I still remember the first time I heard that Jesus wasn’t white.
We were having a conversation with friends and one of them said, Jesus wasn’t even white so i wonder why there are still images of white Jesus in African churches.
I was like, say whaaaat?
But I acted cool, i was like I’m gonna research this after this conversation, the statement was said in such a bold way that shattered all my belief, and I wanted to know more before engaging in the conversation. So I let the conversation die that day, i just nodded and changed the topic.
We all have first days, first day of seeing something, hearing something, thinking about something that challenges and changes your beliefs, and it is okay to be challenged, it is okay to change, that is a sign of growth, that is a sign that you are learning and a sign that you are human.
I remember one day saying to myself, I don’t think colonialism ended with us just getting independence, we can’t be colonized for centuries and for it to end without leaving us with any negative effects of it’s existence. That’s when i started my decolonization journey.
I define decolonization as unlearning all the negative consequences of colonialism. And learning how amazing and rich the African culture is, and embracing it.
Colonialism came with white supremacy, class system, induced self hate in ourselves, Christianity, poverty mindset, it caused economical, political and social divide, it caused division in Africa (remember scramble for Africa and Berlin conferences), spiritual erasure, co-dependency of Western countries/ and the whites, stole our art and resources, erased our history and heritage, used us for cheap labor, made us believe we need aid to develop (and that we could have been nowhere without white people) and all other consequences I’m yet to learn and explore.
Which is why I believe it is impossible to just be ‘free’ one day in the 1960 and erase all these structures and conditioning built for centuries.
Most of us have not been colonized by the West for fewer years than we have been colonized (not to mention Neo – Colonialism). Most countries are in their 60 years of independence, few years compared to years we have spent being colonized, so I understand that change takes time, I understand that we can’t figure it all out in one year but all we need is the intentionality and effort to bring about that change.
And that’s all that is needed to decolonize yourself, intentionality and effort.
Be intentional to unlearn, learn and explore yourself, your ideas, your thinking patterns, how you see yourself and the world, your culture, your environment and the world.
And here’s how your effort comes in hand;
1. Read books & Research some topics
When you hear something that is new to you, read more about it, research it.
I hope to share a list of books that have helped me but Black Skin, White Mask by Frantz Fannon is a good place to start.
Read more books written by African writers, or non white writers. There’s a lot of stories being told by white people, the thing that we need now is to hear voices of people who are not mainstream, learn new perspective, see new worlds and explore new boundaries.
Read history books, past books. Our ancestors were writing, were revolutionary, were bold, were resistant, learning and reading about them is empowering. It is my way of recollecting history, learning more about myself and our people.
2. Question things
I am a Christian because I was born and raised in a Christian family. If i was born in a Hindu family, i would have been Hindu.
So now I’m on a journey of learning if Christianity is mine, my religion, not just a religion passed down to me by my parents.
Yes i was told that this is like this and that, but what about me? What do i think of this? Is this belief/ idea/ thought mine or passed down to me?
So questions like these can be a good place to start;
Why do I think like this about white people? Why do I think like this about myself?
Why do i feel this way about Afrika?
What are some effects of colonialism that I see now?
Learn how to think for yourself, it’s your life anyway.
You don’t need to hold on to things/ ideas /beliefs that don’t resonate with who you are.
You need to know who you are first, so that you can know what doesn’t resonate. Again this takes time, show yourself grace.
3. Listening to topics that you are conditioned to think are wrong, dirty or demonic
The more I think about it, the more I see that media is deliberately teaching us how to think, believe and see things.
So there are some topics shunned by media as conspiracy theories, or just lies and some topics are not even given coverage because people who control medias don’t want you to see them. So make sure you put in effort to look for things yourself, do your own research, don’t just swallow everything that media hands down to you.
So Twitter for example can be a good place to learn a new idea, to listen and read about topics that you wouldn’t otherwise do, to engage with people who you grew up believing are not worth your time, are dirty or demonic. That’s how you decolonize yourself. By constantly learning, unlearning, questioning and embracing.
A lot of things in African culture have been labelled demonic, and we have accepted them as such without much thought, but are they really? Again how do you know when you have just accepted a passed on information about them? Are they demonic to you? Do your own research.
You know how in history, Africa was painted as a savage, darn continent and all these other things so that we can be colonized, what if naming the African traditions and cultural practices demonic was a way of ending the resistance from people who stood up using these practices? What if it was a way to take away the power so that people could forsake them?
Those are three things I do that help me to decolonize, what are some things/ ways to decolonize that have been helpful to you?