Changing the way others see us. Part I
AFRICA, still a relatively unknown country.
Occasionally, I think I lurk in the twilight zone of the internet and I should be looking for new places. There is a blog I read called the Boar’s Head Tavern which is an online conversation between a group of Christians mostly from the USA but also the UK and Canada. I find it very interesting and educative because they come from very different viewpoints. The subjects discussed are wide ranging and I confess that sometimes, the deep theology is above my “Sermon on the Mount” level of understanding.
Unfortunately, there appears to be no brother represented on the blog so anytime anything about Blacks or Africans comes up it is quite interesting and sometimes burdensome to read the thoughts of my Christian brothers. Some of these Christian brothers could be your next door neighbor in the college dormitory, apartment, town house or suburban single family home but attend a different Church. Or, they may be the people who sit next to you in the local Church you have made your home.
It was very educative and enlightening to read the discussion there in the aftermath of Don Imus and the Rutgers Basketball team. Recently the subject turned to AIDS and Africa and the vast sums the government of President Bush has provided in aid for research and treatment. Remember that this is a blog which operates in the manner of a bar and patrons come and go, and grant that in a bar-like atmosphere, a lot of banter goes on and as the wine flows, lips and fingers on a keyboard get loosened and careless talk is possible. Here is the comment that troubled me.
Can you severely curb AIDS in Africa with a court decision? No. Obviously not. The barbarous, animalistic sexual morality of a huge number of men and women on that continent and the crushing poverty/religious strictures that turn many women to prostitution is not something one can end by the USSC simply saying “No, AIDS is not allowed according to the Constitution.” Posted by: xxxxx @ 2:59 pm
I decided to send the following email to the writer.
"Please tone it town a bit. There are quite a few "African" Christians who read the Boar's Head Tavern blog. I certainly do, very often. There is varied opinion there and I do not expect to agree with everything but "barbarous, animalistic sexual morality" takes it a bit too far. Don't believe everything you read wherever you get your information from. Get to know some real Africans and if you get a chance, pay a visit to an African country and get yourself pleasantly surprised.I did not get any reply from him but at least I thought he would think carefully before writing such broad generalizations. Fortunately, someone else on the blog took the writer to task and asked him to justify his assertions but he maintained his position, which does not surprise me. On the internet, people seldom ever admit they could be wrong, let alone change their positions.
The average unregenerate African is really no different morally from the average unregenerate American.
A few days later, I was reading through the same blog again and came across this by another completely different writer still on the "the AIDS crisis". Honestly, this takes the biscuit
African Sexual morals are a difficult question because their culture has certain practices that would break out of the Christian paradigm. For example, it is very common in Africa that when a women’s husband dies (from Aids or anything) that his surviving brother is supposed to have sex with her to cleanse her of grief etc.
There’s also a lot of incest. I don’t think it would be fair to judge these cultures as more “immoral” but there’s an awful lot of intercourse going on between unmarried couples.
Then again, there’s lots of stuff I don’t understand. College educated African men beat their college educated African wives just like some parents here spank their toddlers. Posted by xxxx @ 6:24 pm
You hear this kind of stuff on AM Talk Radio; three years ago when the circumstances of life caused me to make a fortnightly 7 hour journey from Pennsylvania to Connecticut to spend weekends with my family until we were reunited, similar uninformed talk by Radio Hosts and their callers was useful in keeping me awake during the long drive. However, is there any excuse for a Christian brother to be writing something like that or is ignorance or wrong information an excuse?
I really do not care to address the misrepresentation, misconception and borderline prejudice in these statements. For one thing, I do not think these two writers mean any malice. I do not intend to flame anyone and that is why I have not placed any direct links to the blog in question, though it is easy to find. My intention is for us to examine ourselves and see how best we respond to such situations in real life, not the faceless internet.
One can argue that before we also arrived in the UK or the USA, we also had a much skewed mentality; we thought the streets were paved with platinum, and milk and corn syrup flowed from the taps. Our idea of America was largely based on LA Law, the Cosby Show and well, the Bronx Warriors. Our idea of the UK was a genteel society where they drank tea at 3 o'clock, cats talked to the Queen etc, okay not really. So then, why should I blame a well meaning Christian brother if in this great information age, he has a picture of Africa we don't recognize?
There is a tendency in the press to make generalizations about sub-Saharan Africa which in actuality comprises a very diverse people and culture. So from time to time, I will post brief lessons here for any interested parties.
Africa is a diverse continent with 54 different countries. Ghana, a small country in West Africa the size of the US State of Oregon contains a diverse group of 24 million people speaking at least 50 completely different languages. The national language is English, which is also the language of instruction in school. - Robbo
BALANCE, POLARIZATION and the Child of God