The Blackface Jesus; How Domesticating Jesus Reinvents The Wheel – By Graham Knight
The Ghanaian composer and preacher Emphraim Amu was sacked from his Akropong Presbyterian Training College for wearing the pagan kente cloth and banging those satanic African drums! His aim was to Africanise Christianity. The accusation that Christianity is too ‘white’ is not uncommon amongst Ghanaians and other Africans.
It is true that the depictions of the blonde, blue-eyed Jesus are historically inaccurate but that is not the point. These were images that Europeans could understand and which spoke to them in their own visual language. Mythology is not historically true but it is there to help us find meaning. The depiction of Jesus in this way represents purity in European culture. People may have mistaken the image as truth but none of it is really ‘true’ – it is simply an attempt at expressing the inexpressible. I’m not convinced that blacking up Jesus will address the fundamental problem.
Many intellectuals have argued that god must be worshiped within the context of culture. So that if you are African you worship god in African ways, using traditional drums, modes of dress etc. I am, of course, in total agreement with the principle behind this and that there is nothing wrong with African culture, that it is not pagan, demonic or heathen. But I wonder if these same intellectuals will fully agree with me and take things to their logical conclusion?
The irony is that Ghanaians did use to worship god, presumably the same god that everyone else worshiped, using African forms of worship…and using African mythology. And then they stopped.
They were told they were pagan and heathen and they agreed. And then something bizarre happened. Not only did they start worshiping god in a non-African way but they started using Jewish mythology and followed Jewish leaders!
This makes about as much sense to me as it does for a Ghanaian to become a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) which asserts a mythology only relevant to Americans – that Jesus came to America and that the original Americans were white skinned.
Having discarded the cultural ways of worship they are now attempting to bring it back and reinvent what they already had. I suppose that is not such a bad idea but why not go all the way?
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