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Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

It seems that sensationalism is what makes for news in the media. When it comes to African culture, nothing is more sensational than the negative stereotypes and controversial practices of African traditions. This tends to incite many natives of the continent…

The representation of Africa as a country devoid of its own profound spiritual dimension or of a religion worthy of its name goes to complete, and in some measure to justify, this picture made of unfounded generalizations and distorted or omitted information; a picture which describes a continent whose inhabitants and communities – mostly considered to be rural – would be entwined in an inextricable tangle of often cruel and bloody ancestral rites, superstitions, absurd and childish beliefs and atavistic fears which block their personal capacities, initiative and development possibilities…(the full story here)

One would think that acts of violence, such as rape, pedophilia and abuse only happens as a result of the “irrational superstition” of traditional cultures, with Christianity upheld as redemption for the primitive soul of black folks. Of course, it’s even better to “africanize” Christianity with a black Jesus to nullify inquiring minds.

Regardless, it is admirable to note that Tau Tawengwa, a native of Zimbabwe, suggests that perhaps it’s accountability, not cultural eradication and religious imperialism, should be the focus of our efforts to address harmful practices. Of his own country and the tradition of (the ancient spiritual and traditional practices of the Shona people), he invites change by stating that…

While the constitution [of Zimbabwe] also allows freedom of religion, perhaps it is appropriate for the state to smoke out rogue “healers” and formulate and propagate a code of conduct for Chivanhu practitioners.

Who would disagree with such rationality? If we were to maintain the mindset of western imperialism, we would throw out the baby and keep the bath water.

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