|PROGRAM 3, NEW GODS
Dr. Ali Mazrui starts this documentary by looking at Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, there is a marketplace of ideas. In the beginning, within traditional African beliefe, there were many gods and deities. While there was one High God, but lesser deities also existed. All elements of nature were expressions of this High God. The pyramids represent the immortality of ancient Egyptian pharoahs. In these pharoahs, the human and divine were one. To ancient Egyptians, death was just a "change of address". In Nigeria, ancestors are invited back in masked ceremonies. Just as the Virgin Mary intercedes to God for the Roman Catholics, animal offerings intercede to deities for Africans. In Senegal, cow blood is used to ease the suffering of a woman. Dr. Ali Mazrui sees this as analogous to Jesus' blood of atonement of sin.
Then there came the Christian God. Christianity came to Ethiopia long before British Christians even existed. The first monastery was developed in Africa. Nevertheless, biblical imagery equates white with purity and black with evil. Christianity was based on the written word, for the Bible needed to be read and understood. About 700 years ago, Christian shrines were carved into the mountains, rather than built up from a foundation. In North Africa, a French cathedral has been turned into a library. Here, Christianity has become irrelevant because it did not accommodate to the Africans there. In Catholic Zaire, a Baptist church has become relevant through the martyrdom of its leader. These Baptists re-enact Christ's suffering. A Christian church in Zimbabwe prays for the liberation of South Africa. Christian churches were once against armed liberation, and now they pray for racial equality.
The single God concept was not new in Africa. Akenhatem, 2000 years before Muhammed, worshiped one God: the Sun. With the Islamic religion, the lunar calendar became important. In traditional Islam, women were segregated and isolated. Liberated Muslim women see themselves as more equal to the status of men. In Senegal, there is another Mecca for the Muslims. African Muslims make pilgrimages there to see Amadu Bamba's tomb. Amadu Bamba worked to make Islamic boarding schools where there was instruction in the Koran, and an emphasis on agricultural production.
And now, there is the Marxist ideal of revolution without a divine presence.
In modernity, there is an emphasis placed on enjoyment and entertainment,
rather than the worship of the divine. A threat of violence lurks
as modernity can be at odds with Islam. Anwar Sadat is killed as
he signs a peace accord with Israel, giving Islam's third holiest city,
Jerusalem, to Israel. Islamic holy wars, called jihads, justify the
killing of such a "traitor". There are different versions of this
tension in Nigeria and Sudan. Africa now has competing ideals of
traditional Africa, Christianity, Islam, and modernity.