When the Chips Fall

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What Africans are Learning from the Pursuits of Men like Dr. Martin Luther King

Hey there people! It feels like ages but I am so glad that I got an opportunity to share something on this sensitive topic. First and foremost, Happy New Year, or as we would say in my country Baraka za Mwaka Mpya Kwenu (Blessings of the new year to you all)!

As the first post on my blog, I want to set the pace for a series of thought-provoking and inspiring pieces throughout the year. This is the first of many that I hope will get the world thinking a little bit more of my voice as a member of the black-African community.

For a long time now, people of African descent have been identified every now and then as “African”; a clear example of this is seen in it’s use as an adjective to describe members of the black community who reside in the US, naming them “African Americans”. As okay as it sounds, it isn’t the full story surrounding the terminology.

African American is not necessarily a substitute for the indicator of people group. Black is the race, African is related to the continent and as such does not make an excellent substitute for the truth. Our identity is black. The question then remains, why do we escape it so?

I was privileged enough to hear from people who have had negative encounters with some people from other racial backgrounds and what they have observed is worth noting. One of the first things that they observed is that black is associated with the worst things imaginable (think about it a little bit…’black plague’, ‘black coal’, ‘black sludge’). I’m sure you get the point. It is very hard to associate oneself with that word…and what seems to happen is that these negative connotations associated with the color itself are somehow pasted onto those whose skin is labeled black or dark (note the words used). This is how Africa itself gained its identity as the ‘Dark Continent’…not a cool name.

But should we run? Martin Luther King Jr showed the African American community–no, scratch that!–the world! That race does and can never determine one’s contribution to society (content of an individual’s character supersedes the color of one’s skin). It is on this very basis that black as a color has over the years been associated with cool, hip, fun and stylish…and it is on this very basis that my fellow black people ought to realise that there is hope for our people. Not because of change of use of the word black, but because of the potential of the black community to be more (so far I feel like we have been up to a lot of “doing”). We are either getting hyped up about immediate wealth/riches or clinging to titles or forms of power.

In us uniting and working together, we can show the world what we are made of as fellow citizens of the world and coequal members of the human race. Africa is probably the richest continent but we underestimate it because we underestimate ourselves. Racial slurs and awful history has affected us negatively and it doesn’t matter whether you were born in Africa or in the West…we’ve suffered but here we are. It’s about time we own our identity as one people and stop bickering and allowing divisions of no consequence to destroy us.

We know pain, we know labor and we know intelligence. How can we let divisions reign in our midst…we are one! All other races ought to work together in like fashion and help destroy the chains that have kept us in fear.

In Jesus’ words, let us love one another…

THE CHRISTIAN HOPE AND THE CONCEPT OF AN UNENDING TOMORROW

WHEN TOMORROW CAN NEVER DIE...

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Hey y’all! I hope that your week has gone well and that Friday the 13th didn’t give you the spooks, because what I have for you is something to give even the dead hope. It’s been such an amazing journey so far with you and I do hope that these posts do make a difference in someone’s life. If you have been following my posts, I thank you; if you have just gazed upon this post and thought it worth the while to read it, I thank you too: These posts are made for your benefit and interest. I gain nothing from these posts by the way, just a smile or two…:-)and sometimes that’s all we hope our words do to others. We are people after all, broken and flawed but still possessing so much more beneath the surface that can be tapped into if we only transition.

What’s odd about the concept of transition is that it truly is a longing deeply rooted in the human soul and psyche. Buddhism describes the best transition as being likened to that of the butterfly that has emerged from a caterpillar; the Greeks described transition as sacrificial, likening the process to a snake shedding off its skin and today, people are finding meaning behind a full gender change. What these three entirely different worldviews show us is that although we have the need, we do not–as of now understand why we do have this urge. Something I would like to point out at this time though is that we have dealt with this issue from a moralistic point of view as Christians and done a lot of damage in the process because we do not fully understand what our faith is about, and that is, transition.

The idea is, what Jesus has done for man is so beautiful that the best way that the Apostle Paul could frame it in the New Testament is, “Now we only see (this thing) dimly as in a mirror…but we await the reality”. It is too hard to give it a natural equivalent. In short, the message that Jesus gives us from both his life and teachings are phenomenally radical. He offers a full transition to the Kingdom of the Light and to a new nature, life, worldview and Kingdom. But here’s the twist, it isn’t a new idea. Way back in Genesis, when God was creating and ordering his work, he structured the days as night transitioning into the morning.

It was thought that this move echoed the life of the free Hebrew when he/she had been brought out of Egypt. What’s even more peculiar is that although some make it seem like it was so glum for all Israel, it really wasn’t in the eyes of the modern reader: they argued with Moses that they ate well, that they had enough for themselves (and no one comes up to deny these claims, you can actually check it out), finally Moses is described (although he was a prince, as living a life filled with the pleasures of sin). It doesn’t look so bad now until we look back and see that darkness isn’t just torture or some deep magic or evil cult worship or stuff like that, but serving our appetites and doing what pleases us. This is the one thing makes us stuck in a loop and makes transition a fading thought.

Then it hits us, perhaps there is more going on in our lives than we realize! Please don’t mistake this post as being hateful and moralistic but as a theological expression of what’s truly going on with the human condition. After all, is it not written that God gives us the ability to will for good according to his will? Why then do we do things as we want, not as he directs us? I too fall in this category, I am by all means no exception. But there is hope. Hope that refreshes us. The movement of the days from darkness (night) into the day (morning) is a reflection of what God does with us when we follow him…whether sprinting or with baby steps, we transition.

That’s where the Bible makes it more interesting when it points out that the act of following God is not some cut and dry religious experience. It actually breeds life, “Though weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning”…our pain is relieved; “His mercies are new every morning, great is your faithfulness”, he gives us what we need most and never forsakes us even when we slip, slide or fall. That’s the transition that Jesus offers each and every one of us. It is a reflection of what we as human beings are desperately crying for, change, identity, purpose, belonging, meaning and peace. It is an echo of what is to come when Jesus comes back tomorrow…