This may sound unbelievable, but I assure you the kingdom is here. Africa is a vast, mountainous and tropical land with not only the most diverse life forms but also tribes and languages. Needless to say, between the 18th and 19th centuries, many European nations were seeking fortunes in Africa. And as far back as 1700s or 1600s, they braved the storms just to be in Africa.
The French settled in Ivory Coast and Senegal and parts of Togo. The Germans were in the then Upper Guinea which became German Togoland, now part of Ghana and Togo. The British were in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the then Gold Coast. The Belgians – Congo, the Dutch – South Africa (they are still there), the Italians – Ethiopia, the Portuguese – Angola, the Spanish and even the Swedish were in Africa but only the British stayed longer.
Most of them came to trade in timber, cocoa, gold and other precious minerals and in doing so introduced their gods, cultures and belief systems to us which worked well in expanding their philosophy and raising profits. Most of them also ‘switched’ to humans when there was too much competition in the gold trade – that’s capitalism for you and there is no need to play the blame game. They couldn’t have been successful without the connivance of some myopic and avaricious African chiefs and yes it was the Europeans who, to some extent, opened our eyes to reality.
But it’s ok, it has been a long time and Africans are a forgiving people. Today we have the Chinese, the Lebanese, the Indians and the Malaysians amongst us and just the other day I met a Greek. All of this is good because we now live in a global world. What our share is in this global world, I naturally do not know.
We have come a long way as black people and the question which has constantly troubled my mind is this: Why would this people risk their lives initially on the sea and now in the air to come all the way to Africa?
In the colonial days many of them died of the harsh climate and infectious diseases yet they were not deterred. If they don’t see the Kingdom of Heaven in Africa why would they bother? Even today as I’m speaking to you, in some typical villages, whenever it rains heavily and the running water sweeps the surface of the earth, it’s possible to find gold particles or even diamonds. What other heaven are we waiting for?
The kingdom surely is here, but as Africans, because we live in that colonial mentality of believing and receiving, it is left with nothing but to wait for an already-made heaven which comes only after we have suffered enough and died.