By Sainey Faye
In his book ‘Consciencism – Philosophy And ideology For decolonization’ Kwame Nkrumah notes:-
“With true independence regained, however, a new harmony needs to be forged, a harmony that will allow the combined presence of traditional Africa, Islamic Africa, and Euro-Christian Africa, so that this presence is in tune with the original humanistic principle uderlying African society.Our society is not the old society, but a new society enlarged by Islamic and Euro-Christian influences.”
“When one society meets another, the observed historical trend is that acculturation results in a balance of forward movement, a movement in which each society assimilates certain useful attributes of the other. Social evolution is a dialectical process;it has ups and downs, but on balance it always represents an upward trend. Islamic civilization and European colonialism are both historical experiences of the traditional African society, profound experiences that have permanently changed the complexion of the traditional African society.
All religions in principle and in essence proclaim the oneness of the human family,
and require their believers to treat everyone fairly and justly. Most scholars who studied religions find that they all have an underlying principle of equality, freedom, and justice for all people. The problem then is how people used it, distort it, and used it for or against the people.
The late African scholar, Cheikh Anta Diop noted in one of his books “Precolonial Black Africa” that “Mohammedan Black Africa in the Middle Ages was no less original than Christian Europe at the close of antiquity. Both continents were invaded in the same way by alien monotheistic religions which ended up being at the foundation of the entire sociopolitical organization, ruling philosophical thought, and carrying forward intellectual and moral values during these whole period.”
He further notes that “to recapitulate, then, in the Middle Ages the religious superstructure played an equally important role in Europe and in Africa.Christianity gave the West politico-administration organization, and ensured the continuity of historical consciousness. Islam in Black Africa, merely superimposed itself on the politico-administrative organization: even when, in consequence of the cosmopolitanism of the period, a foreigner (Arab or otherwise) was invested with a position by the sovereign, he bore the indigenous title.
In Europe, as in Islamized Black Africa, the notion of the seven arts, that is, the trivium and the quadrivium, was carried forward…..”.
Overall, we see in the last two centuries how religion was used in the service of the revolution worlwide. Religion and Revolution had been used in the struggle in complementary fashion; especially when they uphold the genuine interests and aspirations of humanity. We can name numerous occasions, both in Africa,
the Middle-East, and even in the Diaspora were it has been used as a tool of liberation. O.K. — let’s say Africa.
El Mussulmani king of Mali or traditionally known as Baramendana Keita (1050), Ousman Dan Fodio (1801), El Hadj-Omar (a.k.a. Cheikh Futiou) (1850), Ahmadu Ahmadu (1884), these were religious conquerors of the Sudan in the nineteenth century. Or, the Mahdi (1881) known as liberator of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.
Or still nearer to home Samory Toure, Cheikh Amadou Bamba and many, many others that can be named or listed. In Southern Africa we have seen leaders like Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rev. Sithole, and many more in the struggle.
In the Diaspora, many leaders of the resistance movements were also religious leaders, for the most part; and they saw no contradiction between revolution and religion. Unbearable living and working condtions, have created leaders like Nat Turner, Denmark Vessy, Sojourner Truth, Bishop Allen,Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rev.Jesse Jackson, Rev. Andrew Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery. This is only to name a few, in North America.
South America, the Carribbean, and the West Indies have also had numerous leaders that can be listed.
As African people our religions may not be the same; but we can and must live in harmony with each other.