A common view among some Afrocentric and pan-Africanist individuals is, considering the roles of Christianity in exploiting the land, that a removal of the same is necessary for nation-building. When slightly qualified, I too agree with this position. And the modification I have in mind is that we understand “Christianity” above as “Colonization Christianity” for the latter is demonstrably distinct and opposed to the great contributions of early Christianity to societies. Someone may still insist, “but keeping any foreign religion in our nations is leaving things open to possible colonialist influences.” Here, I shall disagree. I think such submission is still heavily influenced by the confused polemic proclivity to de-differentiate colonial bastardization of the faith by lumping all relevant facts together. I think instead, assuming we can extract pure Christianity from the mess, that we would not be under colonial manipulations as we would not even view the data with similarly coloured lenses. So, why exactly am I not ditching Christianity altogether in the project of redeeming African heritages? I offer a few thoughts.
To begin with, I am convinced of the veracity of the corejiý of the Christian faith. I think that the Judeo-Christian worldview – which, by the way, is strikingly similar to ancestral Yorùbá beliefs – makes more sense of the world than the alternatives.
Furthermore, I do not subscribe to the epistemic relativism that is common among some critics of religion. They correctly observe that a person’s first exposure to religion is often a function of the geographical accident of their birthplace but then erroneously conclude that no objective truth exists in religion. The implication being that an African ought not to have anything to do with foreign religions. I think that the reasoning here is unsound. It’s highly doubtful that Ọ̀rúnmìlà and other early Yorùbá thinkers would have conceived of their worldview as being static and impervious to outside ideas. I think they would have simply evaluated claims for truth. Also, banishing foreign religions, whatever that may look like and assuming that it is doable, is likely going to make the people useless for nation-building and, hence, be counterproductive since every human needs a worldview to optimally function. It should, of course, be noted that banishment will very likely require several generations before we can expect any fruit from such an undertaking – the kind of time we do not quite have.
Besides, there is no agreement among those calling for the banishment of foreign religions as to what would replace them. Some say naturalism, while others want the reintroduction of our ancestral religions or spiritualities. Still, others naïvely call for no religion at all – this, of course, is impossible for every human has a religion and holds something as absolute. What I am offering is actually more practical. I simply say that, while the debates rage on about what to do long-term, we can at least now agree that my primary audience is religiously Christian. The extent to which I succeed at decolonizing their faith is the extent to which they will potentially be useful for their nation since a decolonized Christianity, I am convinced, would not hinder with nation-building.