During slavery, it was illegal for Africans to read any book other than the Bible. Anyone caught reading philosophy, science, governance, history, economics or any other genre of literature, faced the death penalty.
Why was this so?
The slave masters understood that the Bible was a tool to limit the thinking of black Africans and to keep them perpetually subservient. They knew that to keep them in servitude they had to make them accept their lot as the will of God and have them thinking about the end of days, these things will keep them in perpetual servitude. They refused to give them anything good but they gave them Christianity and the bible.
Over five hundred years later, the descendants of the slaves who were whipped, tortured, raped and murdered, now confess implicit confidence in the same Bible. (a book hurriedly put together by Emperor Constantine in 325 AD when he decreed Christianity – an infusion of Roman paganism, Greek and Egyptian mythology” as the new State religion and his troops would violently convert most of the world’s populations to this newly formed order by force and through violence. The Bible was central to the success of the trans Atlantic slavery. On a trip to Cape Coast in Ghana 2010, I saw first hand the role Christianity played in slavery. Slaves were first baptized and letters (signifyng their new names such as John, Peter, Isaac and other Christian names) engraved with hot metal in their backs – this was even before they learnt English. While in chains, blood dripping from all over their bodies, they recited the Nicean creed, not knowing the meaning. Verses like:
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” lent divine credence to the predicament of slaves and consigned them to perpetual slavery. Revolting against the oppressors, was a direct rejection of God – so they were made to believe.
Today, many Africans know the Bible from the beginning to the end but they know little about themselves or ideas that can improve their lives. They can feel Jesus in their spirits and they are absolutely sure that Christianity is the only true religion. They are waiting for an apocalyptic climax to humanity where a blue eyed, blonde haired Caucasian savior would appear from the sky at the sound of a trumpet, to save them from debilitating poverty, a dysfunctional system, diseases and imbecility. 500 years later, Africans are still languishing in profuse ignorance.
The damage has been done.
In the words of the late scholar Dr. Henrik Clark, the African American legend:
“To control a people, you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture. And when your conqueror makes you ashamed of your culture and history, he needs no prison walls and chains to hold you”.