For many the missionary represents the face of good in a world of evil. The missionary is considered the emissary of God called to bring deliverance to a ‘lost and dying’ world. He/she is seen as a guiding hand, chosen to turn the nations away from ‘sin’ and degradation, to a life of enlightenment and righteousness.
In many instances however. the opposite is true. Repeatedly the missionary, is and has been, nothing but an agent of the colonial powers, both governmental and corporate. Their peaceful, loving, caring, helpful demeanor, is many times used as a pretext in order to establish the agenda of their imperial directorate.
The Missionary In Africa
Africa’s many atrocities bears witness to this. These atrocities being primarily facilitated and inflicted on it, by those who claim to be the bringers of good news. Good news they are indeed for the imperialist powers, bad news for the inhabitants.
In the book ‘Abo, A Woman of Kongo’, author Ludo Martens quotes an African woman thus:
“Our ancestors were free and independent in their country. One day Whites came to colonize them…Whites forced us to pay taxes and to execute hard labour. Then they sent us priests with the mission to convince us to work voluntarily for Whites. We didn’t even want to listen to them. Then they grabbed small children from their mothers on the pretext that they were orphans. These children worked hard in farms in order to learn the religion of the Whites!
Little by little they imposed their religion on us. What is it telling us? It teaches us that we must not love money; we must love the good Lord. But them, don’t they love money? Their companies like the Oil Mills of Belgian Congo are earning tens of millions thanks to our sweat. Not loving money is accepting a slave job for a starvation salary.
They also forbid us to kill. But them, don’t they kill? Here in Kilamba in 1931, they massacred over one thousand villagers. They (their priests) forbid us to kill only to prevent us from fighting the occupying forces. Priests also forbid us to steal. But them, they stole from us our country, our lands, all our wealth, our palm groves. When a Black man steals, he has to tell it at the confession to the priest. Then the priest runs to inform the White boss and the authorities and the Black man is expelled from his job and put in prison.”
Modesty With A Purpose
British political activist Bertrand Russell in his book: ‘The Impact Of Science On Society’, informs us of the critical role the missionary played in the development of the cotton trade. Because of the mechanization of the cotton industry at the turn of the eighteenth century plus cheap and/or slave African labour, cotton production increased significantly. As a result, there was the need to develop new markets for their expanded production. This is where the missionary played a most significant role. Bertrand writes:
“Cotton goods could find a market in India and Africa; this was a stimulus to British imperialism. Africans had to be taught that nudity is wicked; this was done very cheaply by missionaries.”
In other words, you can’t sell cotton to people who are comfortable in their nakedness. How do you turn these people into a market? You inflict them with perpetual guilt and shame. You take that which for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years is natural and turn it into a sin. Consequently, you open for your manufacturers a whole new market.”
The Rwandan Genocide
In the Rwandan genocide some 1 million people were mercilessly slaughtered, while the world deliberately choose to look the other way. In the next article I will point out the pivotal role the missionary, and the church in general, played in the genocide in Rwanda. Not necessarily through sins of omission, but rather through sins of commission.
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