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Umusungu, Tubob, Muzungu, Firenje

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

Zambia—South Central Africa; iciBemba and 71 other languages; copper; the mighty Zambezi; Mosi-Oa-Tunya; flatlands; hills; wetlands; maize; wheat; rice; cassava; nshima; cattle; chickens; goats; the big 5; churches everywhere

 

Senegal—West Africa; Wolof and French; diamonds; gold; Atlantic coast; beaches; islands; baobab forests; salt lakes; bird sanctuaries; rice; spice; baguettes; fish; horses; cattle; goats; mosques everywhere

 

Kenya—East Africa; kiSwahili and many others; Indian Ocean coast; beaches; mountains; Lake Victoria; Great Rift Valley; Hell’s Gate; Masai Mara; maize; wheat; rice; chapati; ugali; cattle; chickens; goats; the big 5; churches and mosques everywhere

 

Ethiopia—East Africa; Amharic; Red Sea; hills; flatlands; eucalyptus forests; honey; coffee; wheat; spice; njera; chickens; goats; cattle; Ethiopian Orthodox churches and mosques everywhere

 

Above is a very limited, experiential taste of the vast geographic, linguistic, natural, agricultural, culinary, and architectural wealth of four very different African countries.

 

 

The Great Rift Valley, Kenya

 

 

 

Zambia—Black poets; Black farmers; Black resistance fighters; Black politicians; Black clergy; Black inventors; Black investors; Black artists; Black actors; Black playwrights; Black teachers; Black lawyers; Black judges; Black musicians; Black athletes; Black presidents; Black authors; Black doctors; Black engineers; Black researchers; Black professors; Black ancestors

 

Senegal—Black poets; Black farmers; Black resistance fighters; Black politicians; Black clergy; Black inventors; Black investors; Black artists; Black actors; Black playwrights; Black teachers; Black lawyers; Black judges; Black musicians; Black athletes; Black presidents; Black authors; Black doctors; Black engineers; Black researchers; Black professors; Black ancestors

 

Kenya—Black poets; Black farmers; Black resistance fighters; Black politicians; Black clergy; Black inventors; Black investors; Black artists; Black actors; Black playwrights; Black teachers; Black lawyers; Black judges; Black musicians; Black athletes; Black presidents; Black authors; Black doctors; Black engineers; Black researchers; Black professors; Black ancestors

 

Ethiopia—Black poets; Black farmers; Black resistance fighters; Black politicians; Black clergy; 

Black inventors; Black investors; Black artists; Black actors; Black playwrights; Black teachers; Black lawyers; Black judges; Black musicians; Black athletes; Black presidents; Black authors; Black doctors; Black engineers; Black researchers; Black professors; Black ancestors

 

Above is an even more limited view of the vast human wealth of four very different African countries. The list could, of course, go on towards approaching infinity. 

 

 


 

Maryam Entoto Ethiopian Orthodox Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monument of African Renaissance, Dakar, Senegal

 

Zambia—White soldiers from England murdered and forced people off their land; White settlers from England colonized the land; White missionaries from England, Scotland, and France demonized the ancestors and traditions; White politicians from England erased names and shoved namesakes of Rhodes and Victoria into fame; White corporations from England enslaved people and forced them to rip up the ground and drain its resources for the sake of White wealth; White philanthropists founded schools that attempted to delete Black history; White Europeans and Americans still try to dominate resources and control markets.

 

Senegal—White soldiers from France murdered and forced people off their land; White settlers from France colonized the land; White missionaries from France demonized the ancestors and traditions; White politicians from France erased names and shoved namesakes like Louis into fame; White corporations from France enslaved people and forced them to rip up the ground and sea and drain their resources for the sake of White wealth; White philanthropists founded schools that attempted to delete Black history; White Europeans and Americans forced an untold number of people into chains all over the continent, marched them to this westernmost coast, beat them, raped them, murdered some, kept them in prisons, packed and stacked them horizontally in ships, and stole them across the Atlantic to be chained, beaten, raped, imprisoned, and forced into labor again.

 

Kenya—White soldiers from England murdered and forced people off their land; White settlers from England colonized the land; White missionaries from England and Scotland demonized the ancestors and traditions; White politicians from England erased names and shoved namesakes like Victoria into fame; White corporations from England enslaved people and forced them to rip up the ground and drain its resources for the sake of White wealth; White philanthropists founded schools that attempted to delete Black history; White hunters started the process of bringing members of the big 5 to the brink of extinction; White Europeans and Americans still try to dominate resources and control markets.

 

Ethiopia—White Europeans tried for centuries to colonize and exploit the land but failed; White missionaries tried to enter but found a Christianity just as ancient as theirs; White Italian soldiers invaded and tried and failed to take over; White Italian militarization led to the partition of Ethiopia and Eritrea, creating a scenario of perpetual warfare between the two.

 

 

Above is my very limited knowledge of the history and present of Whiteness in these four very different African countries.

 

 

 

Zambia—Umusungu

 

Senegal—Tubob

 

Kenya—Muzungu

 

Ethiopia—Firenje

 

Above are the words for “white person” in iciBemba, Wolof, kiSwahili, and Amharic respectively. White visitors often complain about having a single word to describe them based on skin color, about names not being used. Putting aside the obvious hypocrisy of these complaints, these words are used in an opposite manner to the literal denigration intended by words generally used to name somebody based on race. You see, each of the above words is used with absolute respect. You can think of them as meaning “Sir” or “Madam.”

 

This is a very small window into the pernicious strategy and effects of White colonialism and neocolonialism. Even with the horrific histories (and present) of Whiteness on the continent, there is still widespread, unmerited honor and respect given to white people and white culture solely because of that Whiteness. Even with the obvious reality of Black power, Black resistance, Black history, and Black brilliance, there is still widespread, unmerited honor and respect given to white people and white culture solely because of that Whiteness. Even with the vast geographic, linguistic, natural, agricultural, culinary, and architectural wealth of each country, mentioned at first, there is still widespread, unmerited honor and respect given to white people and white culture solely because of that Whiteness. While moving about Zambia with TEEZ, there were many instances of toddlers seeing their first umusungu. Often their response would be that of sheer terror. They would scream, cry, and run away or hide behind mom’s skirt. Given the history of Whiteness, this response always made more sense to me.

 

 

This, my friends, is the nature of privilege.

 

It is the intentional result of strategies put into place long ago and carried forward up until and through this day. Hidden within the supposedly benevolent missions of “Christianizing,” “nation-building,” and “educating” were the seeds that would grow into white privilege and worship of the West, the less obvious and therefore perhaps more dangerous successors to the bald violence of genocide, colonization, and trans-Atlantic chattel slavery. The demonization of traditions, the theft of resources, the imposition of “democracy” as the only acceptable form of governance, the rewriting of history, Anglophon-ing and Francophon-ing, the deification of profit-driven capitalism, and the subsequent flooding of African markets with Western products and White media promoting White products and White beauty—all of this created a system that declares, “White makes right. White is right. White must be respected. White must be honored.” Of course, all of this is without any white person having to lift a finger today. All of the meritocracy, competition, and fairness preached in the gospels of democracy and capitalism that we evangelize across the world do not apply. In fact, sticking others with those tenets as unquestionable truths ensures that we perpetually have a head start, an advantage, a weighted average. It ensures that we control the system.

 

And so umusungu, tubob, muzungu, and firenje.

 

Our mission must become dismantling this system—yes abroad, but most pressingly at home. We must recognize and name active and passive complicity. We must recognize and name the benefits we receive because of privilege. We must stop both. We must make reparations. We must offer our resources, even including our bodies, to struggles of resistance led by young people of color. We must use our privilege strategically in ways that will destroy our privilege. 

 

In short, we must re-Christianize ourselves as actual followers of the way of Jesus Christ.

Posted October 10, 2016

 

Posted by Tyler W. Orem with 0 Comments

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Being planted in the rich soils of Zambia to inspire regrowth at home. “Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit” -Matthew 13:8