“Human beings have a need to worship hence from time immemorial we have worshiped almost everything that we thought provided us with spiritual fulfilment”. These were the words of my fellow student at a technikon I was attending and who was a ‘Born Again’ Christian as she was trying her utmost to convert me into her faith.
Her statement referred to human beings as polytheists who needed to adopt a monotheistic believe and follow Jesus Christ. She spoke the ‘right words’ about our need to worship but what she was actually driving at, was to convert me into her faith. The need to worship is not necessarily about one being Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Jewish, but it is our connection or connectivity with the universe that enables our need to worship.
The universe, defined as All Creation, existed long before any religion did. Therefore religion does not define our relationship with the universe but our relationship is defined by our Spirituality! The stars, galaxies, planets and by extension here on earth; human beings, plants and animals are all ‘connected’ to the universe by this spiritual connection.
The two forces that govern the universe, the Force of Light and of Darkness constantly give instructions, commands, laws, rules, wisdom, values, morals, etc. to all creation and hence I call these forces, “The Authority”. They use the spiritual medium to communicate these commands to stars, planets, galaxies, human beings, animals and plants. Ours is to obey the laws given to us! This phenomenon is called spirituality.
But this spiritual connection can break and when it does, chaos results! What causes the break in spirituality?
It is the relentless suffering of the soul, body and mind! When people are subjected to slavery, colonialism and every manner of oppression over prolonged periods of time, they will ‘lose’ the spiritual connection. And when this happens they will be like a planet that has been nudged off its orbit, orbiting in the wrong direction, set on a collision course with other planets.
The African people are a classic example of this! I wish to tread carefully here!
All nations suffered some form of slavery, colonialism, oppression or something similar throughout their existence! The English suffered colonialism under The Romans, Vikings and the Normans. All European countries were invaded by foreign countries as well. Asian countries were no exception and so did the Americas. But what happens after the conquest is what is at the heart of this discussion!
It could be said that invasions by other countries had some ‘benefit’ to the vanquished in that Britain became the conqueror of other nations, so did many European countries. China is the second largest economy after over 50 years ago of colonialism under Japan. Brazil, Indian, etc. are other examples. There was definitely a benefit here!
If foreign invasion brought civilisation in Europe, Asia and the Americas but here in Africa it brought devastation, what went wrong? Or was colonisation ought to have been applied differently to Africa as it was in other parts of the world? The answer is very simple!
All these countries mentioned here, have a spiritual institution that unified their people during the era of colonialism and slavery. They remained connected to the universe despite their ordeals. Buddhism for the Asian people, maintained a spiritual connection with the universe thereby lessening the impact of the conquest by Japan, Britain and other countries.
Hinduism ensured continued spiritual survival for the Indians. Islam made certain that Iran, Iraq and other Muslim countries remain steadfast in their spiritual resolve to defeat colonialism.
The colonial impact that was felt by Africa was as a result of the spiritual resilience or spiritual institutionalisation that did not exist for Africans. We simply did not have a spiritual way of life that unified us (long before colonialism) to resist the impact colonialism was to have in the years to come. Please do not tell me about ubuntu or ancestral veneration because every nation has some degree of belief in ancestral worship yet they developed spiritual institutions over and above the veneration of ancestors!
This clearly demonstrates to us something that is profound and that was never present in the African life. Islam has Prophet Muhammad, Judaism has Moses, Christians have Jesus Christ, Hindus have Lord Krishna, who do Africans have? If you are going to tell me that Africans have Jesus I would tell you to read the Bible again! Jesus is for all.
But where do prophets come from? Are they self-made or God-sent?
I believe they are God-sent and this is the way the universe ensures our continued relationship with it so that we may not perish as a nation. So that we may not be devastated and expended by human-made cataclysms such as slavery, colonisation and apartheid! So that we may forever remain spiritually connected to the universe! Much in the same vain as God had sent Jesus to the world!
I ask still the question, where is our prophet? Our prophet is Nelson Mandela. He is god-sent! He is the embodiment of human sacrifice, reconciliation, love for one another, social cohesion, peace, prosperity, etc. all qualities rolled into one.
If we do not embrace a God-sent prophet, we will remain forever disconnected from the universe, the source that gives life. We shall forever be subjected to slavery of the mind, body and soul, be invaded by foreign ideals and beliefs, we will remain a planet off its orbit, on a collision course with our fellow people, always fighting among ourselves, practicing witchcraft, jealousy, corruption, excessive violence, killing and pulling each other down.
We will neglect our humanity and blame it on someone else. We will blame apartheid for our situation, as if white people were supposed to be our messiahs, no. They are people like us! They did what they had to in order to advance their course. What is the African course?
White people recognised Jesus Christ as their saviour, look at them now, all dominant and influencing every aspect of our lives. Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism all accepted their spiritual leaders and what have they achieved? They obeyed and responded to the laws of the universe! When the late great Steve Biko said Black man you are on your own, he meant exactly that, we are alone and lost without your prophet!