From The Lenses Of Religion

Vigorously religious, strongly corrupt, and docile, the modern tale of Africa's stagnation...

Che Guevara was a Marxist idealist; he romanticized the liberty of peasants (poor people); in his early twenties, he took a trip around southern and central America, from the sugar plantations of Argentina to the hills of Bolivia, he discovered that as America relished their win in the biggest war humankind had ever fought, as they expanded their economic sovereignty, millions around Latin America paid the price, all Guevara could see as he traveled were complete economic colonization, pain, suffering, and abject poverty, as the American populace enjoyed, the rest of the American continent suffered.

Joining Fidel Castro's successful cause in Cuba, he would become one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century, revered by his followers and demonized by his detractors. After successful guerilla warfare in Cuba, he tried to replicate his success in other parts of the world where he felt capitalism was causing harm; his manual on guerilla warfare would fail woefully not only for others who tried to copy him but for Che himself. 

Nowhere did this happen more convincingly than in the Congo. After the public outcry and the wind of Independence that blew across Africa after the Second World War, Belgium king Leopold relinquished his private ownership of the African Congo, whose elite indigenes immediately demanded Independence; Patrick Lumumba would champion this cause; however, he had been on the CIA's Communist watch list, and the U.S immediately took steps to prevent the spread of the "red terror," during the Cold War, this usually meant extermination and Lumumba would end up dead, the man who replaced him, Mubutu would go on to rule Congo for more than 30 years.

After Che arrived in Africa to lead the fight against this "West-supported" dictatorship, he encountered the problem we would be treating here today.

Superstition had always been with man since the days of the hunter-gatherers; how else could they have survived? Every Civilization before we had believed in an immortal supreme being in one way or the other, from the Greek's multiple gods to the Egyptian pharaoh-like gods to the Roman ranks on Mount Olympus, to the Viking beings Thor and Odin, these beings, while they may look relatively useless nowadays were very necessary during this period, how else could they explain earthquakes, droughts, volcanoes and other strange things which were beyond their non-scientific understanding of the world.

But as the world got more scientific and humans got better at observations, most of these gods started losing their grip on humankind; the appearance and disappearance of the sun wasn't the race of some Viking gods, it became the earth rotating around the sun, and one by one most of these mysteries disappeared one after another until only a monotheist God could be argued for.

Following the upheaval and movements of the 20th century, even monotheism had to adjust due to the severe loss of lives that followed the two great wars and the left movements. So when Che crossed the Atlantic, he was surprised to see his guerilla collaborators more interested in the potency of their witch doctors and their products than actual tactics and war planning. They expected invincibility from the doctors, and if it failed, they blamed it on their doctor's potency and tried to find new ones.

Che's African conquest would, of course, end tepidly, and he would barely escape with his life back to Cuba and would later die fighting capitalism in Bolivia. However, our story centers on a singular concept that has seemingly refused to let go of the African mind, SUPERSTITION! Even before the arrival of the colonial masters, it had been the norm, and when his weapons proved superior to ours, we figured his gods must be more powerful, and so we just switched from one object of superstition to another, no hassles, no worries. And today, we are more religious than the people who gave us the religion. We ruthlessly embezzle public funds and desperately abuse any hint of authority we receive, but a visit to Nigeria on a Friday or a Sunday would make your belief in saints.

More disturbing, however, is how it controls how we view society, technological advancements are first seen as devilish threats, and taxes are abhorred, but sowing seeds at the alter? Oh, what a wonderful idea, voting in an election! Nonsense, but doing an all-night vigil for the betterment of the nation? Great idea. Improving our education system? Boring! Praying for a good job after getting substandard education? What a brilliant idea! We feel our sociopolitical issues can be solved if we pray harder, or hold more steadfastly to the supreme being, than if we take responsibility and answer the hard questions ourselves. And, of course, it is easier that way; why stop collecting mini bribes for services meant for free when you could collect it, go to church on Sunday or mosque on Friday, and pray for the betterment of the nation?

Go to any public market in the country, and they have a special day for prayer, where they beg the Lord to guide and protect their business, and just immediately after the prayer is done, swindling starts.

History strongly suggests that no nation ever developed by praying hard; it is done consciously or democratically, by conscious realistic actions that necessitate political and socioeconomic growth. Democracies improve their institutions and the rule of law, making it difficult for anyone to get away from a crime no matter their status, nondemocracies improve their markets and economy so that even if a dictator is in charge, he/she recognizes the immense power that the people wield and makes sure not to come in opposition with that force (see China for example).

And so national growth has very little to do with religious beliefs or ethnic background; if we are to catch up with the rest of the world, we have to relegate religious beliefs to personal values and make a realistic decision that would improve our standard of living, make it difficult for a leader to embezzle public funds and not wait for some afterlife punishment, encourage electoral participation and not conduct vigils for National improvement, eliminate religious discrimination when talking about national leadership or else it would be a story of "what could have been" What could have been of that nation with immense population and natural resources.

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