Pata majibu ya maswali yote uliyonayo kuhusu maisha ya chuo na changamoto zake

Being African,  Imani

The glamorization of suffering in Africa and how religion plays a part

When my aunt said ‘look at this skin, we are so used to suffering and tough times, what can they tell us‘ i didn’t know if i should laugh or be concerned, even though she was telling me a funny story before that statement. Somehow suffering has been so normalized, dare I say it has become our identity and we probably don’t see a another way to live or can’t even imagine a different state of being. This I think is problematic.

If you haven’t watched this video, I recommend you do so before you continue reading this article

Growing up in church, I internalized the idea that the man who shows up in rugged clothes was the most humble, he would go to heaven easily for just being poor since the bible says ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven‘. In church it seems this is translated that being poor is good, suffering makes you the best version of yourself, makes you noble, in conclusion the more you suffer on earth, the higher your chances of getting in heaven and the better your life will be in heaven.

This idea doesn’t just dominate Christian spheres, I have had several chats with my Muslim neighbor and he had a similar version, even though his god was mentioned in Arabic. When it comes to religion, it can be so easy to look at another one and point out the folly, without considering that yours has it’s own.

The suffering idea I think makes us feel like we shouldn’t dream of a different way of living, because if we live a better life on earth, we will forsake god, and so never make it to heaven. The suffering idea makes us fear being rich and feel righteous over the rich because they maybe rich on earth but in heaven things will turn in our favor, all because we suffered on earth, we never enjoyed living here.

This is why the first thing I had to unlearn when I left Christianity was what I believed about money. Yes the bible said ‘the love of money was the root of all evil’ but let’s not pretend like we all read or were taught the verse as it is. I grew up thinking money was the root of all evil, I grew up fearing having money until I realized that money provides the freedom to move, and have things you desire on earth easily, that’s when I learned it is actually not a bad thing that I should avoid if I want to enjoy life under the sun.

That’s when I thought maybe what majority of us lack is actually financial education, something that a guy in the daladala pointed out to me. Come to think of it, people are greedy, that’s human behavior, it has nothing to do with having god or not, it’s why a pastor can drive an expensive car in the village while his congregation sleep hungry, the people who bought that car for him. It’s not money’s fault, it’s human behavior.

You won’t be a sinner for earning or owning money, you won’t miss heaven for being rich, living on earth happily and a life where you have minimal suffering is also a good way to live. If accepting jesus only gives you future, when you are dead benefits, something that we all aren’t sure about how that life will look like apart from our different religious books giving us a picture, why are our pastors who are called to lead us on this journey not living in suffering like us, their sheeps?

Why do we make them rich, eradicate their suffering, shouldn’t they know better than to live a comfortable life under the sun? Shouldn’t they be an example in suffering, in living poor? Why do they shout about offering and money every sunday if it’s not good? If suffering is the desirable way to live, why do our pastors not lead by example? The same can be said about our politicians, except we can see the lie through our politicians.

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