After Pastor Mensah Otabil’s missteps and gaffes culminating in the failure of his personal Christian Bank—which collected interests on loans; a sin—many rose to ridicule those who still stood loyal to the pastor. Obviously, the ridicule was aimed at Christians, and in some respects, it was aimed at mocking the religion that is Christianity. Much of the reaction to Otabil is rooted in the frustration many feel about modern Christianity (particularly Charismatic Churches) as directly or indirectly contributing to the continued under-industrialization of Ghana.

My dear, I hate to break it to you that Christianity, per se, is not the problem. Hell, religion is not a factor in the under-industrialization of Ghana. It is simply not!

The problem is straightforward: Too many people in Ghana, especially our leaders (I have met them), cannot decide whether they want to be Christian, or belong to a Traditional Religious Temple. For example, a friend confessed to me that he was Catholic, but he goes to Church carrying his great-great-grandfathers toe-bone in his pocket. “Why?” I asked. “Haha Haha… Narmer paaa,” was simply how he replied.

Fine. What has this wavering attitude or nonchalance about committing to a specific religious doctrine produced in the body politic? It has given rise to people who are either not fully committed to the doctrine of Christianity and Christian Culture, or people who are not totally committed to their village Temples. That is not to say this attitude is essentially detrimental to Ghanaians. But if industrialization that is, it certainly does not help.

How? You would have to trek back a few hundred years. Christianity did not prevent Europe from industrializing. Ma’at (and the worship of a Holy Calf) did not prevent Kemet from founding civilization itself. Islam did not prevent the Moors from giving the modern world modern mathematics. If you like you can read more about this here.

If those who claim to be Christian are truly committed to Christian Culture, they would be taught and they would made to understand that to industrialize means to exploit (often others!). Otabil, and his interest rates at his failed bank, understands this very well, although he fails to make it clear to his congregations. Christian culture actually helped Europe industrialize because it formed their “moral” foundation for western exploitation of Africa. (Europe is “chosen” by God to rule the world and Africa is cursed through Ham to become their slaves.) Christianity formed the moral foundation for European colonialism in Africa and it still forms the moral foundation for USAFRICOM and neocolonialism (for instance, the war against Islamic Terrorists!)

What would a true African Christian Culture look like? It will be one rooted in the idea that it is from Africa that all things begun—historically and civilization-wise. The primacy of Africa then cannot be questioned! And with that, Africans must have been chosen by the God(s) to conquer the world and bring enlightenment to the rest of the world. (We have partly succeeded in this regard—we have populated the world and we have brought it some civilization). This is what Kemet believed. This is what the Moors did.

In this regard, a truly religious African Culture—be it of a Christian bent, an Islamic persuasion or a Voodoo foundation—will be convinced that we have been chosen, and we should be prepared to take the world by the horns, exploit it and build another formidable civilization from out of the barbarism that the rest of the world is still clearly plunged.

Christianity is not the problem folks—nor is religion the issue. It is simply the lack of conviction about our place in the world and what we are here to accomplish. Our forefathers in Kemet had that conviction, the Moors had it, but we lack it. That is our problem: What are we here for—what do we truly believe is our place on Mother Earth?

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Amenuti Narmer
Narmer Amenuti (Dances With Lions) was born by The River, deep within the heartlands of Ghana, in Ntoaboma. He is a Public Intellectual from the Sankoré School, a Temple of the African Prophetic Tradition. He remains the only surviving speaker of Vebantu, the Ancestral Tongue to most West African languages. As a Culture Critic from the Sankoré School (of Critical Theory) and a Guan Rhythmmaker, he is a dilettante, a dissident and a gadfly, and he eschews promotional intellectualism. He maintains strict anonymity and invites intellectuals and lay people alike to honest debate. He reads every comment. ~ Success is a horrible teacher. It seduces the ignorant into thinking that they can’t lose. It seduces smart people into thinking that they have to win. Success corrupts; Usefulness exalts. ~ Narmer.


  1. Christianity is not the problem. The problem is mindsets as you have espoused.

    In one breathe, you have confused the meanings of Culture, Religion and Faith.

    Which is your definition of Christianity?

    Too many Africans, in our sad penchant for blame-blinging everybody and everything else but OURSELVES, jump to unscientific conclusions.

    We MUST quit blaming others for our sad choices.

    Did the European and Arab missionaries who brought us Christianity bring us a religion, a culture or a faith?

    Which have WE made it into?

    Were we a developed people before Christianity? What changed? What didn’t?

    OTABIL invested in a bank which could not raise enough capital from other investors. What has Christianity got to do with that?

    Christianity mean a man never fails at a challenge? Wow! That will be an insane misassumption.

    Let’s get serious with weightier matters.

    • Kwaku Bio, I am not sure if I understand your comment/expletives. It makes little sense to me except the part about Culture, Religion and Faith. Which you seem to think are mathematical equations with explicit definitions. This is typical, I accept, but it is dead wrong. Culture, faith, religion, or whatever is related to these, are simply ideas that flow into one another. These words seek to capture our varied understandings of how people navigate “belief.” They do not have explicit functions describing exactly what they are, and not. Which all together makes your pharisaismic jump to what is “scientific” and what is “unscientific,” if not altogether a conflation of the issues, then quite needlessly absurd.

  2. Kwaku Bio, I think you’re missing the point. Narmer agrees Christianity is not to blame. He seems to be refuting others who believe the religion is at fault for not industrializing, if that is your goal. And he does give the blame to African people. But he says they are blamed for their lack of a singular doctrine that they adhere to. They are too much accepting pieces of doctrines here and there that are pleasing to the senses, but not sticking by one. With porous philosophical beliefs, it would be difficult to accomplish industrialization. I think this is a weight matter that deserves all manners of seriousness.

  3. The argument is valid to some extent but lacks SOME substance to make the brother or sister of some relative ignorance in History to understand. I i had to do some fill-ins in my mind when reading.

    A concession that nearly threw your argument off course: “Fine. What has this wavering attitude or nonchalance about committing to a specific religious doctrine produced in the body politic? It has given rise to people who are either not fully committed to the doctrine of Christianity and Christian Culture, or people who are not totally committed to their village Temples. That is not to say this attitude is essentially detrimental to Ghanaians. But if industrialization that is, it certainly does not help.”

    Indeed this problem has direct influence on our industrialization. This funny religion, UNLIKE Ma’at, bred in us a childish dependence in “God” and stifled any desire to take charge of our lives.

    “How? You would have to trek back a few hundred years. Christianity did not prevent Europe from industrializing. Ma’at (and the worship of a Holy Calf) did not prevent Kemet from founding civilization itself. Islam did not prevent the Moors from giving the modern world modern mathematics.”…Christianity did not prevent Europe from industrializing.”

    Indeed, CHRISTIANITY was swept along a change it could not prevent. A new bulwark of Reasoning Men emerged which the Church could not tame from about the 1500. They Swept the church along and it was used as justification for enslaving others.

    The aid Christianity gave to Europe’s industrialisation was like it became enslaved in a wind of change. It didn’t led to it.

  4. Narmer Amenuti are you not assuming that Europe gave themselves wholeheartedly to Christian principles? But how then do you explain their involvement in slavery and colonialism? No people have ever given themselves fully to any religious teachings oh.

    • I don’t think I am assuming that Europe imbibed Christianity wholeheartedly. I think what I have attempted to say is this: either by conversion or through the comprehension of the value of Christian doctrine for parochial exploitative purposes on other people’s lands, the European elite cared less, or allowed Christian Churches to bloom. Either way they sought to (ab)use the doctrines how they saw fit in the foreign policy enactments: the missionary march for Africa was a scavenger hunt. Not an attempt to Christianize Africa per se.

      Although if the African truly believed that he was cursed through Ham, it benefited the European still. The European could loot more resources either way. In the final analyses, I am saying that this impetus provided by Christianity helped the European “scavenger” march (or missionary march) on African resources.

  5. As for a short essay as mine, it takes some studious minds to do some fill-ins. Through this, you, Hotep Abeku Adams, have raised a vital point for discussion. I have also dealt with this subject on a more expansive level in an earlier essay. If you have not read it yet, I have provided a link below. But let me make a quick point.

    It is true that Christianity was swept along European Enlightenment. It is true that the Church could not stop or impede the vast changing technological landscape during the industrial revolution.

    But, it is also true that Christian doctrine provided the impetus with which European elites justified the constant, sweeping enslavement and colonization of Africans and African resources. What is also true is that by implication, the African resources used for building much of Europe and the America’s, became the foundation that catapulted Europe into a new industrial era.

    Christianity may have been swept along the enlightenment; it may have tried to impede the march towards industrialization, but it’s fashioning or re-branding through the astute minds of the European elite, for colonization and imperialists, provided the impetus for the exploitation of others, which was necessary to sustain, maintain and push industrialization forward.

  6. Actually the first Christians who ventured to Africa were not the sophisticated imperialistic elites you reckon them to be.

    They were fairly naive adventurers who believed in a distorted lore about the Negus of Abyssinia. They thought that the powerful figurehead was a caricature called, “Prester John”. A black Christian warrior Prince who would help them find the true cross and finally liberate the Holy Land from the clutches of the Saracen infidel.

    Remember that racism, or rather political racialism (seeing as the former has been vulgarised by boneheads of late) was not a coherent doctrine until the Renaissance. The idea of Black inferiority had not reached Europe when the first couple of European adventurers popped into Africa.

    It would take the brutal conquest of the Americas and the decimation of the advanced cultures of mesoamerica for the full bloom of racialist politics to culminate in imperial racism. The “Hammite” doctrines were then hurriedly knocked together as a silly counterpoint to the emerging abolitionist movements of Europe.

    • You are not incorrect, which is to say you have a valid point. If this means that you believe, at least in form, that Ghanaian Christianity too, for instance, would evolve to reach a stage where our elites can wield it as a national tool for state building.

      Because my point is, the incoherence of doctrine, coupled with a lack of “Chosen” culture, or a lack of an “Exceptional” culture (which the American protestant ethic and American exceptionalism, for example, are based), will fail our march towards industrialization. Ghana, whether we are Christians, Muslims or Vodunists, cannot industrialize (not in the way the Europeans have, at least). I think, the lack of an energizing philosophy that drives a nation to build beyond themselves is lacking, that is, we lack a clear conviction of our mission in the world.

      But I take the point that perhaps we are stuck at the infant stages of the natural evolution of religion towards that goal in the nation state.

  7. It is sad when the only history folk choose to refer to is what is written, with all its opinions and distortions.

    Many parts of Ghana have not been touched by Christianity. I hope they are super-developed. Travel and see.

    Who said all Europeans were Christians anyway?

    You believe the hallowed ignorance many a Ghanaian religionist worships is representative of what Christianity is?


  8. The rules of banking r almost the same all over the world. If lenders dont pay, the bank will cease to be. A bank is a bank not a church and nothing prevents Christians from owning banks. Opinions r like noses as l always say so ie ur view and am entitled to mine.

    • I accept your opinion. Although “interest rates” were sins in the early Christian Banks. Today they still are, in form at least, among the Islamic Banks.

  9. I think what Narmer Amenuti is trying to put across is that from the moment Christianity entrenched itself in Europe It was used as a tool and even a reason to colonize and exploit the world. It was their spiritual duty, so to speak, to Christianize the world so as to save the souls of the damned. Christianity was thus a tool for oppression and exploitation which ultimately led to their industrialization and economic development.

    IF the African Christians are Christians then they too should be guided by the same philosophy of aggressive exploitation instead of accepting the position of perpetual timid underdogs in the world. Why are we not colonizing and exploiting in the name of expanding Christ’s kingdom and saving the damned? Why have we infused a philosophy of passiveness to take hold of our version of Christianity?

  10. Kwaku Bio and Markus Kennedy Katey, you both miss the point. What Narmer is attempting to say has been reiterated by Atiga and Narmer himself several times. But you keep sidestepping the necessary reading comprehension. Another comment from one Kwame also has this to say:

    “Kwaku Bio, I think you’re missing the point. Narmer agrees Christianity is not to blame. He seems to be refuting others who believe the religion is at fault for not industrializing, if that is your goal. And he does give the blame to African people. But he says they are blamed for their lack of a singular doctrine that they adhere to. They are too much accepting pieces of doctrines here and there that are pleasing to the senses, but not sticking by one. With porous philosophical beliefs, it would be difficult to accomplish industrialization. I think this is a weight matter that deserves all manners of seriousness.”

    My dear friends, take your time, and read a little deeper. Ah!

  11. Also Bright Simons: “Perhaps in future studies there’s also need to reassess certain terms and definitions that are taken as given; with the most prominent being the term “missionary”.

    We have tended to adopt the meaning given by Europeans that missionaries were persons whose sole or major aim was to spread Christianity among the African (heathen). But even as Amenuti points out the Asante King couldn’t be persuaded that the Europeans could leave their “cozy” England just to accomplish such a flimsy motive as religious conversion…unless of course they were completely delusional!

    However, a deeper assessment of the activities of the likes of David Livingston suggests that the pre scramble for Africa missionaries were first and foremost geographers and mappers under the cover of “explorers”…and they operated their surveying activities from “mission stations” hence the coinage of the term “missionaries”…and it’s no surprise that a good number of the mid 19th century missionaries were also working for the “Royal Geographical Societies”…

    But the motive of the mission stations was to map out the land and the people that lived on it and their way of life and status and sources of their wealth…in readiness for the landgrab!

    Nevertheless, for these missionaries to survive in foreign lands they needed to engage in economic activity with the natives of the land and since they didn’t want to get bogged down in daily agricultural economic activity for survival they opted to trade their religion hand in hand with their medicine paraphernalia whose alleged healing powers was used to imply the “superiority” of their gods and the need for natives to provide the day-to-day needs of the missionaries who supposedly had a closer relationship with their “higher gods”…

    So by and large the religious motives of the missionaries of the mid 19th century were largely economic i.e. for the interest of their self preservation…but their main aim was in my view the mapping of Africa…and subsequently it’s no wonder that the “Partitioning of Africa” went so smoothly…

    Perhaps after this partitioning their role as cartographers diminishes but the economic motive of “spreading their gospel” remained and it was remarkably pretty sound business too. In exchange for their religious mythologies they in return acquired huge chunks of land and spheres of influence and up to this day they’ve not only retained the claim on land but also have a stranglehold on the beliefs and education of the natives of the land….and they don’t plan to let go anytime soon…if anything they’re tightening their influence by popularizing their “civilization” especially to the women and youth…” (~Mkuki).

  12. In another phrasing: The cutlass is for weeding the farm, or for protecting it, or it is for making war and taking another person’s farm, or all the above. Your choice!

    Religion is either a tool or it is not. Use it as you wish, but if industrialization is what we seek, we definitely do not need Jehovah’s Witnesses – who receive guidance from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, about not attending university – in our dear country. If industrialization is what we seek, we certainly do not need Christians who believe Heaven is more important than planet Earth.

    If industrialization is what we seek, then we need a cohesive religious ideology. For there’s no doubt, religion as a tool is quite formidable. But that tool needs be sharp, steely and cut-throat.

  13. Solomon Gomez. How am I missing the point? My response is to Atiga’s summary to which Namer himself has appended his signature. I have not even provided any reasons.

    As for Namer, this is typical. Make a bunch incoherent and unfounded statements with the aim of projecting his extreme fanatical Afrocentrism. He packs it all in a casing of pointless verbosity hoping to intimidate Christians into not responding so he can feel like he did some important for mother Africa. Then come back and say it requires studious minds at the sight of the smallest challenge . It has worked well so far…but look for another strategy… This one is losing steam.

    • I cannot make the head and tail of what you just wrote. If it helps, you sound like Hermann W. von Hesse, beating about the bush as hard as you can. But the rabbit has escaped, you have yet to realize it. If I were Narmer, I would accept your ad hominems and entreat you to study even harder. For all purposes, you do have a long way to go. You need it.

  14. Mr. Markus Kennedy Katey, spare us your tartuffeism. Aba! What about an opinion piece is intractable to you? Need I write it so boldly you can’t miss it? You are so dense you can’t even get beyond the grammar to fully grasp that I have actually not bad-mouthed Christianity. But I can, if you would rather have that argument. Although that would be a digression from the import of the essay. Which is “Christianity is not to blame for Ghana’s under-industrialization, if that is the goal.” What I have said as a contributing factor is the rampant lack of a singular doctrine, that is the lack of a truly Christian culture (rooted in the exceptionalism of the “chosen”) that all can adhere to. We accept “pieces of doctrines here and there that are pleasing to the senses, but not sticking by one. With porous philosophical beliefs, it would be difficult to accomplish industrialization.”

    So this is how intellectualism works. If you feel differently about the above, you can pen a readable (if comprehensible that is?) opinion piece yourself. It can take three flavors: (1) The presence of disparate philosophical beliefs are non-factors in industrialization, or (2) Christianity itself is to blame, or (3) None of the above. In which case, you can make an argument for another (set of) reason(s) you deem fit to enlighten the rest of us about Ghana’s under-industrialization. Otherwise, zip it!

    • Holy Moly! LOL. Well Markus Kennedy Katey, you see how you missed the point entirely? Or is this still messing with you a bit? I can explain some more, if you wish.

    • Good, very good! What Narmer just wrote means that the ontological and anthropological individualism of the West doesn’t square with the predominant socio-economic-moral framework of Africa. That is the wrapping of Christian doctrines within an individualistic framework (for instance, salvation is only between God and the Individual) do not square with most elements of my Ga culture say.

      That means, adapting Christian ideals can be done more efficiently if the doctrines are evaluated to serve the interests of the people who “are to be saved.” Further, you don’t unravel deeply ingrained pathways of meaning, individual identity, and cultural affirmation in Ga culture for instance overnight or without a fight. The need hence for a truly revealing Christian identity is in place, that is if industrialization that is. For to industrialize a nations needs the means of exploitation, not salvation. And that means must be under-girded by a collective doctrine: not disparate ideologies about Heaven.

    • Ontological and anthropological individualism of the West doesn’t square with the predominant socio-economic-moral framework of Africa. Blofo sane!!!!!!

      • Blofo sane l3, blofo sane!

        Now, I’m not aware of any literature out there that blames Africa’s failed attempt at industrialisation on Christianity/religion. If there are any, I’d like to know.

        If anything, the relationship is the other way around, somewhat: the failure to industrialise has created pervasive unemployment and hopelessness among many Africans (not all) and made them easy prey for the Bible barons (or vapire pastors) who now prance around the continent in their pink zoot suits and pointy shoes. It’s a whole mafia gig now.

        Every morning, I watch the stream of people, almost all of them women, walking briskly and purposefully towards the Achimota Forest for what is likely all day prayers, and ask myself: would they be going there if there were factories requiring their services throughout the day?

        In fact, the sight of them reminds me of similar movement in other countries where trains pull into stations every morning and disgorge thousands of people who then make their way, purposefully, to factories and offices around their cities.

        There are three broad reasons why industrialisation has failed to take off in Africa (I call it “the hanging fire of Africa’s Industrialisation):

        1. It was designed not to industrialise. The colonialists saw to that. J. S. Fry and Sons, for example, which was producing chocolate in Bristol, England, with cocoa from the Gold Coast, actviely opposed the setting up of factories in the Gold Coast.

        Manufacturing, banking and shipping were all structured to exclude Africans and prevent industrialisation.

        Nkrumah countered that with the Industrial Development Corporation of the mid-1950s, which helped with the establishment of factories throughout the country, especially after independence.

        To counter the financial monopoly of the colonialists, he formed Ghana Commercial Bank. And to break their trading monopoly (which they had sought to maintain by bringing in Syrians/Lebanese – better them than Africans), he created GNTC.

        True, some factories had problems (but which factories, private or public, never had problems?). Nevertheless, he had laid a solid foundations upon which we could industrialise. And into the mid-70s, these factories survived, if not thrived.

        Which leads to the second cause, bad domestic economic and industrial policies. (No time for elaboration).

        And third, protectionist policies by the West and more recently India and China, which put zero tariffs on raw materials like cocoa but escalating tariffs on semi-processed cocoa (paste) and fully processed cocoa (chocolate etc.). This discouraged processing/industrialisation even as we voraciously took in their manufactured/industrial goods.

        I don’t see how Christianity in any form contributed to this. If anything (and I speak here as a non-Christian – I’m a deist), some of the early Christians, independently of the colonial authorities, could be said to have contributed to our industrialisation and broader development, directly or indirectly.

        They didn’t just set up schools, most of which survive (and which some of us attended) but they set up vocational schools as well to teach skills in construction and automotive repairs. The Basel Mission certainly did.

        Today, the only 4 full-fledged private universities in Ghana (Akrofi-Christaller, Valley View, Central University, and Trinity Theological Summary) are all ownes by religious bodies. We may quibble with their overall objectives, but beyond religion they do also provide secular education for people who may not have obtained it in the crowded state universities.

        We shouldn’t confuse these Christians or religious bodied with the latter-day hustlers who boast not about the number of schools or universities they have built but the number of Range Rovers, mansions, and private jets they own.

        If we’re looking for someone to blame for our failed industrial policies, these would make fairly good scapegoats – although I think, as I suggested earlier, the relationship may be the reverse.

        Tswoa ni omanye abla woh!

    • Namer let’s not pretend that I have not shared my opinion on your post. I did not use that many words and you have said it is allowed. We could also allow you to pretend that you did not make unfounded allegations against Otabil. Or that your essay as you called it does not have sarcasm written all over it. We could also crown you defender of the Christian faith seeing that you have made it your life miss ion to defend the church. The zip part I am still trying to figure out.

      You should have said it was a grammar showcase. I would have ignored the substance of your post and its nuances completely and applauded you for a fine job.

  15. Mr. Markus Kennedy Katey, I have no interest in exchanging expletives, or engaging you on a primordial Ghanaian sarcasm about “grammar vs. substance.” I get it. If someone wrote an essay and I was emotionally distressed from reading it, I might result to such lines. So, now I get your beef, which is, to me, a pound too small to take it seriously. But I shall spare you some respect.

    I honestly could care less about Mensah Otabil, but I will keep you in mind next time a write about another human being (although Otabil in particular may have been hand-picked by God Himself), knowing full well that he can do no wrong in your eyes. That said, let me defend my point about him.

    Capital Bank, a Christian bank, failed. This doesn’t have to do with Otabil, except that I deplore the newfound Christian habit of charging “interest” on debt (that is in loans). Even the Vatican charges interest on debt. It is un-Christian! But which is what Capital bank did, not distinguishing itself from all other “heathen” banks! I have once written a short essay about this, and I provide the link freely for your candid perusal. You would find in that essay that the uncanny, exploitative origins of “interests” on debts are as serious a matter as all forms of human enslavement. Again, if you were truly Christian, you would hate the idea of “interest” on debts too!

    So, I have no problem with Otabil founding a bank, or even making it work. I have a problem with a Pastor who doesn’t understand the historical origins of debt and who obviously ignored the original translations of debt and any interests of it thereof in the Lord’s Prayer! In sum, if I had to digress from the original intent of my opinion piece, then my beef is with Capital Bank, not Otabil, per se!

  16. The present government seems to believe, just like Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast, that building a national cathedral is an important aspect of national development. The main item the president happily mentioned at his independence day national address was how he had laid the foundation stone that morning for a national cathedral. He did it as if that was even more important than his one district one factory electioneering slogan. The unbounded faith Ghanaians have been putting in religion as a saviour may have been getting even national politicians into thinking development could come through worship. If Europeans and their leaders had such an attitude, Europe would never have industrialized!

    • The instances you have mentioned are merely consumers of a religion tailored abroad for them. We haven’t yet taken our Christian conviction to the next level, that is to philosophize about our (higher) place in it, and with that the need to fashion an exceptional culture putting us above every other, which is everywhere missing. In that way, we could have the responsibility to lead the world, show the way and herd the planet in a better direction. Those leaders you mentioned have yet to understand this vital calling of the Christian doctrine. They wallow in its heavenly promises, not on its will to power here on Earth.

  17. Narmer Amenuti makes some important points. am interested however in the conflation of indigenous superstition with christian doctrine and practice and its possible impact on industrialization and overall sustainable economic development. how do these superstitious attitudes so deeply embedded in collective psyche and expressed latently or overtly in attitudes inform the successes or failures of development policies?

    • You raise a valid point. I can’t say I know the answer to how the conflation of indigenous superstition and christian doctrine impacts industrialization, except to say that the conflation produces a farrago of mismatched ideologies.

      Which brings me to my point. That the lack of a converging theme, or the lack of a foundational ideology (or myth) mobilizing the social consciousness is lacking. Take for instance a pure christian gospel perspective, from which the genius (or myths) of the American Doctrine, at least at its founding, i.e. the protestant ethic and American exceptionalism were mined. In Ghana for example, we have no such collective enduring legacy of ideology or myth. Take for instance the power of the golden stool among the Asantes, but which today elicits no such fervent calling, even among the Asantes, for nation building and defence.

      A man could pour libation to the golden stool and go to church. This conflation is cognitive dissonance that illuminates the extent of a lost art within the mind: of finding/building national myths capable of mobilizing social consciousness towards a common goal. To industrialize, and to stay there, a nation needs this, and this alone. And I think a conflation of traditional myths and christian doctrines impede the process. I think. How do you see it?

      Plus, if you haven’t yet seen my rather long essay on this subject, you can check it out here:

  18. I enjoyed your piece! prescient as always! I just wondered if there are in addition to exogenous factors of colonial/neocolonial machinations driven by manifest destiny and white supremacy any other possible culture-derived explanations aside from lack of powerfully unifying set of myths? If the premise that need informs action is it safe to aver that the notion of industrialization and its accompanying social order as prescription for african ‘backwardness’ was little more than superfluous during first contact? we are keenly reminded by history that nations and empires rise and fall in power and influence at varying points along a continuum of geopolitical struggle triggered not only by exogenous factors but internal events as well. we are also reminded that at first contact with europeans many nation states were at their nadir while others at their zenith. the often enervating and catastrophic impact of loss carries throughout the defeated partys collective psyche and sets them back decades if not centuries in reconstituting itself and aggregating power. I happen to believe that the primordial root of africa’s current state can be found in our immediate history prior to first contact. tragedy of internal conflicts in the continent sapped states of all vitality and desire to protect what could otherwise have been easily and successfully defended. this internal turmoil begat an interminable tragedy the likes of which humanity has not known for millennia. power and its overwhelming projection at will and unfettered was lost to most nations in africa and the empires were in shambles facilitating and clearing the way for slavery, colonization, and neocolonialism. u cannot industrialize or take ur people to point of social and economic progress if their collective psyche is still traumatized. it will require a cathartic process and pschosocial reorientation whereby built up collective gestalt is strategically released to fire innovation and progress. so yes, I believe that external factors and forces have and continue to define and determine the extent of our ‘development’. but I also believe that we remain a deeply traumatized people and our condition predates first contact with ‘modern’ europeans. establishing the what, why, when and how things went wrong is critical to defining a new narrative into the future.

    • Exactamente! We agree completely that the notion of Africa’s under-industrialization as any indication of the “inferiority” of Africa (was and) is gratuitous. The idea was especially minted to justify European ethnic cleansing in Africa, land grabs and the exploitation of Africans and their resources. Along with this, the history of Europe was built up, centered and forced to become the only source of the diffusion of enlightenment to the rest of the world. Clearly, modern history and anthropology continue to situate the source of the Greek Miracle—which at first hand wasn’t actually even accepted as “white”—more and more, in Africa and the Middle East.

      That said, you cannot be wrong that the state of African consciousness was also (if not altogether, at least in pieces) held in a state of “for-the-taking.” I couldn’t agree more. I started an essay (I am yet to complete) to explore the impacts of the Arabic invasions from the North, the “tragedy of internal conflicts” which led to the wiping out of a collective consciousness, and which would have been necessary to forestall the European expansionary mission to Africa. What I have come across so far—and you are free to speak on this as well for my own edification—is the terrorism of the burning of writing cultures. The invasion of Timbuktu for instance was associated with the burning of ancient African books and eradicating the writing culture there (although it didn’t completely vanish; some folks managed to bury many ancient books). Further, in Alexandria, we are reminded that Napoleon engaged in a similar more devastating act—burning ancient scripts, destroying ancient monuments, in a way to traumatize the “collective psyche.” Africa’s internal conflicts are also complicit in this regard, no doubt. The slave trade (culminating in the terrorism of colonialism and colonial education in particular) further turned this connection with a writing culture on its head, finally cutting the historio-intellectual umbilical chord of modern Africa to ancient Africa.

      Else, how would a nation develop a collective myth, maintain it and garner the energy needed to resist foreign influence—without an authentic writing culture rooted in the ancient literature and traditions of the states? Hence, the “cathartic process and psychosocial reorientation” needed, I think, is a re-discovery in Africa of our authentic writing cultures, and in bringing them together (where a convolutionary process perhaps would suffice). If not, we must make up new ones. The Samurai were helped by a writing culture in rooting out what they thought was an insidious new influence on their country. We cannot build up a “collective gestalt” to “strategically release” the fire of innovation and progress with languages and writing cultures that are un-African. It took me 25 years to speak English (a fifth language) and 5 more years to write it. This is a waste! We only need look at North Korea, no matter their faults, to realize the impact of doing science, for instance, in one’s own conscious imagination of self—a writing culture in one’s own languages. We also can look at East Africa and their collective progress in modern times, compared to West Africa, to realize the far more mobilizing impact of a written Swahili on their conscious imaginations.

      All that to say, you cannot possibly be wrong that our “condition predates first contact with ‘modern’ Europeans,” and that such a deeply traumatized people could only have been susceptible to foreign influence (ideologies), how much more foreign invasions? With a hearkening back to discovering ourselves within the context of our writing cultures, I believe we can establish “the what, why, when and how things went wrong” in order that we could critically define “a new narrative into the future.”

    • U are spot on about the written word for it encapsulates and preserves the historical memory and consciousness, myths and aspirations of a people. without it there is no historical or mythical anchor, nor a galvanizing ideology to spur along progress. this is why the need as u correctly suggest to develop a lingua franca at the very least regionally is so necessary for present and future generations. we must as a matter of urgency reclaim our history and record it in written form in our native languages for posterity. more power to u on your efforts in than vein.

  19. Narmer Amenuti in this article, as well as C.S. Hamidu and others in this very inspiring comment section, have made some very salient points here that I think really is taking us back to some fundamental questions that undergird all other subsequent queries. Narme has worded it best in his final question here: “What are we here for—what do we truly believe is our place on Mother Earth?” This is where the dialogue must really begin and not end. Every human being comes with tasked with the onus of uncovering this primary existential question. This is so not only individually but, as a result of our interdependency as a species, was the first reason to form societies that provided security and strength through cooperation thereby advancing what we came to understand was the answer to this all essential question. Indeed it is the quest to grapple with the gravity of that answer that formed the basis of the once world wide original culture of humanity seated in Itoure/Mizram/Ancient Egypt. As C.S. Hamidu has keenly noted, by the time we experienced the European colonial era (“colonial” coming from Christopher Colon) our societies were already in some ways teetering on the edge the proverbial precipice. The various branches and ethnicities of our people dispersed into the various territories they came to occupy had, as in any human dynamic, began to find some tensions between themselves over land resources, not much different from today. Centuries before the Hapi (Nile) valley had already been through over 1400 yrs of cyclic invasions from Arab, Eurasian and North East Asian looters. You must understand that the Pharaoh was king of kings of all the entire earth not just the Hapi Valley. Europeans and others though that to conquer this throne gave them the right to hold that title, not to mention access to the vast stores of treasure, grain, and overall abundance of these lands. Every leap year the Pharaoh had to prove himself fit to rule through certain tests. If he failed… well let’s just say the outsiders didn’t understand that no one in their right mind today would sign up for the job considering what it meant and the real weight of the responsibility. The Pharaoh made his funeral arrangements the day of his coronation. So, at some points there would arise the need to “enstool” a new Pharaoh. He would travel the whole continent of Africa for a full four years visiting the various other Kingdoms and getting their blessings etc. It is during times like these that the outside invasions would occur and the looting would commence. Until, one Pharaoh decided during the time of the Roman invasions, it was time to send the Priests, Healers, Wisdom Keepers, Scribes, Artisans etc. away from the Itoure and to put the Sahara between themselves and the marauding barbaric looters from the North. Shortly after this occurred around 200AD in the Roman occupied Egyptos you could be killed for speaking Medu (Hieroglyphs) far less writing it.
    All that to say this is what happened to our original script it went underground with those priest, healers, scribes etc. It is through the secret initiations preserved by those priests that humanity’s original language survives and is where you will find the answer to the question you posed Narmer.


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