Use African worship to decolonise religion

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How did we arrive where we are now as black people? According to my knowledge and history of our grandfathers/mothers, African people didn't find it compatible with their way of life to worship in isolation from various aspects of their lives.

To African people, worshiping was not a specialised function that found expression once a week in a scheduled building, but rather it was featured in their wars, in their umqombothi drinking, their dances and their customs in general.

Through these practices they had no issues and peace used to rule the existence in their respective places.

Why are we allowing Christianity to undermine our valuable and respected religions?

There must be a strong decoloniality of knowledge. Christianity spread knowledge that promoted one religion and undermined others.

All the information being preached in various churches indicates that everything connected to white people is superior while anything belonging to black people is inferior.

As Africans, we must try to revert to our own way of worshiping, where before we drank, we would first relate to ancestors by giving a portion of our beer away as a token of thanks.

When anything went wrong at home, we would offer sacrifice to ancestors to appease them and atone for our sins. Let's try to make use of our own way of aesthetic expression of creating sacred objects, masks, music and dances during rituals.

We have our own and let's focus on it because it is helpful.

From a decolonial perspective, every person has a body, mind and spirit, and these three are inseparable and need to be treated as one entity. Black bodies are not spirit-less. All bodies, either black or white, have useful minds and spirits.

The relationship between the mind, body and spirit cannot be ignored. If you provide the body with the right physical and psychological conditions, it will be better equipped to heal itself. Dehumanising black bodies as spirit-less, and mindless must end. There's no beautiful marble body of whiteness that should become the centre.

On the other hand, Africans must stop looking down on themselves, because indeed "Black is Beautiful". As Africans we must dismiss the racist notion that black people's natural features such as skin colour, facial features and hair are inherently ugly.

As African men and women we must stop trying to eliminate African-identified traits by straightening our hair and attempting to lighten or bleach our skin so that we can look like white people.

No culture is superior to another, meaning that teaching the Christian faith to African people through the medium of Western culture, as many missionaries did on the grounds that traditional African culture was primitive, was a wrong approach, even if the intentions were good.

Vellem, VS, 2014, said: "African religiosity as expressed in African Initiated Churches is the site of the spirituality of liberation. African religiosity does not require inclusion in Western frameworks but equal recognition as a value system amongst others."

- Hlungwani is a student of Decoloniality: Africana Thought, Discourse and Critique at Unisa, and a mentor of the WritePublishRead programme

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