I am tired of the persisting narrative of how the ‘white man’ brought christianity to Africa. And how christianity is alien to Africa & the black man. Moreso, how blacks have been enslaved by the whites in the guise of christianity, et cetera, et cetera. The latter is a subject for another day because i want to focus on the former in this article. Make no mistake, i abhor racism, slavery, colonialism and oppressions in all it forms, anywhere, everywhere.
However, my annoyance with the subject under discussion, stems not only from the fact that those prejudices reflect the patronizing thinking that Africans have come to be known for in contemporary times but, that those narratives do not add up. Historical and biblical evidence does not in any way corrobate any of these popular thinking of christianity being a white man’s religion.
What is true is that Christainity is not only indigenious to Africa, it is foreign to Europe and the West.
If this thinking is not factually challenged today, future citizens of Western nations may also accuse African mega churches, that are currently evangelizing and planting churches in Europe and the West, of having imported christianity to them from Africa. It is no news that the old churches in Europe are closing shop, America is following suit such that, some of the most evangelical christian groups in the West today are eminently African or black led church groups.
Back to the topic. Irrespective of your theological/anthropological leaning, everyone knows that the physical location of the place where Jesus Christ was born, ministered, died and resurrected is not anywhere near Europe or America. Jesus Christ, when he was here, was not identified as a European or American. Infact, after Jesus died and the early church began to rise, one of the earliest biblical account of a people who adopted christianity, were found reading the scriptures, and had been following after Abrahamic religion were Africans, in today’s and in historical definition. A classical case in point is the “Ethiopian Eunuch”, whom apostle Philip joined in his chariot to espouse the scripture unto him, on his way from his usual religious meeting in Jerusalem, and he was baptized in water that same day.
Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
Neither Philip, nor the Ethiopian Eunuch were Europeans, Americans or from any of the western axis, using todays geopolitical definitions. So, where does this theory that christianity is the White man’s religion from?
The foregoing biblical account and ancient historical records affirm that christianity was practised in Africa, by black people, long before its spread to places now called West or Europe today. Ethiopians are blacks, were never colonized, and many of them still follow after the religion the said Eunuch era unto this day. I wont bother reminding you that Egyptians are Africans too, so you dont distract me with their skin colour and arabic language. Their orthodox churches precedes the oldest churches in Europe and the West.
Evidently, the black man and the African continent received and practised Christianity much earlier, and long before the places where the white man live now, and lived then. That several centuries after, the European churches grew better, and became the source of missionaries and outreaches to Africa, does not alienate the religion itself from Africa, or make it that of the whites.
I will make bold to posit, using time lines alone, that christianity on the African soil precedes many of the supposed “traditional” african religions as practiced by some of our grandfathers. Without prejudice to adherents of such traditional faith, it is gross distortion of history not to recognize that christianity is as indigenous to Africa as every other religion we met our fathers practicing.
The ethiopian eunuch was african. He could not have been the only african who accepted and practiced christianity. In other words, many of our great, great african grandfathers practised christainity like the eunuch did. And by that alone, we can call it the religion of our forefathers. Yes, some of my forefathers were christian. So, when i became a christian, i am only returning to one of the religion my great grand fathers practised.
O’ thanks to all the white missionaries for expanding the gospel of Jesus Christ in Africa like many African churches are doing in Europe today. But, make no mistake, christianity is one of Africa’s traditional religions.
It is one of our traditions in Africa, to be christian, like many of our forefathers were. History supports that, you should. God bless you.!
NB: In all accounts of creation, God created man [not black or white man], and Jesus Christ came to save sinners [not white or black sinners]. Stop stigmatizing other humans based on their skin colour.
Serve God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.!