Terror: The most important weapon of conversion

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BEFORE doing anything to change a person, you must first of all get to know him or her deeply and the social institutions in which he or she participates and the way he or she celebrates the philosophy of life of his or her people. In short, you must, if you intend to succeed, know the culture of the people. For how can you convert anybody if you are totally ignorant of what you are converting them from? Second, after you have thoroughly and sympathetically understood his or her culture, and you are still confident enough that what you have, that is, a philosophy as lived and celebrated, is an alternative, better than his, then that alternative culture that you want to convert him into should be very clear to you, so clear that you can convince him or her of it being better than his or hers. The Christian missionaries were pathetically ignorant about the thing they wished, worked so hard, shed blood and even died to convert the African from. They never stopped for a single moment to ask, what is this thing that we want to convert the African from? Did the African have some principles, some worldview, social philosophy on which he or she organised his life or her life. If he has, what was wrong with it? Why had the fellow to be bribed, wooed, enslave, imprisoned to forgo his philosophy of life? Yes, the African had to be bribed. When the missionaries gave medical service, when they offered instructions in new knowledge, they expected a reward in the shape of their patients and students becoming Christians. Expectant mothers who went to colonial missionary hospitals had to swear that at the birth of their babies, they would be baptised as Christians, but this method of conversion by coercion practised by Christian missionaries is contrary to what Jesus himself preached. “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to accomplish them.” — (Mathew 5:17). One of the strangest things is that Christians characterise their God as a man who finds much joy from killing people. Was there no other way for the Almighty God of Israel to save his chosen people from the pharaohs? Why kill children? What wrong had they done? Let us all remember that it is Christians themselves who describe their God with pride as a very jealous fellow, who lies in wait for the great final festival of fire for those who do not convert to Christianity. These will be thrown into everlasting fire where this God would listen to their untold agony without changing his mind. Here is another example of how Christians characterise their own God as a cruel one. During the time of Jewish slavery in Egypt, God instructed that the blood of the paschal lamb to be sprinkled over the lintels and side posts of the doors to distinguish them from those of the Egyptians who would then be slaughtered without mercy. There was also a time during the so-called plague, when Egyptians, and Egyptians alone, suffered all manner of troubles; frogs, gnats, house flies, death of cattle, boils, hailstones and locusts. And then there was the strangest type of total eclipse of the sun which lasted three days, but what is unbelievable about this is that only Egyptians saw the darkness. “All the people of Israel had light where they dwelt.”— (Exodus 12: 29-30). How scary for those who oppose the God of Christiandom? Another scary tactic to convert people to Christianity is what happened to that great tourist who started off as an anti-Christ, Saul, and ended up as a Christian saint, after he had been blinded by lightening and afterwards was converted into Paul and began to teach that the blood of Jesus had saved not only him, but all mankind from sin (Corinthians 23: 29). In spite of all these terror tactics to convert the African into Christianity, it must be remembered that the Africans who finally went to the whiteman’s church did so not because they rejected their African way of life. This is far from the truth. The African who went or goes to the whiteman’s church today was attracted to the Christian community simply because of the useful things and services that the churches offered or promised to provide; material things, not spiritual or ethical teachings. These useful things were such as medicines, like the tablets with which Dr Albert Cook, treated the Acholi who called them ‘lizard eggs’. Money was and is also such a useful thing that persuaded and persuades Africans to pretend to convert to Christianity. This money was produced either by planting cotton and other crops which were introduced by the missionaries or by making household goods like chairs which were taught by the missionaries. The African also went to the church and goes to the church today to learn new knowledge, reading and writing, a foreign language and so on, so that he could get a job in the new colonial apparatus and earn a salary or wage, with which to buy new gadgets such as a bicycle, which the Acholi Christened ‘a donkey without eyes’. Did the African go to the church to offer sacrifices to Christ? No. Did he understand what the white diviner in a black kanzu spoke about? No. But that did not matter. Was he interested in the spiritual life into which he was converted? No. Why should he bother with such issues? The African of tradition who went to church did not reject his culture. He saw the church as a necessary ladder to power and material gain and status in the new colonial dispensation, and riches in the form of money, to supplement his other form of wealth, goats, sheep, and cattle. Power, status and wealth were and still are the main attractions of the Christian missionary at the height of the colonial regime in Africa and also today during independence. It was not and is not for salvation from sin that attracted and still attracts the African to the altar. In this process and exercise of evangelising, the so-called African Christian compromised and still compromises himself a great deal. He has to tell a lie. A big lie, first to the fellows with the goods he wants, that is the missionaries, that he has left all black things and had become saved. Then to his parents and clan that he is now their linkman between tradition and the new faith. True African salvation does not come from following the ways of the whiteman. True salvation comes from within ourselves as a united African people.

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