Long ago in my country, a prophecy from a ‘Gikuyu Seer’ stated; “there shall come a people with eyes like the sky and clothes like the butterflies…”
At that time, ‘Gikuyu’ would have represented my tribe; as a Kenyan born near the Mountain formerly known as ‘Mt. Kirinyaga’.
The people the seer spoke of were the ‘white men’. The ‘missionaries’; the ‘evangelists’, or the ‘colonialists’. Though those terms may not be too different. I know even theft can be disguised as charity sometimes.
It turns out the prophecy was true. The white men did eventually come. They came in the name of a black book — a black book which, though foreign to us then, is now all too familiar. Their mission was to redeem us; to ‘show us the light’. And it didn’t take long for them to ‘save’ us.
“They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” — Desmond Tutu
The white man had the technology; forms of power that were all too marvelous for our ‘primitive’ existence. And with the “power of the canon”, the white man would fire the bullets that would carry the contradictions of his teachings. They would defame our ‘God’ and preach only of their own. A ‘White God’ one who was all-loving and peaceful…
I still do not know what happened to the God of my past. I did not grow up with him. Perhaps it would suffice to say that he was forced out of his dwelling place on Mt Kirinyaga, the same way my ancestors were. Maybe he never even existed.
Instead, I have grown up with the ‘white’ God. I visit his house on Sundays and listen to his teachings. I see him nailed to a cross, ravaged and plundered, much like my ancestors were, but he does not look like me. He has, long ‘Wazungu’ hair, lighter skin, and a crown of thorns placed upon his head… his name is ‘Jesus’. And though the situation of my people is marginally better since we freed ourselves from the white man, how is it that the white man’s God is still our vision of hope?
A few Sunday’s ago, I sat in Church, my mind probably lost somewhere between boredom and indifference. I was staring off into the distance. “If you do not believe in Jesus, YOU WILL DIE!” is what the pastor screamed alarmingly through the microphone. I look up, evidently distracted. Immediately, the congregation moans in agreement, nodding their heads like they’re shaking off the past of their ancestors. “Amen,” they say.
Am I the only one who sees this? I ask myself. How has our faith been stolen so easily?
In the space of 100 years, the Kenyan people have gone from primitive and crude, to ‘Christian’ and saved. Perhaps I want to believe that’s a good thing, but I also wonder, what was wrong with our God before? I mean, didn’t we have miracles. Didn’t we pray? Weren’t our prays answered?
Yet we find ourselves worshipping a God that was once so alien to us.
When I think of the past, and consider where we as a Kenyan people are now, I must give credit to the “people with eyes like the sky”. I mean, what better way to indoctrinate, oppress and control a people than religion? Isn’t the best way to get someone to do what you want them to do, to get them to believe what you believe?
I am no anthropologist, nor am a sociologist, but I have learned how to control, indoctrinate and dominate an entire people sheerly by my own first-hand experience. Here’s how it goes;
First, you must make them believe that they are ‘lost’, or victimized in some way. They may not be, but get them to believe that. Call them ‘sinners’ if you have to. Try to show them that their culture is archaic and crude, and get them to see that.
Next, present them with a solution. Your solution. A way to save themselves from the peril that their current state will bring them.
The important thing here is to present your solution as the only one. The right one. The ‘only way they’ll save themselves’.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life, no-one comes to the father except through me. (John 4:6)”
Once they have marveled at your greatness and grounded their faith in your ‘God’, tell them to “go and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:19)”.
Yes, task them with indoctrinating everyone around them. They will do it. Irrationally presenting a case for your God everywhere they go.
At that point, sit back and watch. Watch as your work is done for you. Watch as the African forgets his own God and puts his faith, and that of his fellow countrymen, in your God; preaching on pulpits across his land and threatening all those who do not believe with death.
For once the African believes what you believe, he will do as you do.
–Yours Truly (Kimathi Kaumbutho) is a Spoken Word/Poetry writer/performer, and a Hip-Hop artist from Nairobi, Kenya.