and Islam.
For instance, some people feel that Christian religion provides a kind of cover for people to commit all sorts of atrocities because of the doctrines of repentance and forgiveness. They feel that the natural justice system of the African traditional Religion is stricter and would have made a lot of persons never to consider evil in the first place.
Some people feel that the doctrines of a Miraculous God and Divine Favour has discouraged the Africans from being very industrious as their ancestors were. And this has over time, made Africans lazy in the mind and body and depending on prayers instead of hard work and creativity.
It has also given rise to the increase of churches without a commensurate increase in morality.
Right now Pioneering or Heading a Religious Organization has become the easiest way to become rich in Africa because gullible followers are looking for answers from ‘God’ without using their brains to figure out the solution to their problems.
And over the years that Africa has been this Religious, there has been no meaningful changes in our continent. Yet instead of us to have a Rethink and Retrategize to figure out why things are not going well, we will rather get ourselves deeper into Religion.
Ask any African what can we do to save the continent and you hear them return the Responsibility to God. ‘God will help us’ they say. By the grace of God we will get this or that.
The regions (like Asia) that have made it were able to decipher the role of God and the role of Man. In Africa, everything is God, man has no responsibility, no voice, no plans, etc. This is not the teachings of the Bible but a wrong interpretation of the Bible.
No wonder Africa boasts of having the largest church Auditoriums, Largest single Denominations and the Richest Pastors while still having the global recognition as the most underdeveloped and poorest Region in the world.
Honestly, I am tempted to blame the Mis-interpretations of the Religion instead of blaming the Religion itself but I resist the temptation because the Religion should have it’s custodians that are well trained in it’s Tenets. Such custodians should be able to put the facts right per time.
For example if Christianity supports Hard work and discourages Laziness, somebody or some organization should be saddled with the responsibility to emphasize such if not the wrong teachings will be accepted as the right.
Also If Islam supports Peace and discourages Violence, somebody or some organization should be saddled with the responsibility to emphasize such if not the wrong teachings will be accepted as the right.
Almost every ill in the society can be traced to a misunderstood religious stand or doctrine. So if the Religious institutions do not take the pains to teach and re-orientate their followers people will still blame them for the problems in Africa.
Are there Continents that are doing well without the negative influence of these imported Religions? Yes! Asia is doing well without Christianity or Islam. Whatever was their religion from ages is still being practised and their countries are better for it.
Check out the countries in the Asian Region like Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, etc as against the countries in Africa like Ghana, Morocco, Angola, South Africa and Nigeria. The difference is so clear that people from Africa are steadily migrating to Asia and the West.
Their work attitude of the Asians depicts excellent morals and high level of training and discipline as against high level of indiscipline and corruption in Africa. No wonder the Asian Region is gradually taking over the world power status of America.
Africans have been termed as the most Religious people and yet the most underdeveloped people on the earth. Such a coincidence can not be overlooked.
SOME TRUTHS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY.
Many christian Denominations have grossly misunderstood the meaning of faith. But if they had engaged in a diligent search of the scriptures, it would have made it very clear that Faith goes with works. Or the proof that you believe in God is that you work like he works.
The Bible itself starts in Genesis with a working God. So there is no room for laziness that comes from a feeling of entitlement as today’s christians do.
Abraham, the father of faith, who was having visible encounters with God never had a reason to stop working with his hands even if his God could provide miraculous food.
Such was Abraham’s industry that he once rejected a free gift from people, offering instead to pay for it so that they will not say they made him great with their free gifts.
If the father of faith was industrious then who is teaching this generation of christians to remain in the church (praying) instead of working with their knowledge and skills.
In so many places in the bible, especially in the book of James, faith is described as incomplete without works..”that is faith without works is dead”
But here in Africa faith is to an extent used to cover for laziness..
Paul, the icon of the new testament in almost all his Epistles, emphasizes the need to be industrious both in spiritual matters and economic matters. He himself was a tent builder.
So instead of our belief to make us work, it makes us leave the aspect of work to God-expecting a miracle.
The wrong interpretations of the teachings of Christianity has also made Christian to refrain from active politics. This has led to christians having no say in who leads their countries hence the most corrupt and immoral people win elections in Africa and continuously plunder the continent with bad Governance while the christians have no say.
When Will We Get It Right?
To be continued…..
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