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So I finished my exams and stumbled upon this
By the middle of nineteenth century these English-educated Hindus set about reforming Hinduism from within. Their goal was to make Hinduism more respectable in the eyes of the Europeans by doing away with those features of Hinduism that Europeans considered superstitious and backward. The various schools of reformed Hinduism they established in every part of India took a very dim view of image-worship, caste hierarchies and the worship of devadasis. Thus, from the middle of the nineteenth-century and well into the twentieth, Westernized Indians themselves were very active in abolishing the tradition of the devadasis.
I swear, you could literally replace this phenomenon with the Igbo narrative.
By the middle of nineteenth century these English-educated Igbos set about reforming Igbo Culture from within. Their goal was to make Igbo Culture more respectable in the eyes of the Europeans by doing away with those features of Igbo Culture that Europeans considered superstitious and backward. The various schools of reformed Igbo Culture they established in every part of Igbo land took a very dim view of [Igbo Cultural Element], [Igbo Cultural Feature] and [Igbo Cultural Practice]. Thus, from the middle of the nineteenth-century and well into the twentieth, Westernized Igbos themselves were very active in abolishing the tradition of [Insert Any Non-Western Approved Aspect of Igbo Culture].
The above is an excerpt from something I'm reading about India and the effects of European colonisation. Not surprisingly, this narrative is repeated over and over and over again whenever I read about any society that came into contact with Europeans. Basically, the standard shizzle was to get the "Natives" to go about destroying their own culture in order to suck up to the Europeans because they (Europeans) decided that European culture was the best and the most superior, and the Natives (Insert ANY group of non-Europeans here) were daft enough to listen to, tolerate, and encourage the European foolishness.
Same old story of colonialism. No matter where in the world you take it, the above paragraph still holds true. The only thing that is varies is the degree to which the "Natives" managed to erase their culture before they came back to their senses.
If you look at the East Asian countries, it only happened to a very small degree so culturally, they have been able to mostly recover from European brainwashing.
If you look at African countries, it's almost a fucking lost cause, and when you look at the FRANCOPHONE countries.... well you might as well not even bother looking because there sure as hell isn't anything to look for. The francophone African countries have traded and sold their culture and languages lock stock and barrel to the French. It's a done deal, there's no recovering. Ever.
The English speaking countries, particularly Nigeria the Beloved, still have some hope at least, but it dwindles daily thanks to the masses of mentally conditioned Nigerians that roam about in our country. Nigerians that are convinced that everything about their culture, even harmless artwork is fetish, devilish, diabolical, evil, etc etc. So what must they think of the fact HD XXX awaits at this useful site, porn-hd xxx and others? The same Nigerians that have been made so afraid of their culture by stupid European ideas about Christianity that they now see witches and wizards everywhere, even to the point where they harm innocent children in the wave of their overzealousness.
Frankly, I think that Nigerians go overboard to the point of mental delusion with the whole Christianity thing (particularly the Mount Zion, mountain of fire, Jewish-referencing, promise land spouting set) because they feel they empty culturally.
Now how can a group of people with such rich cultures feel empty culturally? And what has this got to do with religion? Let me explain.
Nigerians (at least most of us in the Southern half) embraced Christianity. Unfortunately, the people that they learned Christianity from were a group of small-minded pricks* who taught them that anything even remotely connected to their culture was evil and should be shunned. (Lol, shun the non-believer). These idiots even went so far as to force new converts to take Israeli-European names like Joshua, Joseph, Mary, etc. As if our own names were not good enough, leading to the current situation of Nigerians with stupid-as-fuck-English/European/Israeli names e.g. Polycarp. Really? You really want your child to be known as Polycarp? What the fuck happened to good old Ekpeyong???? (Don't even get me started about the olodo of a woman that punished her daughter with the name "Queen Elizabeth") And even when they no longer explicitly forced us to change our names, the drama mellowed into an ungodly proliferation of Chi- and Chukwu- names. [If I had one kobo for every Igbo person who has a Chi or a Chukwu in their name, Bill Gates wouldn't be able to tell me shit]
(Note, Europeans got to name their children a whole variety of European names that had nothing to do with Christianity and were even sometimes PAGAN names - Diana for example - but nobody ever told them that if the name wasn't Christian they couldn't have it, yet Nigerians were forced to give up our own names and answer theirs)
But I disgress.
Back to what I was saying. These "Christians" in Nigeria do have cultures, very rich, amazing, varied, super cool cultures, but they are AFRAID to embrace them because they feel that by doing so they are somehow aligning themselves with the devil. The problem is, humans NEED culture. We really do. We need to feel like we belong to a group and that group has certain norms, rituals, and habits that set it apart and we belong to it. This is the first problem these people face.
The second problem they face arises when they try to solve the first problem. Okay, they've rejected their original culture after pronouncing it evil (in other words, they have shunned the non-believer. - I'm sorry, I just had to), they might as well replace the old culture with the new culture right??
Pretty quickly after reading the Bible, these new Nigerian Christians realized that their new religion had nothing to do with them whatsoever. First of all, there are no Black people in the Bible (except the Ethiopian dude, the Egyptians [a group upon whom Europeans have successfully cast racial aspersions], and POSSIBLY the Queen of Sheba]. Even then, the only other time that Black people MIGHT possibly be mentioned in the Bible, it is insinuated that they are cursed (Ham and all his peepshow drama).
Second, Christianity is whiter than white bread. To this day, the Jesus that is brought out at the special Vatican ceremonies has blond hair and blue eyes, something the average Nigerian can never aspire to. Also, if you think about it in the context of 19th century Nigerians being introduced to Christianity, they were basically being asked to worship a white man. (Yeah, I know, Jesus isn't white, but the point is, 90% of the representation of Jesus out there IS white). All the gods they had worshipped until that point were Black people like themselves, and suddenly they were being asked to venerate this White man and by association, elevate these White people above themselves.
Third, they were forced or encouraged to adopt European cultural practices along with their religion which only had significance and meaning for Europeans but not for Nigerians. In other words, the awkwardness of these new cultural practices only served to further point out the disparity between the new religion/culture and the worshippers. For example, Most Igbo Christians wear a WHITE DRESS to get married, yet in Igbo culture, White is the colour of MOURNING, SPIRITS, and THE DEAD (which is why all those Igbo masks usually have White faces because they represent spirits or the ancestors who are dead). Contradiction much?
Basically, Nigerian Christians who reject their culture and try to embrace European/Judeo-Christian culture quickly find that they do not belong and that they never belonged. As a result they try to draw parallels between their original culture and their new religions to comfort themselves in and convince themselves into thinking that somehow they have a connection with this other religion/culture when in reality the new religion is telling them that nothing about them is good enough unless they denounce their own culture and achievements as inferior and praise that of the colonizer as superior.
This is precisely the reason why some Igbo people have deluded themselves into thinking that Igbos are the lost tribe of the Jews and all what not. *rolls eyes*
Igbo Christians who would like to feel some connection to their culture but are too afraid that by doing so they might be committing "fetish" acts make themselves feel better by seeking out any similarities between Igbo culture and Jewish culture and then reading far too much meaning into it.
Some Igbos think we are Jews because:
Traditionally, once every couple of years, the most beautiful girl and boy in the town/wherever is chosen and then tied up and dragged around the town and everyone lays hands on them to transfer their sins into them and then they are dragged through the dust to a cliff until they either die or are thrown over the edge as a sacrifice to take away the sins of the whole people. (Obviously we don't do this anymore)
In the Bible, there is a similar practice using a goat or a ram or some other creature.
The Kingdom of Nri from which the Igbo nation was founded is ruled by Kings who simultaenously serve as Priests. (Never mind the fact that these priests serve Ani, Anyanwu, and a host of other gods o!) -The Jews had Priests and made a big deal about it.
Igbos perceive themselves to be persecuted by other ethnic groups for no reason. -The Jews were persecuted.
Igbos are generally industrious and thrive wherever they are. -The Jews can be similarly described.
Christian Igbos believe themselves to be the chosen people of God (what justification they have beyond a healthy dose of narcissism to make this claim I do not know, but hey, every civilization claims at least once that THEY are the chosen people of God(s) so hey.) The Jews claim to be the chosen people of God.
The really amusing thing, is that I could draw parallels between Igbo culture and almost any other culture in the world if I tried hard enough.
Before Christianity, Igbos bathed together at the streams or under waterfalls, men and women - mixed bathing Mixed bathing at onsens (hot springs) used to be (and still is to a degree) a huge part of Japanese culture
Igbo people had round fans (among other designs) Japanese people had round fans (among other designs)
Igbo people fought with bows and arrows, swords, and halberds (among other weapons) Japanese people fought with bows and arrows, swords, and halberds (among other weapons)
Igbo people worshipped multiple gods Japanese people worshipped multiple gods
Igbo people believed in Mermaids Japanese people believed in Mermaids
Igbo people kneel and bow their heads when greeting with respect Japanese people bow their heads and occasionally perform kneeling bows when greeting with respect
Igbo and Japanese have extremely similar word composition rules
Igbo and Chinese (which is the root of Japanese) are both tonal.
Does this mean Igbo people are really a lost group of Japanese people that wandered off?
You tell me.
It goes on and on.
The problem is, all these things are merely coincidences. They don't change the fact that The Igbos are not Jews, that the Bible is not about Igbos or even any Africans except for the aforementioned or any Asians except for the Three Wise Men from the East. It certainly isn't about Native Americans or about South Americans or Aborigines. It doesn't change the fact that for the most part, the people who ARE mentioned in the Bible do not feel any kinship with those of us who are struggling to feel among. Go and ask Ethiopians who were even actually legitimately mentioned in the Bible about the kind of discrimination they suffer in Israel.
This is not just a problem that Igbos have. It is a problem that everyone who was ever colonized by Europeans shares. And all people are doing is COMPENSATING. People compensate for the rejection they feel (I mean they feel rejected by the their religion in some way because it's obviously not about them) by claiming Jesus was Black, Buddha was Black, Krishna was Black, Onye nwanu na onye nwanne was Black.
No. Jesus was never Black and no amount of claiming is going to make him so. Buddha wasn't either and neither was Krishna or Mohammed or anyone else. If you need something to cling to, God put you on this earth in a beautiful culture. Celebrate that. Religion and culture are two separate entities but unfortunately, it's very difficult to transmit religion without transmitting culture, which is why Christians tend to behave like Europeans or Jews (to a lesser degree) and Muslims tend to behave like Arabs. All you're doing is stroking the egos of these cultures and telling them that they are indeed superior to you.
I understand if you're Christian and want to remain so. (Hey, I'm Christian and this is what I believe) but that should not cause you to denounce your culture as fetish or evil. Things like that get on my damn nerves because people just take religion and use it as license to go crazy. Also, if all those people in Nigeria were comfortable with both their cultures and their religions and found a way to acheive harmony and balance between the two, they wouldn't have the need to constantly roam about binding and casting everything in sight, and they would also open their minds to seeing the beauty all around them instead of longing for someone else's culture that can never be theirs. (No Igbo people, not even if you sneak into the Vatican with an eraser and a biro, you still will not be mentioned in the Bible. Get the fuck over it. You were born Igbo, it's as good as any other. Same goes for if you're Yoruba. You are not from Saudi Arabia and will NEVER be.)
Finally, one more thing that has pissed me off no end, is this idea that Odinani or Ifa are "juju" or "fetish" or "paganism".
No. All religion is an expression of man's desire to seek God in whatever aspect of God that may be. Just as Buddhism and Hinduism are legitimate religions, so too are Odinani and Ifa. Just as Ganesha, Krishna, Kali, Shiva, and co are legitimate aspects of God, so too are Anyanwu, Ani, Sango, Olokun, and co. And, just as Christians use a rosary, Hindus can also use Shivoham mala beads. In light of that thought, our religions should not be treated with any less respect simply because they recognize the aspects of God separately. There are lots of Nigerians that treat followers of traditional religions like lepers and it is fucking annoying. Your religion is not THE ONLY right way. How fucking conceited do you have to be to think that you have salvation on lock down?
Yeah, so I wrote this post to say that I finished my finals on Friday and now I'm free to sleep, draw, write, blog, and watch all the Inuyasha I want. Sorry, it got kinda long. My bad.