As you have guessed it already, I am reading Steve B Biko’s selected letters in I write what I like. The essays were written when our author was actively involved in black emancipation in South Africa before he was brutally killed by the apartheid regime. In this address to black ministers of religion, he writes in conclusion
[..]I would like to remind the black ministry, and in deed all black people that god is not in the habit of coming down from heaven to solve people’s problems on earth.
Even now, in the face of a mass shooting in the US where over a dozen children were shot dead, sending thoughts and prayers will not help. Enacting stringent regulations around gun ownership, addressing other societal pressures like racism, unemployment, mental health is what is called for.
Elsewhere, writing on African religion, we read
Another aspect of religious practices was the occasion of worship. Again we did not believe that religion could be featured as a separate part of our existence on earth. It was manifest in our daily lives. We thanked god through our ancestors before we drank beer, married, worked etc. We would obviously find it artificial to create special occasions for worship. Neither did we see it logical to have a particular building in which all worship would be conducted. We believed that god was always in communication with us and therefore merited attention everywhere and anywhere
He then says
It was the missionaries who confused our people with their new religion. By some strange logic, they argued that theirs was a scientific religion and ours was mere superstition in spite of the biological discrepancies so obvious in the basis of their religion. They further went on to preach a theology of the existence of hell, scaring our fathers and mothers with stories about burning in eternal flames and gnashing of teeth and grinding of bone. This cold cruel religion was strange to us but our forefathers we sufficiently scared of unknown impending anger to believe that it was worth a try. Down went our cultural values.
And I can’t agree more!