The Old Gods
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?”
“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!”
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?