Teaching Myself How To Love: A Journey Into The Spirit Of Our Ancestors (Entry 3)

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Entry 3: White Codes, Black faces 

Africa, the land itself has a way of soothing my soul, when I land I forget who I am to the rest of the world; I am no longer perceived as a second class citizens because of the color of my skin, in a land were everyone is black, Africa serves as a reminder that no matter where you are from, as a black person, she will always be your home.

However, as poetic and magical as the African soil is, Africans themselves are torn between two realities. Whereas in America the issue lies within being treated differently because of the color of our skin in Africa the struggle lies between accepting who we are. The identity crisis faced by Africans is rooted in the false belief: that everything that comes from the west is superior. This is a problem because it doesn’t give room for Africans to respect their origins, or better yet respect  themselves.

Now, I cannot talk about identity being stripped away from black people, without mentioning the role that religion played. First though, it is extremely important that I stress that as long as the spirituality that you practice brings you love and peace, it should be welcomed. However the arrival of western religions on the continent, specifically Christianity was never intended to bring love or peace to our people. Religion was a vicious tool used by the oppressors to reinforce the false belief that everything that comes from the west is superior. Quotes like this extract found in King Leopold II’s letter to his missionaries who were heading to Congo, which stated

 “You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire above all Belgium interests. Your principle objective in our mission in Congo is never to teach the Nigger to know god, this they know already….”

Exemplify the role that Christianity played in oppressing Africa. It was the delicate balance between evangelization and violent tactics from the colonials, that tore our continent and its people apart. I was raised on Christian values, and I can assure you that to go in a church were you have to kneel in front of “a savior”  figure, depicted as a Caucasian male with blue eyes has a strong negative impact on the psyche of a young African girl.

 

Heading to Benin:

I arrived to the Ivory Coast on January 2nd 2018; I wanted to spend a little  time with my family before heading to the republic of Benin for the Voodoo festival and to organize my retreat. When Ivorians asked why I was going to Benin, I was reluctant to answer; when I did answer I was received with strong oppositions. But as uncomfortable as it felt to be criticized, it was also very funny. People’s responses were blurred between a mixture of fear and interest. They were intrigued, of course not because they cared for my well-being, but because as much as Africans want to deny the power of their ancestors they cannot run away from who they are. It is very common for Africans to go to church or mosque every Sunday or Friday yet in the face of crisis turn to the powerful marabous or witch doctors for help.

We cannot run away from who we are, these ancestral spiritual practices are at the root of who we are as people of the diaspora, know that if you fear what your ancestors practiced you fear aspects of yourself.

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-Chef Wilizé

wilize maleombho