Monday, January 08, 2007
Are We Cursed?
I like being logical. That, however, has not precluded me from being spiritual. As matter of fact, I believe that you cannot be logical and miss the essence of spirituality or spiritual realities. When science hits a wall and fails to provide answers to some burning questions of our generation, a light bulb has to come on in your head. There must be a higher being somewhere. I call that higher being God. Getting to understand and connecting with God is the highest level of enlightenment, trust me.
One of the burning questions in our generation, that is the African generation, is why the continent is still poor. The majority of human kinds out there understand the concept of progress and socio-economic development. Learned individuals have come up with the theories of development. Some societies have actually gone as far as implementing those theories. Given that Africans are not living in isolation, why can’t we learn and change? Why can’t Tanzania, for instance, make any meaningful progress?
I like to share ideas. Believe it or not, opening up and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the best way to learn. My thinking is not 100% superb all the time, but I understand my shortcomings when I hear what other people have to say.
I happened to have a dinner table conversation with a friend and a brother. Being Tanzanians, one of the topics that came up was a “comparative analysis” of Tanzania v. USA. The conversation entailed the six million dollar question – why is Tanzania still poor? Obviously, my brother; who recently moved to the US from Tanzania, believes that Tanzania and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa is still poor because of the Europe and North America’s neo-colonialism tactics. Such tactics, he contended, include manipulation of the world market, investing in Africa under unfavorable terms, etc.
But then my brother dropped a bomb. He came up with the conclusion that the core issue facing people of the Negroid decent is purely spiritual. Briefly, the African problem is not mental, technical, scientific, but plainly a spiritual curse. He went to justify his argument by citing African-Americans in the United States who, generally speaking, are not doing any better than their relatives in the African continent.
For all y’all who are not Biblical scholars, the curse theory comes from a Biblical account. Briefly, the Bible tells us that of the Noah’s three sons; Ham, failed to cover his father’s nakedness and a result, got cursed. See Genesis 9: 20-27 .
Personally, I have trouble with this theory. For one, Ham was not particularly and specifically cursed, it was his son Canaan (see Genesis 9:25). The belief that the Negroid Africans are cursed is largely due to the belief that Africans are largely Hamitic, because Cushites (see Genesis 10:6) are thought to have lived where Ethiopia is today. This is my argument, and I believe most Biblical scholars will agree with me: even if the Cushites are truly Negroid Africans, the Bible tells us that Canaan and not Cush was cursed!
I truly believe that African problems are more attitudinal and cultural than spiritual. I am ruling out mental and intellectual reasons because it has not been proven that Caucasians, Latinos or Asians are more intelligent than Negroes. Let me speak to Tanzanians who claim to be Christians for a minute. Assuming the curse is truly there, Africans are not bound by the old covenant. If we have to make an assessment of the African situation from a Biblical perspective, Africans (gentiles) are under the New Testament (covenant)– the covenant of the blood of the Jesus. Besides, nowhere in the copy of my Bible it is written to conclusively contend that Africans are cursed. As such, Tanzanians must simply wake up from their deep slumber and take a very hard look at their own faces.
Tanzanians and other African countries must grow. The reason Europeans and North Americans treat us like kids is because we are act like kids (you can’t deny that, given that our presidents would rather boast of meeting a British president and not solving domestic issues). We come to the major league with minor league mentalities. If Tanzania is doing better than Malawi, for instance, it does not mean that we have mastered the game. The major league countries will still whoop us. Wearing a European suit does not give you a European thinking capability.
Citing a spiritual curse as the reason for the African poverty and pathetic social situation is a clear indication that we are missing the point. Just looking around the world today. One cannot fail to observe the fact that most materially prosperous societies are falling into a spiritual emptiness and a “curse” that is astounding. Values in the United State of America for instance, are becoming a foreign notion. One prominent American preacher once made this observation: Americans may look at African as a third world economically, but the reality is that Africa is the first world spiritually.
I guess it is all a matter of perspective.
My personal conviction is that Sub-Saharan African is not cursed. The continent has simply failed to define where it wants to go and how it wants to get there. The continent, in my point of view, has decided to resign in a corner and throw a pity party. At some point, we have to be hard on ourselves and institute accountability as part of our vocabulary. Curse or no curse, nobody progresses without being accountable. At some point, we have to separate imaginary curses from our own stupidity. The faster we realize that, the better we will become.
You are as big as your mental outlook.