I Still Go To School

on teaching, learning, travelling

The Old Gods and the New

2 Comments

The Old Gods

One of the many busses with "Dieu", many other have Bible verses on them. Ignore the bullet holes.

One of the many busses with “Dieu”, many other have Bible verses on them. Ignore the bullet holes.

At our school, we have kids who are Christian: Catholic, Protestant. We also have kids who are Muslim, also some with Jewish background. The dialogues are quite interesting, considering that the school provides a Christian American curriculum. Sometimes the Muslim kids complain about having to study about the Bible and Jesus. They tell me (mostly when studies are tough),

“I’m a Muslim, I don’t need to study the Bible!”

I ask them, “So then why are you at a school with a Christian curriculum?”

“My parents put me here.”

“Are your parents Muslim?”

“Of course!”

“Then they are wise people.”

As of 2008, 38,6% of Ivorians are Muslim, 32,8% Christian, and 28% African Indigenous (wiki). Generally speaking, in Westafrica, the North of the countries is majority Muslim, and the South mainly Christian. The cities, especially Abidjan, are completely mixed, though.

Especially these days when you hear about groups such as Boko Haram terrorizing in the name of God, and the killing of Muslims in Central African Republic, having kids of different background, nationality, ethnicity and faith in the same class truly crosses borders. With the right sense of mediation, this kind of coeducation helps to prevent future misunderstandings and conflicts.

Quite striking when arriving from Austria is the quantitative jump of church attendance here. Sunday morning is Church Time. The pastors are like rockstars here. The Archbishop Duncan from Ghana has an own police escort plus three Escalades and a Hummer. While we were stuck in traffic, police ploughed his way through the masses. Truly a man of God, with the purse of a King (the former may be debatable). On TV you may watch some preachers putting their congregation into trance and people fainting when he touches their heads. They have definitely developed their own style of worship, with dances, drums and chanting. I would recommend to anybody to partake in a service like this, even just for the experience. As the pastors are rockstars, the service becomes a rock concert 😉

The New Gods

“And the white man comes directly after God!”

is what a friend told me recently. “Because they can do so many things that no black man can do!”

“But what is it they do?”

“They can build roads; all the companies for construction, they are not from here!”

The new God: Jack Bauer!

The new God: Jack Bauer!

 

"Thank you, mother". You may not fear God, but you better fear your mother ;)

“Thank you, mother”. You may not fear God, but you better fear your mother 😉

papa_lacoste

Lacoste, Gucci and DG are popular brands to show off your money. Of course you can buy them at the market for 2 €.

While the tourguide at the national heritage museum was mourning the disappearance of African Indigenous religions, others welcome the change and see it as development.

So I ask the questions:

  • Concerning the growing middle class, who try to copy the “European (middle class) Dream”, how will secularisation affect the local culture?
  • Is the decline of spirituality inevitably connected to the rise of wealth? Why (not) in Africa?
  • In the perspective of diversity and preservation, should indigenous religion and culture be encouraged and developed?

 

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2 thoughts on “The Old Gods and the New

  1. I also went to an Christian American curriculum school with mixed attendance and the same complaints about studying something from a different religion came around during exam time. I guess people use excuses that sound most logical to complain about things that take more effort. Sort of like “expected” complaints.
    And from my own experience between the Middle East and Europe, it isn’t that there is more spirituality in one region than the other, though there is a difference in the standard of living. But the reliance on religious organizations is much higher in a place with a lower standard of living. Religion isn’t a reflection of spirituality in my opinion.
    It is always good to remember ones past to help build a better future.

    • Sergej! cool you are on wordpress, it’s been a while 🙂 Yeah I also think it’s mainly a complaint, interesting how identifying oneself with a certain religion kicks in in the weirdest moments of threat.
      It’s true, people are flooding to the churches, but it’s more of a social event than a place of spiritual growth. It’s quite sad tbh, I think there would be so many precious things to learn, but the notion of teaching and improving oneself/the country/world is hardly ever present.
      So… is Lebanon past and future?

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