I cannot deny that there’s room for improvement in the teaching of world history in our schools, including African history (or “black history,” as it is commonly called in this hemisphere). It is true that most of the writers of the history books are not Africans, or African descendants, although attempts have been successfully made by some in the last century to bring balance to the diet of what have been the common staples for Caribbean people.
Generally speaking, however, many are not concerned about their own family history, which includes “living elders,” much less the history of ancient ancestors from the continent of Africa. Some may be more interested in their European ancestors because it feels better to associate with the powerful property owners than with the enslaved captives.
For those who are interested in plantation history, however, I find there is too much willingness to focus on “how massa treated the slaves,” rather than how the slaves survived and prospered. Yes, I mean “prospered.” And no one was preaching “prosperity gospel” at the time (I don’t think). It was something deeply ingrained in the human psyche: a spiritual will to “overcome.” Where has that “overcoming spirit” gone? The human soul is meant to be aligned with God, and through God, it was, and still is, possible to overcome.
Blessing in disguise
Some critics of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the plantation period have vilified the early missionaries for introducing Christianity to the slaves. They say it was the “white man’s religion” used to keep the slaves from rebelling against the system. But accounts tell of numerous “uprisings” during the period, despite the fact that slaves were told about the teachings of the Bible.
Not everyone, even today, does as the Bible says. However, those who learned about the God of love learned also to have hope. When you have hope, you can endure, because you have faith, and between faith and hope, there is love. And where there is love, there is peace.
Introducing the Christian doctrine to the slaves and ex-slaves was a blessing in disguise. Although those who introduced it may not have practised what they preached to the letter, they shared the Word, and each person, slave or free, is exhorted to “work out [his or her] own salvation.”
Regarding this myth that Christianity is a “white man” religion, the scriptures say that after Jesus Christ gave His disciples the mandate to spread the Gospel all over the world “to every nation and every generation,” some of His followers travelled overseas from Jerusalem and Judea to the outer realms of the region. It was the Apostle Paul who took the Gospel to the Greeks and the Romans. What we now know as the Catholic Church evolved from those days.
Christianity vs. Egyptology
Today, many people of colour look to Egyptology as an alternative to Christianity, simply because they are convinced that the Egyptians were black, and represent the essence of “black history.” But Egypt was the centre of witchcraft and slavery. What they called “high science” is based on idolatry and sorcery. It was out of Egypt that Jehovah had to rescue the children of Israel. People who cling to Egypt, spiritually, are in direct disobedience to the Word of God.
I encourage people to read the Holy Bible and study the teachings of Jesus. Through grace, and all that He stands for, one can truly become free; truly overcome the past and live in a better present. Prove it for yourself.
SANDRA PHILLIP HODGE