Freeing our minds is an appeal for African peoples to pay particular attention to unprecedented world events taking place at such a rapid pace. The Mayans, our indigenous ancestors of the Caribbean, had informed us that December 2012 would usher in a new dispensation (era), during which truth, justice and righteousness would be experienced in the world.
Within the first two months of 2013 there have been a number of events that will seriously impact our people and will affect future generations negatively if we are not conscious. Some of these events have had a personal impact, causing me to reflect deeply on my life’s experiences over the past 35 years (since 1977). As an African Barbadian living in England this was when I became conscious of who I was not, and began my long search for self. “Man know thyself” (African proverb), “know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.
In my search for self, three recent events have caused me to recall a question put to me in 1977, of which I am only now beginning to appreciate its significance: “What hope is there for black Christians living in a world controlled by white racists, and what if those racists are also called Christians?”
These events are as follows:
On Thursday, January 10, I was invited to visit St George’s Parish Church with some Caucasian Christian visitors from England and we went to see an original painting that represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This unique masterpiece -- the only one of its kind -- is set among five other outstanding paintings of stained glass windows. The power of indoctrination and mental manipulation portrayed in these images is overwhelming.
Immediately on observing the subtlety of manipulation at this level, I thought of making an appeal to all Barbadians to visit this church to see this original piece of art. Then do as I did, ask yourself this question: if Barbados is less than 400 years old as a British colonial outpost, why is it that this original painting that captures the essence of a colonial religion of 2,000 years is held here in our island paradise?
While contemplating on such an appeal to Barbadians, I took into consideration the fact that this Christian religion was the primary source that underpinned the transatlantic trade in Africans and was forced on black African peoples. In light of this, I would like, in particular, to appeal to black people in Barbados, who do not see themselves as Africans but accept that they are Christians, to visit St George’s Parish Church to see this original painting, and while at the altar ask yourselves a few questions: (1) is the image in this unique piece of art a true representation of the God-Man who came down from Heaven and sacrificed his life for us; (2) what message is intended when the image of your oppressor is also that of your deity; and (3) what does this image do to the mirror image of oneself?
The second event was on Sunday, January 20, when along with over 5,000 other people I attended a national service of blessing and spiritual renewal at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, in Christ Church. The featured speaker of the event was an international evangelist named Reinhard Bonnke, a Caucasian German national, who proved that he is a very effective storyteller. Reverend Bonnke is spearheading a movement to have the continent of Africa “washed in the precious blood of Jesus”. His crusade to save Africans from ourselves is similar to that used by his missionary forefathers 500-plus years ago, which ended with the continent being owned by Caucasians. With this as a backdrop you may well imagine what thoughts went through my mind when this evangelist introduced another Caucasian man to be his successor in this mission for Africa. It was at this point I felt in my spirit that, in 2013, any action for the continent of Africa to be washed in the “blood of Jesus” when African people are reclaiming the continent is nothing more than a second phase of Eurocentric imperialism.
The third event on February 11 is the most profound. My understanding of the significance in the resignation of a pope, the first time in 600 years, with Pope Benedict XVI the most powerful man in the world “The Vicar of God on Earth” stepping down from that office on February 28, 2013. The main reason given is that the burden of the office has become too much for him; “he simply no longer has the strength in mind or body to carry on”. If Creator God is whom African peoples believe him to be then truth and justice would have been a burden on every pope from as far back as 1493. This is when, following Columbus’ arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492, Pope Rodrico Borgia through a ‘Papal Bull’ sanctioned the transatlantic trade in Africans. The burden of injustices would have been increasing over the years, in particular, since the United Nations deemed the transatlantic trade in Africans, slavery and colonialism all as crimes against humanity in 2001. If the Mayan prophecies for December 2012 are accurate and a new dispensation to bring about meaningful changes has started, those who are guilty of crimes against humanity will become exposed and burdened until truth and justice become a natural priority of society.
Truth and justice are being pursued through the International Reparations Movement, which is gaining momentum. It is pleasing to know that the government of Barbados has now officially taken a seat at the table of this international movement by establishing a reparations task force. The island has an important role to play in promoting truth and justice to counter the equally important role it played during colonial times as a centre for untruths and injustices. In light of this, since Barbadians are given this opportunity to raise their consciousness, it means that African peoples globally are ready for healing and reconciliation, taking into consideration that the United Nations has designated a Decade for People of African Descent for recognition, justice and development commencing this year, and has also recommended that there be an annual International Day for People of African Descent that captures our experiences. There is a proposal that 12th October is the most appropriate date for this annual event.
In light of the forgoing, it is therefore understandable why the pope’s office has become overburdened and is made public during Black History Month. The changes that are required for the Church and Christianity to transform itself from the original belief and practice (lie) that black people could not be saved because we had no souls, to advocating the cause for reparations, restoration and restitution would take a super effort from the Vatican. Let us pray that the successor to Pope Benedict XVI is able to do what is righteous.
Rev. Buddy Larrier