NTOABOMA—When I was younger, the Christianity I struggled so hard to accept was not the Gospels per se. The Christianity I fought so hard to reject, was not even the acclaimed mission of the Christ for mankind (if one believes there’s any such thing). It was Christendom and the European white supremacist Christian mission in Ntoaboma that I despised above every other. From Martin Luther’s hatred of Africans to Dake’s love for American Segregation because of that hatred, I stood in the face of European terrorism (colonialism and slavery) and I rejected every White Jesus and all his disciples. I still own a copy of Dake’s Annotated Bible thanks to an early astute introduction to it by a dear brother, Sowah. So, I know, obviously what it is I speak of.
But, over the years, I became enamored by the likes of Benson Idahosa, Duncan Williams, Eastwood Anaba and such. My own kind. I was interested, yes, in their interpretations of the Gospels, given the narrow way the message had been delivered in Ntoaboma by European terrorists for two hundred years (with such colonial jingoisms like: “Blacks were cursed and Whites were here to save them”). More, I was interested in how these modern African disciples of The Christ felt the God they worshipped, and I was enthused about how they professed Their Christ.
Anyone who understands how relentlessly organized the Presbyterian Church is, how fiercely organized the Catholic Church is, and so many others like them, would quickly appreciate how difficult the thought was to start a Church from under a palm-shed in Ghana or Nigeria. But these men from Ghana and Nigeria did, and they did it quite successfully against all the odds, when most felt it was impossible to start churches from Africa. They did, and no matter their faults set a new standard! But who amongst us has never been at fault—isn’t this the power of the Gospel they have preached?
Through the likes of Idahosa, Duncan and many others, the power of the charismatism of the African soul was once again resurrected within the Gospel. These men should be celebrated, not because they were Christians, or preachers, or men of God (whatever that means), but for the fact that they had the balls, the bravura and the revolutionary verve (unlike most modern African men) not to only stand in spiritual contradistinction from the European Missionary Terrorism, but to invoke in the minds of spiritual leaders in Africa that it was not impossible to re-organize our spirituality in any form or shape against oppression, against depression, no matter the havoc already wrought on the minds and hearts of our people by colonial terrorists and the neocolonialists that came after them! These men followed in the footsteps of the long arc of the African Prophetic Tradition for spiritual liberation after most Africa Religions had been painted with broad brushes of sheer evil both by Christian Missions and Islam before it.
When I was a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. Now, I see in the mirror dimly that the Christianity so many people in Africa fight about and for, is not even the one in the Bible! It’s their faith in a new beginning coming up! The Prophetic Tradition. It’s their faith coming up! A necessary new beginning away from the suffering wrought by European terrorism on African lands—whether this is on a personal salvation basis or on a community-wide approach to breaking free; free from both the terrorists and those who have become their useful idiots.
In African tradition, salvation is fraternal, not individual. This is The African Prophetic Tradition. So, although I struggle with the personal touch of the Christian Doctrine (that salvation is between a man and his God), I accept that faith is everything—from the small things to the big things. Plus, I find it difficult to find evidence for the idea that faith is not everything! Faith defines the bounds and the limits of our dreams and aspirations. Faith is why we are here and why we accept to live no matter the odds. No matter our struggles. That is why it has the power to both liberate the individual and the community at large. No matter my struggle to accept it the way that it is, I am constantly reminded that faith rides above religious doctrine, above ideology and above the disciples of the African Prophetic Tradition themselves! My struggle is to accept those, no matter the details of their spirituality, who have laid down foundations for us to bounce around with copious amounts of faith in the African spirit, hoping for a brighter African future.