Easter is just around the corner. In this part of the world, the faithful are getting ready to go to their various pilgrimages. There is something about Africans and religion. I cannot explain it. But it would appear to me that many Africans are very literal in their interpretation of the scriptures. That is why you have so many of them preparing to undertake long journeys to connect with their religion. I wonder if history has anything to do with it. We must remember that at the beginning, religion was forced down the throats of poor Africans. All along, they had been content to worship their ancestors. But when the white man came, he told the African that his ancestors were good for nothing and had to be ditched. I suppose the African didn?t like to be told that about his favourite ancestors. Certainly, the African protested but soon behaved himself when he saw the barrel of the gun. So historians are right. Many Africans took up Western religion through forced conversion. But to be fair to all the major religions, they were all forced on the African. That happened ages ago. Things have now changed. The Africans liberated themselves and ran their own countries.
That, of course, gave them the opportunity to reject the imposed religion and embrace the ancestors.
Although quite a number of Africans have reconnected with their ancestors, they are still wedded to the religion they were converted to. That is why over the course of the coming weekend many will be embarking on their pilgrimages. Like I said, the African is literal in their interpretation of religion. I know that my grandmother takes these things seriously. As she prepares to go on pilgrimage she does actually believe in the resurrection. She is convinced that the pious looking white man with blue eyes and long blond hair is set to be resurrected again, once and for all. But what I think captivates the African even more is the prospect of life after death.
As an African who is not quite religious I know of many people who feel scandalized when I tell them I don?t foresee myself rising from the dead. I go beyond that by telling them that the moment they die, they too will never rise from the dead. If anyone is going to rise from the dead again it will be the pious man with blue eyes and flowing blond hair. When I was a kid I used to be dragged to church. I didn?t like it one bit. I mean there were better things to do such as play with my friends. And when we discovered the catalogue it was more exciting to spend our time poring over the pictures of semi nude white women. But off to church we were forced. In our homes, religious pictures were hung on the wall. I remember, in particular, one picture that showed a mass of people on a long path which reached a crossroads at which they were split into the good and bad. At the crossroads the good would emerge from a valley all dressed up in white and holding candles. The bad lot would also be shown going to meet their fate in the fires of hell.
The picture scared me and convinced me to strive to be in the good group who ended up dressed in white. But something in me said life seemed a bit more exciting with the other lot. Before reaching the crossroads this group was shown drinking and dancing. They were generally having a good time before being dispatched to hell. I cannot claim to be a good man. I ended up drinking and having a good time like the bad people in that picture. The same goes for my friends. There were chaps who were altering boys at church. I never made it to that stage. I can only guess the priests saw something they couldn?t quite place about me. So I ended up in the pews admiring the boys in fine gowns pouring wine for the priest. Well, those boys are busy drinking lots of wine right now. If we were to follow the logic of that picture, they would be joining the bad crowd to burn in hell.
The point I want to make is that as we head towards Easter, many of us are going to pause and wonder if we chose the right path. We are going to be told by the religious lot that if we continue in our bad ways then we are on route one to hell. We will be warned to embrace religion before it is too late. But why is it that in spite of the many warnings we still persist in our bad ways? I think it?s because religion does not offer certain things. It does not offer fun. It seeks to intimidate and frighten us. It seeks to suggest that all the things we like are bad.
Now that is not the right way to covert people. If religion wants us to come along, it must promise us the lovely things in life. It must make our dreams come true. Everyone has a dream. Everyone dreams of the one thing that will make them happy. As some people dream of rising from the dead next to Jesus, I dream of more practical things. I dream of being rich. I dream of going to America. I dream of marrying a white woman. If religion wants me to join its ranks it must tell me how to achieve my dreams. I have moved beyond the catalogue we used to ogle at when we were kids. I am now into serious magazines that show nude women. As the pilgrims celebrate Easter, I will be enjoying my drinks and poring over my magazines. That is my idea of fun. If anybody is going to pray for me then they?d better do it right. They must pray for me to be rich and get a white woman. If getting a white woman is too difficult then I can settle for an Indian. If my dreams come true then next year I will also join the Easter pilgrimage. C?mon you religious types get a new convert by helping me become rich and getting a white woman. I am ready to join the good crowd celebrating Easter. But only if I am rich and in the company of my white lady, or at least an Indian.