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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Africa's real "Heart of darkness." (Part one)

At university, (a Calvinist Afrikaans university) our very liberal English literature lecturers would go to great lengths to point out that in Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of darkness,"  he was actually writing about the white mans "Heart of darkness", not Africa's. (Africa, according to them, was as pure as the driven snow before the white man got here). Conrad's character, Kurts'  heart, could have gone bad anywhere , but Africa was the perfect place to make it really rotten. Conrad spent enough time in the darkest spot on the continent, to know this.

Below is a photo of a photo of Africa's real heart of darkness. I would not go near one of these people, not for all the riches in the world. Thus the photo of a photo.

Photo of a Sangoma/witch doctor/shaman. (Throwing the bones to divine the future). 
Death and dirt surrounds these people. You don't voluntary decide to become a sangoma, the ancestors "call" you, refuse and the chances are pretty good that you will die.

Africa's indigenous religion is ancestor worship, and the sangoma is the channel through which you contact the ancestral spirits. The whole of Africa, south of the Sahara, is locked into this dark, fatalistic, and extremely negative power. 

According to this "religion" there is not much you can do to influence the direction of your life, it's all in the hands of the "ancestors" and they are an extremely capricious, vindictive, and unreliable lot. What will be, will be. The result an extreme kind of fatalism that beats the Muslim's Inshalla" hands down. When you die and become an ancestor you can then get your own back on your decendents.

More than 70% of South Africa's population claim to be Christian, (yet every second person is wearing a piece of rawhide around the wrist from the last sacrifice to the ancestors), but in Africa Christianity is never more than skin deep. If 70% of our population were really Christian, or even just nominally Christian, we would be living in a Paradise on Earth, not one of the most crime ridden and most violent countries on the planet. Two hundred plus years of missionary activity have not had much impact. 

When a Black African really converts to Christianity he becomes an outcast in his society, unless he compromises and continues to serve the ancestors, on the side as it were.  

This is a huge subject so I'll be devoting several posts to it.


Joyful said...

This is a subject of great interest to me. Truth is the Africans share this culture and spiritual ways with many people around the globe. It is difficult for people of such backgrounds to truly convert but not impossible. Where the people have a true conversion they can change. It really makes me wonder what the missionaries have been teaching for so long. Even in North American, Christianity is not much more than skin deep. Just ask a Christian to part with some money and you will see what I mean. I don't mean to say that all Christians are that way but many of them are. I don't go giving money willy nilly either esp. in these days of prosperity gospel. I believe everything belongs to God, including the money we make from working. We should seriously seek him on what he wants us to do with it. We should also seriously think about our example to others in how we live. Sorry, I don't mean to be preaching to you or to offend you in any way. I just want to make the point that Africans are not a whole lot different than many other races.

Gorges Smythe said...

Personally, I believe there is a difference between many nations and America. In Africa, there is an established pagan religion directly competing for the people's loyalty. Here, it has always been simple case of Christianity versus a lack of religion. Islam may soon be changing that, though.

Joyful said...

Perhaps where you live it is like that. Where I live there are all kinds of people from all around the world and they bring their religions with them. There are also Native Americans that have their own animistic religions and then there are "white" North Americans who have revived very vibrantly the ancient Celtic and Druid spirituality. There is no dearth of other religious influences in much of America.

Anonymous said...

um... you are an idiot. do some more research, young grasshopper. we need these shaman folks -