"And this means eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent"- John 17:3 [New King James Version]
There is no compromise or room for reasoning presented in this sermon. It clearly means that knowing one half does not ensure anybody any eternal life. But then how many black people actually know who Jesus Christ is? How many of them fully acknowledge Him as being the one who was presented to dark Africa by missionaries as being white and Jewish? If black youth thus refuse to accept the missionary one as the Saviour, how can one reconcile them and everlasting life while they refuse to accept the other half of the pre-condition as a legitimate Messiah? Who shall be the mediator between the youth and God?.
In the quest to stay religious and closer to their God some young people have decided to embrace the concept of Black Theology. According to an explanation by Louise Kretzshmar in The Voice of Black Theology in South Africa, "The term 'black' can be understood in two ways. Firstly, it refers to all those previously called 'non-whites' or 'non Europeans', i.e. Africans, Coloureds and Indians.... Secondly, 'blackness' is taken to be synonymous with the oppressed people in South Africa". Black Theology, which is a divorced from ancestor appeasing tries to find a place for blacks in God's plan of salvation.
It is against this background that the late Steve Biko once wrote in his essay, We Blacks, that, "At some stage one can forsee a situation where black people will feel they have nothing to live for and will shout unto their God, 'Thy will be done'. Indeed His will shall be done but it shall not appeal equally to all mortals for indeed we have different versions of His will. If the white God has been doing the talking all along, at some stage the black God will have to raise His voice and make Himself heard over and above noise from His white counterpart"
Though the quote has been taken in context word for word it thus however does not seek to portray black theology as a theology of denial, a theology of escapism, a theology that deliberately misleads the oppressed masses that if they don't find solace in a white God and Jesus, who are part of a Trinity,they can thus formulate their own God who relates to them and answers only to them, who is not inferior but a direct counterpart of the white God.
After all the pros and the cons are weighed, a figure surfaces that should be the mediator between the Creator and the people. A figure so supreme that its task should be to unite all the creation of its father across the colour divide. Based on the teachings of the bible and history the figure is supposed to be Jesus Christ, who the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines as "a central figure of the Christian religion, a Jew living in Palestine at the beginning of the 1st Century AD".
But if filmmaker Akin Omotoso's film title God is African has anything to do with it, the definition of Jesus according to the Oxford dictionary is unfounded as Jesus the son had to be like the Father, meaning African, which the same dictionary defines as "Black". Far from the teachings of black theology and film fantasy, Black Jesus does indeed exist and there are people who pray to him.
Although there are more opinions in this world than pimples on an oily face, indications are that Black Jesus is not just a product of diversity of opinions. He can be located worldwide in especially Black neighbourhoods like he was the art of graffiti. To some people he is their ancestors who they worship by appeasing with the blood of beasts. To most Black Americans who never abandoned their culture when they jumped the slave ship he is their dead brothers and sisters who they believe deserves the first sip of their renaissance based pouring of the liquor. This ensures eternal bonding which is good if the recipient can relate to it. The sad painful reality is that, blacks, who most are devout Christians and very religious, after all the holy sermons and inspiring parables, still believe that Black Jesus is out there, maybe not in the physical-mortal form, but his influence and adoration of fetish proportions is far too outreaching, from Latin America to Africa. Slain rapper Tupac Shakur, who romanticised the subject of a Black Jesus in songs like Blasphemy, Hail Mary and Black Jesus once echoed, "in time of war we need somebody who will rally the troops/ like a Saint that we can trust to help and carry us through/ Black Jesus "
Mr. Omar Deedat of Discover Islam, an affiliate of Islamic Unity Movement disputes the general notion and held view that Jesus is white, possibly Caucasian. "God created everyone perfect without concentrating into colour. According to the Archives there are 26000 manuscripts of the New Testament. They (the manuscripts) attest that Jesus's colour was bronze and he had a hair like a sheep's wool, which goes to explain that he was a far cry from looking like Europeans" Deedat explained.
The Holy Quran, though not acknowledging Jesus Christ as the son of God but Mary, does however fall short by not making mention of Him as being either Black or white. But Deedat, told that Jesus's lineage and place of birth suggests that he was a Jew, and thus probably white argued, "He was born in the Middle East, which is in Arabia. Arabia and Africa were one before the earthquakes that separated them. Today Arabians look more like Africans and Jesus couldn't have been different"
Deedat, who regardless of believing that the mediator between God [Allah] and the people is Prophet Muhamad, the founder of the Islamic faith and community, however says, "it's not important to probe what race Jesus was, but he was not European, but perfect in his own way. The fact is that he was never blonde with blue eyes"
Even though some people are quick to point out that if Black Jesus is not the founder of the Rastafarian Movement, the late Emperor Haille Selassie, they regardless agree that He is somebody who transcends race, who all the oppressed people regardless of race or religious affiliation can relate to, such an explanation overrules Selassie as a potential Messiah. Deep probing also shows that He is not just an extension of the paranoid rhetoric contained in the highly controversial Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
Most Muslims are also unanimous that he is not the controversial leader of Nation of Islam in America, Louis Farrakhan, who although he managed to gather over a million men in Washington DC in one call still does not transcend race as even some oppressed people can not relate to him. Obviously, most Christians, notwithstanding being Black still have to figure out whom does he speak for.
Biko came close to finding Him when he wrote in the '70s, "The anachronism of a well-meaning God who allows people to suffer continually under an obviously immoral system is not lost to young blacks who continue to drop out of church by the hundreds". Thus, some hard realities in the quest to find Black Jesus however might seem to indicate that he is a silly excuse by black Protestant churches to get the youth back into their congregations since they stopped going in protest to the way oppressors used the bible to justify their situation. It looks like a typical case of saying, "God is on the side of the oppressed", and when the question is asked about which God is that one, the answer is a predictable, "the Black God".
The argument goes deep by debating how do you tell a Palestinian youth, who is shelled every day and night by Israeli soldiers that he had to kneel and pray to Jesus, who based on the biblical revelation of his lineage is supposed to be genetically a Jew, an potential Israeli? It also asks how can a Jewish Messiah, to whom blood is supposed to be thicker than water take the side of Gentile Arabs while his own blood is also spilled by suicide bombers and Jewish extremists?
In this confusion comes an oasis in the desert in the form of an explanation by American author Marc Landas. The explanation says,"However, because of the variability of human experience, there will always be people who will not be able to relate to certain subjects and experiences for no other reason than the fact that it is completely foreign to them". Though not referring to the issue, Landas laid a foundation from which the debate could be expanded.
So, if Jesus can also be referred to as a "certain subjects" it is then easy to find out who His Black version really is. After exhausting most potential Messiahs it however must be understood that it obviously can't be an easy thing for Black people who experienced racism (which it was claimed in some quarters that it was brokered and condoned in the bible) from races who claim to be Christians to enter the same synagogue and bow down alongside one another and pray to the same Jesus. Obviously they'll expect Him to answer the prayers of those who might be looking like Him. Thus, as a substitute most blacks feel it's fair to pray to a Black Jesus than an white one who they believe is either unable or unwilling to help them because they are alien to Him.
For the good of relativity it is suggested that Chinese and Indians could also have their own version of Jesus. As someone said that they need, "somebody that understands our plan, maybe not that perfect. Somebody that hurts like we hurt, somebody that smokes like we smoke, drink like we drink, to understand where we coming from. That's who we pray to, we need help".
It is saddening that this days relativity depends largely on similarity. That people will choose not to relate and pray to someone who does not look like them. Like in all probabilities whites would never have embraced Christianity would Jesus have been Black . Thus Black Jesus is a product of mistrust, communication breakdown and misrepresentation between the races. He is the worst thing that has ever happened to humans.
Black Jesus obviously does not exist in the mortal or immortal form. But if you woke up at dawn and watched the sun rising, went back to sleep and came back at midday and did the same, only to go back to sleep and come back at dusk and watched it setting, one thing will dawn in you. That it's not telekinesis but there must be a God and a Son out there. But is the Son Black or white? Does it matter?
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