Thursday, February 4, 2010

Women, Africana Reality, and the Bible

      What immediately comes to mind when I ponder further my connectedness with my sisters and the Bible is my encounter with the latter at the Elminah Castle in Ghana in 2000.  I stood in one of the rooms, angered by a poster with a quotation from Psalm 132:14.  The core of the poster's message was that God was in the place of slavery!  There, at the western corner of the African continent, I remembered how this book, which has come to be valued and shunned by many African peoples, functioned to sanction all forms of oppression that were to become their painful legacies.  Some were hurled from that same location to the Americas, which some remained to be subjugated and colonized.  I remembered how the Bible was systematically used to sanction racial segregation in South Africa.  As sons and daughters of Africa bore, and still bear, the brunt of their Blackness, the daughters have been, and still are, at the receiving end.  The latter are connected in their struggles against a variety of life-denying forces in their local contexts and globally....

     I first encountered the Bible in early childhood at home (ga-Mphahlele), in the church, and later at school.  My family formed part of a group designated majakane, a church-going African people who supposedly (that is, mainly in public) shunned African traditional customs.  The majakane stood in contrast to the so-called heathens (bahedene) who openly rejected Christianity.  They freely engaged in African traditional life.  In that setting, the Bible was successfully used to divide kindred peoples!  I later came to embrace it in my teen years when I got attracted to Pentecostal theology.  Later, I encountered it as a university student in biblical studies classes, as a graduate student of Hebrew Bible, and now as a bosadi (womanhood) Hebrew Bible scholar.

a couple of paragraphs from a chapter with the title I've borrowed here as the title of my post.  It's in the book The Africana Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora.  (HT David Ker, who may now regret giving it to me.)  The excerpt above is from Madipoane Masenya (ngwan'a Mphahlele).

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