I am an African and I am deeply insulted by this.

While reading the Unbelievable? by Justin, there was a reference to an article by Matthew Parris that appeared in the London Times of 27th December, 2008 titled as As_an_atheist_I_truly_believe_Africa_needs_God–Matthew_Parris(pdf). The colonisers when they first came to Africa felt the African needed to be civilized. They called it the white man’s burden. The first anthropologists wrote back home to say the African has no religion. Reason was made to belong to the whites and the African was a creature of emotion and it is this same source that this piece by Matthew grows.

He tells us

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

yeah. Africa does not need fair trade. It needs more religion. The same Christianity that smoothed the way for colonialism. If you needed the goodies, you became a Christian. In many African countries, the children of the chiefs were the first to join the missionaries. These became, with independence, the rulers. That Africa is where it is can be traced to these leaders who were first taught only basic education, again because the African was not a person of reason.

In Europe, the state is being pushed to provide healthcare because people are paying taxes. In Africa, we pay taxes and instead we should welcome more missionaries. So to Matthew, government action should not be demanded because the missionaries are already healing people. I am reminded that every time I see a place with more churches per capita than schools, there you will find dysfunction.

He says of his friends and missionaries he met

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work were unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man’s place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

which would imply that had they not been Christian, they would be dishonest, lazy and pessimistic. What does this say of him? Or of other secularists and Muslims and Hindoos, heck and voo dooists?

To him, the African is tribal. He writes

I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe.

but the European is just a member of the white race or a tribeless individual. The white man is just that. White! But the African he is tribal.

He tells us

Anxiety – fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things – strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought.

because the Christian does not have hell anxieties? Or temptation by the devil and evil spirit. Only the rural African is daunted by such thoughts. I am amazed at how many disciples Hegel has even without knowing it. To Matthew, the rural African lacks initiative. He just exists. He is not curious. And only the Christian missionary can arouse this curiosity. How novel!

He wrote

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and insubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosophical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

In short, the rural African without Christianity is enslaved. He is only subject to group-think. There is no individuality. This, according to Matthew, is only possible for the white man and his Christian religion.

He concludes

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the know how that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

and adds

And I’m afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Which implies that Africa does not fair trade, fair intellectual property agreements, technology transfer. Nothing. Just good old Christianity.

First, I wonder, with Okot p’Bitek

How could a religion that has little practical value and also seems in some ways to encourage asceticism provide a philosophy of life for living in the African world?

And secondly, Christianity & Islam already violently supplanted traditional African systems of belief and practice that had served the continent for hundreds of years before the christian missionary dreamed of African travel leaving the African confused and lost; not white, not black. He has a Sunday religion but nothing else. To Matthew, he needs no religion but with a condescending attitude things this what Africa needs. I am tired of these Hegelian disciples who can always find news ways to show their racism.

I am African and I am pissed off!

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

42 thoughts on “I am an African and I am deeply insulted by this.

  1. Mordanicus says:

    As an European I join you in your outrage.


  2. john zande says:

    I often wonder how some people (many?) can pen such ignorant rubbish and not once have a light go off in their head questioning the words as they fall o the page. Self-reflection, review and critique don’t seem to be mental functions they’re capable of.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. judyt54 says:

    Didn’t he say he was an atheist? And yet he espouses Christianity for ‘others’? The only things Christianity brought to africa were enslavement, small pox and measles, and (to be fair) reading. They were so convinced of their own superiority that, as one woman put it, ‘they may die in pain, but they go to their maker. There’s joy in that. ”

    Oh, please.
    What white-privileged arrogance he does spout.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Yes, reading and writing.
      That’s the strange part. Atheism is good enough for him. Government services are good for him. But for the African, send missionaries


    • makagutu says:

      Or maybe, he finds nothing odd with such scenes


    • basenjibrian says:

      This is a long, long tradition of thought: “Of course religion is objectively nonsense. But we need it for the lower orders to keep them in their place.” expanded to an entire, complex, varied, diverse continent? Racism is the only reason for such an argument.

      The only arguable point is that when one is poor and lacks resources, old school rigid culture does provide a structure that may be less important for the wealthy, who can more easily afford to play around a bit. But even that argument simply ignores the impacts of that old time religion on people who cannot or will not “conform” for legitimate reasons (lgbtq+, women who don’t want to be a housewife. men who are not macho, even if straight).


  4. wow, this Parrish is quite an idiot who seems to subscribe to the white messiah bullshit.


  5. Incredibly offensive tripe.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jim- says:

    He has fallen into the old trap that espoused the propagandas that other ways of being in the world are just archaic and primitive.Being “civilized” fueled ignorant dogoogers for centuries. . He may say he’s an atheist, but Christian is who he is. He may not believe in Jesus, but it’s stuck to him like a dormant virus. He left Christianity, but Christianity didn’t leave him.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. renudepride says:

    If what he writes is indeed the truth, then perhaps now the Africans should export christian missionaries to the rest of the world to convert them to christianity. Surely the world would accept them with open arms!

    This article appears to be no more than ignorant bullshit to confuse, conflict and conform. 🙂 Naked hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. John Faupel says:

    I think it was that wise of buzzard – Shakespeare, who said ‘I see in a map the ruin of us all !!! Long before colonization [i.e. exploitation, land-grabbing, slavery and insatiable greed] small egalitarian communities everywhere tried to make sense of their environments, and their place within it, by compiling their own mutually acceptable, and gradually evolving cultural beliefs. Since then, this relatively balanced and harmonious way of coping with their environments has been taken over everywhere by narcissists and psychopaths’ mass mind-bending [i.e. brain-washing] attempts to gain more and more support for their own power and control over the countries, nations, cultures, ethnic groups, spiritual and secular beliefs they spuriously claim they represent.
    This largely unrecognized evil practice points to an unmitigated future world-wide disaster that’s already taking place before our very eyes!
    Sent from a ‘citizen of the world’ who has free himself from all such artificially imposed labels.


  9. judyt54 says:

    First the white folk send missionaries to claim the souls of the Africans (who were doing just fine with their own beliefs, tyvm, and then, when they came down with white folk diseases like measles and such, the white folk decided to send doctors, too, to cure them of
    the diseases we had given them, in the first place. shakes head. wanders off to sit in the dark for awhile.


  10. Arkenaten says:

    I’m too long in the tooth to entertain idiots like this bloke.
    Such drivel just makes my blood boil.


  11. Tish Farrell says:

    And I am exceedingly pissed off too. What a self-regarding nit. But then he was also a Tory MP for a time (which doubtless explains a lot).


  12. limey says:

    Generally, I find Matthew Parrish to be a thoughtful writer, but this item really is nonsense, he’s dropped the ball on this one.

    I’m a privileged white guy, who grew up in Zambia, and I have missionaries in my heritage and I deplore much of what they did to local culture and the arrogance with which they proceeded to ‘save’ the population.


  13. This is certainly outrageous. How can people write such nonsense? The arrogance is REAL.



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