My MOM sees 3 Colours — Black, White & God
The belief system in Africa has always been attached to a “Supreme (all-knowing) Being” deemed to be the “keeper of paths” and “definer of destinies”. Our Ancestors, regardless of their descent or culture had beliefs that revolved around this Supreme Being. This is noticeable through the over 700 hundred names used to refer to God in Africa. This differs from location to location, from Western Africa where names like “Olodumare, Chineke, Oghene,…” refer to God, to the East “Engai, Jok, Waqa,...” and the South “Inkosi, uDali, Nwali,…” etc. All the above names alluded to, refer to God as the “Maker” or “Creator”. Supplications through sacrifices/ablutions were made for absolution from sins, requests or thanksgiving for answered prayers to the Supreme Being.
Fast-forward to 730 BC, with the invasion of the Arabs followed by the Europeans into Africa. With them came new religions — most prominent Islam and Christianity. These religions have grown in acceptance across the African continent. Remarkably, they have helped in abolishing previous cultural beliefs such as killing of twins in some parts of West Africa and other degenerating acts. However, it is noteworthy that in some cases the full acceptance or misinterpretation of these religions has promoted radicalist faith such as can be currently seen globally. A system (radicalism) that imposes the greatness of one (religion) over the other through violence (and we’ve seen this before right? — yeah as ‘racism’).
Another pro of religion is that it gives people a sense of oneness that transcends traditional/cultural similarity. I am christian and I might have started off as one because of the upbringing I received through my Mom. But since I was opportune to travel and live in diverse (in terms of religious beliefs, sexuality and values) cultural systems, I have began to evaluate the realities and boundaries of my faith. Moving from the restrictions of my beliefs to becoming more accepting of other people’s.
My mother did not grow up in a christian household, in fact her’s was one that had deeply rooted traditional and ancestral beliefs. But after she migrated from home, met my father and birth me, one event led to the other and she was converted to Christianity. Over the years, her faith has grown so strong and perhaps there comes my never-faltering belief. As a kid, I spent most time not at school or playing with friends at the church. I grew to love the friendly atmosphere, hope and joy-filled people and participated in several activities. Now I have grown-up and left the roof of my parents to lead my own journey through life. I sometimes deviate from the status quo of my faith but always find my way back.
Recently my family visited me for a vacation/celebratory trip. In the quality time we spent together, I was once again awakened to my mom’s spirituality. Having spent the past couple of years as a researcher, I have developed a new viewpoint on the science of “things”. Most especially the thought that every natural phenomenon has a scientific explanation continues to linger in my mind. This consequently has driven the curiosity to find the “what, why and how?” of the unknown. Conversely, my mom did not agree totally with my views. In her case, whatever cannot be explained automatically fell into the category of the mysterious (only God knew). As the vacation stretched on, there were times when her use of the statement sometimes made me nauseated.
But one conclusion stands out for me. The unknown will only be known to the Supreme Being just before the knowledge gap is filled up by science. In addition, as long as man inhabits earth, there will exist phenomenon that cannot yet be explainable by science. Thus my acceptance of my mom’s belief system that the world only exists in 3 colours Black, White & God.