Authentic people

One of the laudable aspects of modern missions has been to take the Gospel to remote places and peoples. Such peoples were often considered undeveloped or even “primitive”. We’ve mostly abandoned that conception, replacing it with the idea that such peoples are authentic or that they represent an ideal way of living. Under that conception, anything that changes their traditional way of life is inauthentic – a kind of degredation or cultural pollution.

Even missionaries get caught up in this idea. I saw it in Africa when missionaries loved the people and culture in the remote place where they lived and ministered, but they disliked the cities, sometimes considering them to be less than truly African. The real Africa, for them, was rural Africa supposedly little changed through time and contact with the outside world.

Some missionaries even considered educated Africans to be less than fully African. I even heard one once say directly to a highly educated African that he was not really African when he showed that he no longer believed the local traditions about camelions.

It is certainly true that not all outside influences bring helpful change to rural peoples. Some are very destructive. But we are called to minister to the people in front of us, not some idealized version of them.

Views of Africa

Africa is a big and complex place. So understanding it is no simple matter. So it is with some trepidation that I dare to address the issue through the following videos of Africans speaking about Africa. I hope that you find at least one interesting and helpful. I did not including only items with this I agree.  Also, remember, these are only three of hundreds of millions of African voices.  If you find one or more of these helpful, I’d love to know that.

Andrew Mwenda takes a new look at Africa

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about how the “single story” of Africa leaves many people with a narrow and incorrect view of Africa.

George Ayittey ’s talks about corruption in government and private aid agencies that act without knowledge.

If you have comments, let me know what you think.

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