As we celebrate the seventh edition of Olufuko Cultural Festival, I am reminded by the Renowned Nigerian scholar and historian Professor Chinweizu Ibekwe who analysed the historical reasons of the early Christian missionaries in Africa based on the Letter from King Leopold II of Belgium to Colonial Missionaries, in 1883, Courtesy of Dr. Vera Nobles and Dr. Chiedozie Okoro, which reads as follow;
“Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots: The task that is given to fulfil is very delicate and requires much tact.
You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire above all Belgium interests. Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God, this they know already.
They speak and submit to a Mungu, one Nzambi (Njambi-Mukuru Kalunga), one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know. They know that to kill, to sleep with someone else’s wife, to lie and to insult is bad. Have courage to admit it; you are not going to teach them what they know already. Your essential role is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in that part of the world….Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your followers to love poverty, like “Happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven” and, “It’s very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
You have to detach from them and make them disrespect everything which gives courage to affront us. I make reference to their Mystic System and their war fetish-warfare protection-which they pretend not to want to abandon, and you must do everything in your power to make it disappear….Your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they won’t revolt when the recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parent’s teachings.
The children have to learn to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul.
You must singularly insist on their total submission and obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach students to read and not to reason.
There, dear patriots are some of the principles that you must apply.
You will find many other books, which will be given to you at the end of this conference.
Evangelize the niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white colonialists, so they never revolt against the restraints they are undergoing.
Recite every day-“Happy are those who are weeping because the kingdom of God is for them…Teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours…”
“The above speech which shows the real intention of the early Christian missionary journey in Africa was exposed to the world by Mr. Moukouani Muikwani Bukoko, born in the Congo in 1915, and who in 1935 while working in the Congo, bought a second hand Bible from a Belgian priest who forgot the speech in the Bible. — Dr. Chiedozie Okoro.
Chinweizu concludes that thanks to a century or more of this Leopold-mandated missionary mind control and due to their religiously opiated frame of mind, for Africa, the choice is either to accept the place assigned to her by others in that world, that of a supplier of raw materials and labour to Europe and America or to create a place for herself, a tenable and defensible place as one of the foremost powers and by so doing help create an alternative world order.
”I therefore thank our Founding Father Dr Sam Shafiishuna for reminding us that “a nation without culture is like a tree without roots.” I am also happy that our government through His Excellency Dr Geingob, who was represented by His Vice President, approves and supports the Olufuko Festival. Similarly, I appreciate that the Minister of Art and Culture of the Limpopo Province of South Africa attended the event. It is a pity that our Minister of Culture never attended this event.
Indeed, we must decolonise our minds. The concept of Decoloniality has its historical grounding in the Bandung Conference of 1955, in which 29 countries from Asia and Africa gathered.
The main goal of the conference was to find a common ground and vision for the future that was neither western nor eastern influenced.
The conference of the Non-Aligned countries followed suit in 1961, and took place in Belgrade.
On that occasion, several Latin American countries joined forces with Asian and African countries to establish the socio-political, economic and knowledge foundations of decoloniality.
The most enduring legacy of the Bandung Conference was delinking from Enlightenment political theory of the west (liberalism and republicanism – Locke, Montesquieu) and political economy (Smith) to go to the reservoir of the ways of life and modes of thinking that have been disqualified by Christian theology since the Renaissance and which continue expanding through secular philosophy and the sciences. Delinking through decoloniality means that you do not accept the options that are available to you.
That is the legacy of the Bandung Conference.
The option was decolonization. The splendor of the Bandung Conference was precisely in showing that another way is possible.
But there are still those whom Franz Fanon called Black Skin with White Masks, in a book that precedes the Bandung Conference by three years, but a book that was not alien to the global conditions that prompted Bandung.
If we look at the book titled” The Black Gods: Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization Part 4 – By John G. Jackson (1939).” Jackson says so far we have given little or no attention to the evidence of comparative religion.
The study of ancient religious history is important, for religion, like philosophy, changes but slowly. Institutional religion, being conservative and static in its outlook, has preserved much ancient lore that would have otherwise been lost to the modern student.
The ancient gods of India are shown with Ethiopian crowns on their heads. According to the Old Testament, Moses first met Jehovah during his sojourn among the Midianites, who were an Ethiopian tribe.
We learn from Hellenic tradition that Zeus, king of the Grecian gods, so cherished the friendship of the Ethiopians that he traveled to their country twice a year to attend banquets. “All the gods and goddesses of Greece were black,” asserts Sir Godfrey Higgins, “at least this was the case with Jupiter, Baccus, Hercules, Apollo, Ammon. The goddesses Benum, Isis, Hecate, Diana, Juno, Metis, Ceres, Cybele were black.” (Anacalypsis, Vol. I, Book IV, Chap. I.)
Even the Romans, who received their religion mainly from the Greeks, admitted their debt to Egypt and Ethiopia. A study of the images of ancient deities of both the Old and New Worlds reveal their Ethiopic origin.
This is noted by Kenneth R. H. Mackezie in T. A. Buckley’s Cities of the Ancient World, p. 180: “From the wooly texture of the hair, I am inclined to assign to the Buddha of India, the Fuhi of China, the Sommonacom of the Siamese, the Zaha of the Japanese, and the Quetzalcoatl of the Mexicans, the same, and indeed an African, or rather Nubian, origin.”
In discussing the origin of civilization in the ancient Near East, Professor Charles Seignobos in his History of Ancient Civilization, notes that the first civilized inhabitants of the Nile and Tigris-Euphrates valleys, were a dark-skinned people with short hair and prominent lips; and that they are referred to by some scholars as Cushites (Ethiopians), and as Hamites by others.
This ancient civilization of the Cushites, out of which the earliest cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia grew, was not confined to the Near East. Traces of it have been found all over the world. Dr. W. J. Perry refers to it as the Archaic Civilization. Sir Grafton Elliot Smith terms it the Neolithic Heliolithic Culture of the Brunet-Browns. Mr. Wells alludes to this early civilization in his Outline of History, and dates its beginnings as far back as 15,000 years B.C.
In modern geography the name Ethiopia is confined to the country known as Abyssinia, an extensive territory in East Africa. In ancient times Ethiopia extended over vast domains in both Africa and Asia.
“It seems certain,” declares Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, “that classical historians and geographers called the whole region from India to Egypt, both countries inclusive, by the name of Ethiopia, and in consequence they regarded all the dark-skinned and black peoples who inhabited it as Ethiopians.
Mention is made of Eastern and Western Ethiopians and it is probable that the Easterners were Asiatics and the Westerners Africans.” (History of Ethiopia, Vol. I., Preface, by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge.) In addition Budge notes that, “Homer and Herodotus call all the peoples of the Sudan, Egypt, Arabia, Palestine and Western Asia and India Ethiopians.” (Ibid., p. 2.)
Another classical historian who wrote about the Ethiopians was Strabo, from whom we quote the following: “I assert that the ancient Greeks, in the same way as they classed all the northern nations with which they were familiar as Scythians, etc., so, I affirm, they designated as Ethiopia the whole of the southern countries toward the ocean.”
Strabo adds that “if the moderns have confined the appellation Ethiopians to those only who dwell near Egypt, this must not be allowed to interfere with the meaning of the ancients.” Ephorus says that: “The Ethiopians were considered as occupying all the south coasts of both Asia and Africa,” and adds that “this is an ancient opinion of the Greeks.”
Then we have the view of Stephanus of Byzantium, that: “Ethiopia was the first established country on earth; and the Ethiopians were the first who introduced the worship of the gods, and who established laws.”
The vestiges of this early civilization have been found in Nubia, the Egyptian Sudan, West Africa, Egypt, Mashonaland, India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, The earliest civilization of Mesopotamia was that of the Sumerians.
They are designated in the Assyrio-Babylonian inscriptions as the black-heads or black-faced people, and they are shown on the monuments as beardless and with shaven heads.
This easily distinguishes them from the Semitic Babylonians, who are shown with beards and long hair.
Another great nation of Ethiopian origin was Elam, a country which stretched from the Tigris River to the Zagros Mountains of Persia.
Its capital was the famous city of Susa, which was founded about 4,000 B.C., and flourished from that date to its destruction by Moslem invaders about the year 650 C.E. (Christian Era).
The early inhabitants of India were beyond all doubt an Ethiopic ethnic type. Most readers of history know about the Celts, ancient inhabitants of Europe, whose priests were known as the Druids.
Sir Godfrey Higgins, after much study came to the conclusion that they were a Negroid people. Professor Leo Weiner has written a three volume work, Africa and the Discovery of America, in which he argues that the New World was discovered by Africans long before the time of Columbus.
The scriptures from the book of Revelation 3:9 says “ I will make those who are of the Synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars, I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”
For those who are still blinded should open their eyes and decolonise their minds and know that Afrika is the cradle of civilization.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.