Another Muslim public holiday has come and gone. Called the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’, it celebrates the compliance of Ibrahim to readily forgo his son Ishmael as sacrifice at the command of Allah. For Islam, the later – their ancestor – was the son in question as opposed to Isaac – ancestor to the Jews – as recorded in the Hebrew Bible. It is on this count that the holiday – apart from the respite from the biting times it afforded – also served to awaken erstwhile sleeping thoughts.
Floating atop the eddying melange was why the patriarch in question did not have a third son to whom Africa could have clung to retain its ancestors forever lost – save something is done – to the two ‘world’ religions spawned in their commemoration. Or, taken from another angle, why in the world did we not end up like peoples like the Japanese or Chinese who were spared from this debacle by history.
Indeed, when the story of how Africa lost her religions to outright invaders will be told, it will make more compelling tale than that of how the leopard lost its spots. O yes, because though sundry revisionists are quick to reposition the continent as only the birthplace of mankind, it is also well and truly the cradle of its civilization. Indubitably, ever before the fountains in Mesopotamia n Asia – to whom the honour is being surreptitiously transferred to – so long before Greece on account of its Classical Age, black Egypt had risen, waxed, waned and subsisted. They only trouble was that those she treated as equals while it reigned supreme treated her vice versa at the turn of the civilization tide. Thus with help from a superior firepower they were to overrun it, usurping and supplanting her lands and ways.
Nowhere else was this more so than in the subject of her religions. When the early Christians were driven out of Jerusalem, those that made it elsewhere took along with them their local belief as Jews. This to the new proselytes meant accepting the two together and adding local belief systems to the mix was termed syncretism. In Egypt particularly the religion from which coincidentally the burgeoning religion had borrowed many aspects of its mythology, was set aside for the new. This was the main or part of the reasons why from the Arab invasion Egyptian Christianity could not cope with mass conversions to Islam – this after four solid centuries of achievement.
It is most heartrending that while spreading these newfangled faiths to Africa, none of either of them gave the old ways of people a doubter’s benefit. All our forebears had taken centuries to build were wholly and entirely swept under the carpet as primitive. Even concepts that would have served to endear the new faiths to the converted were labelled as belonging of the devil, worthy of nothing but the desuetude of oblivion. The proselytized in the same vein never questioned what they were taught. With the zeal of new converts, they even disowned their families and abandoned their homesteads for less than morsels of porridge served up as assurances to salvation after they must have died.
Opposed to their preachments of an omnipotent and omnipresent Supreme Being, they in no way try to explain why perhaps due to their untoward intrusion newer evils hitherto assuaged by local mores now plague the land on end. They even end up locating Him – o yes – to specific spots to which their adherents from all over the world paid regular visits that apart from offering abundant grace also enrich the respective home countries in recompense. These are fanned on by local clergy who end up inventing all kind of new fables to keep the people in line. Offensive old prayers are replaced with more compliant ones just to maintain the status quo.
Alien customs are not only introduced to supplant homemade ones but even dressing codes are altered to favour that of outright visitors who did not get a hang of what they had met on arrival in the continent. Practical modes of existence are condemned and passed off as of the devil whose colour is attributed to ours. In the urge to have our souls as white as snow as we are admonished, everything foreign is now way to go. Even houses are built as though we have cold seasons all through and not our God-given all-year summer. And the beat goes on – and on.