Dear Brother, One day we will wake up and we won’t know ourselves because the traditions we should preserve are being traded for nothing, and the cultures we should trade are being preserved. We are men learning to walk with our hands. That is the danger of our African civilisation. Let’s be clear, there is no civilisation, we are just people that are swimming in unknown water and paddling through troubled intellectual reasoning. We have refused to think, we will continue to pay the price.
The other day, a ladies short skirt was shredded by some hoodlums who claimed that wearing something like that isn’t part of our culture. People claim to know our culture without examining properly how and where the practice started. For all I know, our ancestors never had a problem with what someone was wearing. We are in the age of misplaced priorities, look around, we are paying the price and heavily.
Most of the masquerade dance in the villages has been abandoned because of Christianity. We used to wait eagerly for them to visit our house in the village, if they don’t, we will go looking for them. But those days are gone, no one wants to associate with masquerades, the church doesn’t like them, therefore they were abolished. Our intellectuals have set a standard and put good men to shame with their slippery tongues and Halloween pictures from Houston, tell me about masquerades. These men that should champion our civilisation have ended it. African intellectuals are not ambitious, they are suicidal. They don’t have foresight; they are blind, future blind. They are still constructing papers on colonialism when Africa needs a system that will abolish foreign standards and set our civilisation on an upward trajectory.
I have sat in several classes and listened to our intellectuals speak. Brother, do not take them seriously, their foundation of knowledge is shaky. They will tell you about racism, they will speak passionately about colonisation and African underdevelopment, yet the foundation of their reasoning is derived from western philosophy. They shamefully learnt how to think from these men and proudly parade this knowledge when pushing the agenda for Africa. That base is beautiful, but that’s not how our civilisation should think. Philosophy is the core of any civilisation, we should build ours, not front others. Do not listen to them. Our intellectuals lost their way a long time ago and cannot find it back.
Our fathers built their knowledge with the tools available to them. They knew the foundation of humanity, with that, they constructed their philosophy. Mmadu – the beauty that exists. I am, therefore, I think. They formed these basics of knowledge in their so called primitive ways, even though most of them remained undocumented, yet they can still be explored, and used as the foundation of knowledge. These men were not less smart than Socrates and Sun Tzu. Our intellectuals are advancing a western cause and most of their research will sit in beautiful libraries in Boston, New York, London and other citadels of learning. They don’t belong to us.
Sometimes I wonder how we despise our very own core values. I admire the old men in our village, the beauty of their wisdom, yet they are not called intellectuals. They are not called Professors, but they know everything, the college boys use them to obtain Ph.D’s, because their knowledge are built purely on originality of thought and not with western paradigm, these college boys will report that they met a bush man whose language needed translatin. No brother, they met a Professor. They met men who can stand before any philosophical reasoning and project the beauty of our being, the legends or our lands, tell tales and orally recount several dynasties and lineage without turning a page. Sun Tzu never spoke any English; you don’t need to speak English to be an intellectual.
Read Achebe, read Wole Soyinka and all other beautiful writers, do not believe their intellectual reasoning, but examine their artistic beauty. That is where we will get a hint of truth. The African artists are the last bastion in rebuilding our dead civilisation. When that ship full of soldiers and purist dropped on our shores, I wonder what made our fathers join the purist. Maybe it was the only way to save us. They might have died fighting. But they made a tough decision, knowing that this was death of a civilisation and the preservation of civilisation. You cannot deny that this happened. Achebe couldn’t bear the pain either, that is why he quoted William Butler Yeats, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”. Only a poet can capture the pain of losing one’s civilisation, read that line three times, it will make a difference.
Chinua Achebe wrote “The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” We must take this seriously; Achebe wrote from a place of truth, that truth has turned to fable in recent times. People are no longer concerned about whom they truly are and these actions continue to hunt us. Forgive Achebe, there are sometimes he couldn’t just say, well we Igbo believe that every man born of a woman should be able to understand proverbs. Achebe spoke in proverbs throughout, if you don’t understand, forgive him.
The religion of our ancestors has become something to despise, to be associated with evil, loosely translated into hell fire. These narratives are not true. They are narrow and mostly Nollywood fables. Our forefather’s practices might be obscure, but to be sincere, these decisions they took them with the tool that were available to them. The same way the Catholic Church killed many scientists for their belief. Don’t worry; the church has spilled more blood in the name Christ than you can ever think of. Every man must answer to his Chi.
If all Christians turn a blind eye to the reality, perhaps you should tell them about King Leopold II’s letter to the missionaries, “Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God, this they know already. They speak and submit to a Mungu, one Nzambi, one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know. They know that to kill, to sleep with someone else’s wife, to lie and to insult is bad. Have courage to admit it; you are not going to teach them what they know already. Your essential role is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in that part of the world.”
I wonder how many priests watched “niggers” die for resisting colonialism, yet they went on to preach to them, teach their dark soul. Let me remind you that initially they didn’t even believe that we had a soul.
There is no Ubuntu, today we have men that want to make heaven by all means. Remember that your purpose on earth is to enjoy it. Enjoy it. We will not be here forever. Let me tell you about heaven. Remember we lived a few meters away from the stream. I used to see visions of my presumed God, angels, and saints. God used to visit me in my visions. A white man, with white clothes, shining a bright light, I was delusional. I never understood anything. I was small. I used to see the dancing sun while waiting for virgin Marry to possess a virgin in Obowo. One night I had a dream that I was transported to heaven. Everything was white and in all sincerity I didn’t see any black man there. I was the only black man in heaven, heaven is so white brother, and I have seen it. Hell is too black, we don’t belong there either. It was of later years that I realised how much I have been scammed and program to think this way. If you remember vividly the outlay of St Michael’s in Amakohia, the pictures we were taught with about GOD, about angels, about everything beautiful in heaven, did you ever see a black man in those pictures? These formed the basis of my reality. Then I believed that God was white. Today when someone approaches me with a vision from God or angel, I ask them if he is white or black. I think you should do the same. There is no reason why God should appear to you as a white man, nor his angels.
If we must find a way, then we must listen to the cries of Achebe in Things Fall Apart, we must feel the depth of his sincerity when he wrote that, “Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control; they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit — in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever.” Achebe was always looking for a way to champion against this control. He might not have done directly. But in all his work, he headed towards that direction.
Do not see my letter as against faith, but a chart to who we are, what we should fight to preserve and what we shouldn’t, so that when you say, “it is our culture” that you may ask, “What is our culture?” Floating colonial spirits or the true ways of our fathers? What is our culture? The future of earth is bleak, and that is troubling.
One of the greatest minds in this century, Stephen Hawkins, said, “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space.” If this statement is true as much as other apocalyptic scientific predictions, what will our place be in the space? Begging developed nations to carry us along? Sending our intellectuals to make a case on humanitarian grounds? Let me remind you that they have already started building machines that will be able to transport man at the speed of light. Left for the church, our civilisation will slouch into extinction, look around it is happening.
Look at China, they wait for no one. They know that this statement is true. The future of man is in space. We are still busy arguing about religion and how God will save us. Let’s be sincere, God is not coming to save us. Remember the countless times we said prayers for our troubled nation in the church, yet nothing has changed till date. The only thing that has changed is the ones we thought out for ourselves. I believe that God gave us head so that we might survive with it. That we might think out a way to advance our technology, art and history to whatever level required for our survival. The earth is dying, it’s not fiction, and it’s the scariest thing you might want to hear. Trust me the church will not save us. God is a spiritual being, he will not judge us for that, for advancing our own cause, for thinking of a way forward, improving our health, our lives here on earth. Many have lived in misery and many are still living in misery. We can fight for our civilisation in a sincere way without the prospect of heaven or hell.
God is not a Christian; God is not the property of any religion. God is God, his true nature we might never know. Each generation must decide how to live. Our forefathers made decisions with tools that were available to them. Hopefully, the Mars gazette will not read like this: “Once upon a time, a certain part of the earth was inhabited by black men.”
Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart
William Butler Yeats THE SECOND COMING
Letter from King Leopold II of Belgium to Colonial Missionaries, 1883. Available on:http://www.fafich.ufmg.br/~luarnaut/Letter%20Leopold%20II%20to%20Colonial%20Missionaries.pdf
Stephen Hawking’s Warning: Abandon Earth—Or Face Extinction. Available on:http://bigthink.com/dangerous-ideas/5-stephen-hawkings-warning-abandon-earth-or-face-extinction