HAVE you ever sat down to reflect on how Europe with so many millions of people who don’t believe in God, has less maternal mortality rate than Zambia where our mothers pray everyday and never miss Sunday worship?
The difference is not the amount of faith or God loving white people more but the quality of primary health care or the lack of it.
To understand the extent to which religion is more of a yoke than it is an emancipatory tool that can lead to economic success in Africa, allow me to take you back a little.
When Belgian missionaries set out to Congo, now the DRC, King Leopold II instructed them that their knowledge of the gospel was to be used to preach scripture ordering and encouraging their followers to love poverty, like “Happier are the poor because they will inherit heaven” or “It’s very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
He reminded them to detach “negros” from, and make them disrespect, everything which gave them courage to affront them (Belgians). The Missionaries went a step further. They gave us an education or was it?
Colonial education by the Missionaries was not education, but training. Its purpose was not to educate a person to critically understand the objective limits to economic progress, but to train a person to accept a political status quo that an African is dependent on his colonial masters.
It was used to create a mindset of blind loyalty rather than to open our minds to independent and rational way of thinking generally referred to as critical thinking.
The blind loyalty syndrome present today in our political parties is an inheritance from the teachings of our colonial masters.
A distorted religion which was meant to crop a docile African who would not raise a finger against his colonisers meant, in effect, detaching an African from reality.
An African would rather pray for rain in place of devising policies that are meant to drive us to harnessing solar energy or investing in irrigation farming.
With God in the driving seat, we are comfortable to be at the back seat but get surprised when buses driven by, who we term, satanists overtake us.
Three years ago, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame closed down 6, 000 churches and arrested nine pastors for alleged subversion. The closure was meant to tighten rules on registration and the functioning of churches because of security concerns and the rising cases of fraud.
“Seven hundred churches in Kigali? Are these boreholes that give people water?” asked Kagame when he heard that more than 700 churches had been closed down by authorities. “I don’t think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? But 700 churches, which you even had to close? This has been a mess!”
Kagame did not attack the Church, the Church still exists. He attacked a problem that has led millions in Africa into destitution as worshipping has shifted from God to leaders in Church often referred to as Papa.
Today it’s common for a wife at home to be loyal to a Papa than her husband. How many Papas have fathered kids with married congregants? This is mostly caused by the poverty of the mind which is, once again, lack of proper education.
The issues we are faced with, cannot be solved through prayer: government corruption, lack of education, health care, and poverty, compounded by stifling urbanisation that reduces production in rural areas and leads to greater unrest in the growing urban hives.
Poverty, according to sociologist Peter Townsend, is more than a lack of money. Rather, it’s a complex spectrum of deficient social relationships and exclusion from a perceived normal life that impacts a person’s well-being. Churches are filled with poverty stricken followers and we know that people raised in poverty make poverty-prone decisions such as tithing all they have to become wealthy through God’s blessings and end up raising their children in poverty. It’s an unending cycle.
We will only solve most of our problems when we remove God from the economic equation during problem solving unless we are praying for wisdom or our prayers are those of thanksgiving.
We are not rich by what we possess but rather by our ability to grow our possessions from nothing with our minds and our hands.
Is it not funny how Government is quick to give out relief food to the poor, and it is happy to receive accolades but when you ask it why its people are poor, you get into trouble.
Misplaced religion teaches us to be reactive than it pushes us to be proactive. Prayer is not part of an economic equation. Let’s, therefore, expect more from science and technology than from miracles in church.
MPANDASHALO EVANS MWEWA.