In my opinion, the colonial masters used religion as a tool to penetrate and enslave Africa. Although I stand corrected, my assertion is born out of a close analysis of the events that occurred during the colonial era involving religion and colonialism.
Although I do not qualify as a Marxist, I cannot agree more with Karl Marx when he said ‘Religion is the opium of the people’. It is not a myth and very little argument can be put forward to deny the claims that Religion was one of the major tools used by the colonial masters to infiltrate Africa. I totally agree that all religion in their singular forms evolves from harmless beliefs geared towards peace and love, but it is the motives for which they are used and the examples we have chosen to adopt that sickens me.
For instance, while all our religious books speak voluminously of love, peace, and unity, it is the part that tells tales of war, slavery, and discrimination that we have chosen to find favor with – just as we were taught to by our colonial masters who hid behind rosary bearing missionaries to enslaved Africa.
The religious crisis and terror in the world today is a clear indication that those who brought religion to us based it on unholy foundations. This can be said because it is rather unthinkable that a man will kill another for the sole purpose that he/she is an infidel, i.e. does not share the same religious views as them.
Just like Trade and Education, religion was a ploy by the colonial masters to penetrate Africa. It is somewhat surprising that despite the strong Christian beliefs of the British – whose leadership is instituted by the church; so much exploitation, killings, and unthinkable atrocities were committed during their time in Africa.
Also, how come slavery, murder and other vices prevalent despite the strong religious presence that accompanied the British invasion of Africa and why did the church not solidly stamp its foot on the ground to resist these activities?
This is not to say, however, that there were not a few missionaries who did some good during their time in Africa; but their efforts were more of individual decisions than institutional mandates. It is also fair to consider the possibility that the missionaries themselves who came to Africa during the pre-colonial era were used and made to believe that other than salvation, relief, and medicine, their governments had no ulterior motives.
If one is to call a spade by its name, rather than refer to it barely as a working tool, it is difficult to separate religion from colonialism. Yet, without bias, I believe the problem isn’t religion itself but the way in which it was used and what it was used to achieve.
It is a fundamental flaw to anchor spirituality on religion because as seen in the actions of the religious colonial masters, each is far from the other.
What are your thoughts?Disclaimer:
The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are entirely that of the author and do not reflect the position of The African Exponent.
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