Below is some feedback I received belatedly on the article I wrote on Easter Sunday.
Although late, let me appreciate your history competency in recalling and narrating the article. The language use was vivid and the story was made visible in the mind of we the readers.
But I would like to argue on privilege of feedback that making Jesus African or linking him to some African roots is forcing matters of relevance. The nature of any religion it’s in its people and is both cultural and geographical. Jesus was a Jewish man and died in the same category. Let’s accept that we imported this religion from the Jewish people and its theirs. Trying to link Jesus to some African people like this Simon is trying to make the Jewish religion African or global. As Christians in Africa we should learn to respect this reality that we borrowed this religion and it has nothing to link and do with our history. The local or traditional beliefs that we left are the ones that are linked to us and not Christianity and Islam. Further, your article has the sentence “Jesus the liberator of all mankind”, I feel this sentence is offensive and intolerant to people who don’t believe in Jesus. To use “of all” is to assume that the world is monoreligious and subscribes to one divine being. Next time use inclusive terms like “Jesus the liberator of all Christians” and not all mankind because the world has a pool of religions and we need to live and respect this reality for peace and harmony. Religious tolerance is a key to sustainable peace. Izi za mars zi ife sitimazitsata, sitiyankhulapo (I will not comment on your other articles which discuss Mars for I am not conversant with space issues).
Keep it up,
Dear Mr Mchulu,
Let me thank you most sincerely, Ziliro, for the wonderful feedback you have provided. The article that you are referring to made a suggestion to the effect that the man who had been forced to carry the cross of Jesus, Simon of Cyrene, may have been a dark skinned African. I did not, either implicitly or explicitly, say that Jesus Himself was African or had African roots.
Saying that Simon was a black person was only a suggestion made by inferring into the manner in which incident the incident unfolded. The procession that was leading Jesus out of Jerusalem to the place of crucifixion must have met many people walking on that road but none of them was forced to carry the cross except Simon, who happened to be from Africa. Cyrene was a town in what is Libya today.
I cannot say it for a fact, but it is probable that the looks of Simon caught the attention of Jesus’ crucifiers, who, in an act bordering on racism, were quick to sieze him and force him to carry the cross. After all, the North Africa of that time was populated by light-skinned as well as dark skinned people. I made reference to my earlier article which had discussed a black dynasty that ruled Egypt for nearly one hundred years. That dynasty has been termed “the black Pharaohs”. So, you cannot rule out that Simon, a native of a country that bordered on Egypt, could have been a dark skinned man.
Was Jesus himself black? I did not tackle the issue of Jesus’ race in the said article. Jesus was definitely a Jew, circumcised on the eighth day and raised according to the teaching of the Torah. Jews are Semitic people who are not dark skinned. But then he was not a blue eyed, Western European, Caucasian person either. He is erroneously portrayed as the latter in books, posters and films.
You point out that Jesus should not be referred to as the “Liberator of all mankind” because saying so is the height of intolerance. I take note of this observation. The writers of the Bible refer to him as the Saviour of the world (see 1 Timothy 4: 10, for example). This, of course, does not mean that Jesus imposes himself on unwilling people. Writing in the Gospel, John says those who “have accepted Him” are the sons of God. In Revelation John portrays Jesus as a visitor who knocks on the door of somebody’s heart and will only enter if the door is opened. In either case, people become Jesus’ followers voluntarily. Since affiliation to any belief is a matter of choice, I should perhaps have described Jesus as “the Liberator of willing persons from all races”.