African presence in Christianity
This may be a hard pill for some to swallow, but the God of Western Christianity and the Jesus of the American church probably were not the divinities our African ancestors worshipped.
Before you totally dismiss this statement saying to yourself: “They’re heathens and devil worshippers anyway,” or “I ain’t African,” take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror, and ask where your enslaved forefathers were kidnapped from, then come back and finish this article.
Ancient Africans—our ancestors—created the foundation of the world. From elaborate buildings that continue to stand against the test of time to the mathematical equations that influence engineering properties to the melodic sounds of poetry, song and philosophical thoughts of life, our daily functions rely on the foundation of our ancestors, not only in the U.S., but also around the globe.
As Africans traveled the world influencing different nations, they took their religion with them. As Europeans invaded Africa, they stole more than land. They stole credit for changing theories, operations, tactics, sciences and even religion, eventually using African influenced thoughts contaminated with Westernized oppression to enslave the very Africans who taught the world.
Some would argue that Africans were Christians long before the oppressor. Some would also argue the oppressor’s pagan religion became Africans’ religion. You be the judge.
Salim Faraji, Africana studies professor at California State University Dominguez Hills says the principles—such as the Immaculate Conception—taught in Western Christianity are simply products of ancient concepts.
“Africa gave rise to, birthed, and really nurtured those cherished principles and values that we see in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam,” Faraji said. “They are actually worshipping in the person of Jesus the divine African King and His queen mother. The reason I’m saying this is (that) the concept of a savior king being born of a virgin, but (who) had sexual communion with a god and gave birth to a god man; (and) a savior king (where) even in death that savior king does not die, but (rises) from the dead; that concept is most ancient in Sudanic Africa.”
The oldest story of the Immaculate Conception predates Jesus’ arrival, and is the story of Ausar a pharaoh of Egypt, his wife Auset and their son Heru. According to ancient inscriptions in the Temple of Luxar by King Amenhotep III, after Ausar’s death, he became a bird and supernaturally conceived their son, Savior King Heru.
Does this story sound a bit like the Holy Spirit, Mary and the birth of Jesus? Ausar was also brought back to life, thus the notion of the resurrection.
The same story is retold in European folklore but with the Greek names of Osiris, Isis and Horus. What language was the New Testament written in? Greek’s wrote the New Testament, therefore strengthening the possibility that African spirituality influenced the formation of Christianity. According to Jean Borgatti, a professor of African art and art history, it is inevitable that there may be connection between ancient African spiritual stories and Christianity.
“The story of the resurrected God-King can be found among the Khoi and San peoples of southern Africa. It is only in Africa that this story is this old,” he writes in an essay entitled “Race and History.” The Black Madonna and child reigned throughout Europe for centuries. The church of Notre Dame at Paris is said to have been built originally on a Temple of Isis (Auset).”
For hundreds of years during slavery in the Western Hemisphere, Africans were conditioned to adopt White Christianity. In an effort to preserve their culture, spiritual sanity and motherland connection, Africans masked their traditional religions and worship of African divinities using the slave master’s religion. Catholicism was the easiest by far to use.
Looking at Yoruba spirituality and similar practices among Africans native on the continent and those in the Diaspora, you will find similarities between Christian and older African spiritual practices, theological principles, divinities and characters.
Research says that in Yoruba practice, the orisaEsu, who is responsible for trying the hearts of man, is represented by Saint Michael the Archangel or the devil in Catholicism. Olodumare—who is the creator, unique, immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, transcendent, king and judge of all—corresponds with the Christian God.
Obatala, a complex deity in the Yoruba tradition has numerous “paths,” including Obatala Oba Moro who is represented by Jesus of Nazarene. This “path” represents Obatala in pain and sacrifice, just as Jesus suffered pain and made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Yoruba religion, from which these orisa come (and African religions of the same type), is an ancient spiritual practice that predates Christianity. In fact, its origins transcend most world religions.
Given all of these similarities, it is not difficulty to accept that many Black Christians are a product of a lineage of the African Diasporic forefathers who adapted to their environment as a population, adopted the majority religion, yet conserved their ancestral foundation.
So what we have today is arguably an agglomeration of African spiritual influences and Westernized religious theology in Christianity created by our forefathers as a means to survive oppressive conditions in the Western hemisphere, while conserving bits of their ancestral roots.
Father’s Day is almost here and it is time that many around the nation pay homage to those whom we often forget played a part in the creation process.
In many religions, God is the epitome of the father. In fact, he is the first father, according to many traditions. But many religions present an interesting twist on the father.
John Miller, author of “Calling God ‘Father’” compares and contrasts the characteristics of the father in Christianity, Eastern and African traditions.
In October, the Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce conducted a two-day Pan African Global Trade Conference at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), which, organizers said, was an important first step in connecting the United States, the African continent, and the African Diaspora in business and trade.
Ancestry is a highly regarded realm of life among many of us in our domestic sectors and even abroad. Many families have a deep reverence for those who have passed on to another life beyond the clouds in heaven or a life among the spirits in a realm unseen by the human eye.
Memorials in honor of the ancestors may remain on mantels in homes, or a small token from their former life may be kept away in a relatives, and loved ones’ secret space.
A number of local business associations advocate investment in the African Diaspora as a means of promoting trade and helping spur the current economy. Together, they are hosting the Pan African Global Trade Conference Oct. 21 and 22 on the Carson campus of California State University Dominguez Hills.
The school is located at 1000 Victoria Ave., Carson, and activities will be held in the Loker Student Union.
Registration is $100 for both days, $50 for one day and half those prices for students.
Christianity in the Black community is one of those confusing pieces of history no one really likes to talk about. The religious institution rests at the heart of the Black community, where movements were mobilized, families saved, and children raised. So, questioning the ‘new to us,’ Westernized religious practices of Christianity would be like shifting the foundations of a treasured 500-year-old building.