Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Christianity in Ancient Africa: Part I

                           Christianity in Ancient Africa: Part I
                                  copyright 2014 K. Omodele

With political friction sparking in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt over the past few years, religious tribalism ignited when fanatics claiming Islam attacked Christians, and destroyed Melkite and Coptic churches in these ancient lands. Wait! Hold up! Christians in Egypt? Soon as we hear the word "Christianity," many of us begin thinking: Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, even Mormon. Say "Christianity in Africa" and image certain images jump up in our minds: European missionaries converting villagers, fattening them up for the colonial kill.

Yes, Eurocentric Christian traditions are definitely perpetuated in the West. However, Egypt in the First Century A.D. was home to many of the early scholars and thinkers who shaped Christian concepts. African Christian societies existed in Aksum (Axum) and Nubia long before most Europeans even heard of Yeshua*. And when we learn the plight of grass root Egyptians under Graeco-Roman rule, we get a firmer understanding of Egyptians' embracing Christianity.

Egypt Under Graeco-Roman Rule
In 332 B.C., the Greek army of Alexander conquered and colonized Egypt, enforcing a tax system on the Egyptian peasantry that was much harsher than the one imposed by the Egyptian pharaohs. Then when the Romans took over Egypt around 30 B.C., their system was even more rigid and exploitive. The Roman Empire ruled without regard for the humanity of the Egyptian peasant. The abject oppression had many Egyptians marooning from their fields- rather turn into a bandit in defiance than beggar or a slave to the Roman system. It was in this setting, in the First Century A.D., that the Apostle Mark established one of the earliest Christian diocese.

Christianity quickly garnered appeal amongst some of those Egyptians most subjugated by the Romans, offering a sense of hope to the down-trodden, promising deliverance to sufferers who endured affliction in life. Early Christians in Egypt shunned the materialism perpetuated by the Roman Empire and preferred living in isolated communes. They developed a tradition of self reliance. They prayed and meditated intensely, contemplating the complexities of the human spirit.

The Romans definitely considered these early Christians an extremist sect. Being Christian those days meant being viewed as a rebel, a subversive element, a threat to the status quo- the Roman way of life. They were deemed radicals against the Roman machine; so, thousands of these early Christians were persecuted mercilessly, martyred through centuries until the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and established it an official religion. In 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine then called for the the Roman church to follow one common doctrine.

*Yeshua is Hebrew (the man was Jewish). The Greeks called him Iesous, which became Jesus to the Romans. Jesus is the Latin derivation of Iesous which came from Yeshua, his actual Hebrew name.

READ MORE:
Christianity in Ancient Africa Part II- The Egyptian Coptic Church; Christianity in The Kingdom of Aksum (Axum)
http://consciouspen.blogspot.com/2015/09/christianity-in-ancient-africa-part-ii.html

Christianity in Ancient Africa Part III- Christianity in Nubia (the Kingdoms of Noba, Makurra and Alwa)
http://consciouspen.blogspot.com/2015/09/christianity-in-ancient-africa-part-iii.html

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Birthday Letter to Marcus Garvey

                                                  Earthday Letter to Marcus
                                                  Copyright 2015 K. Omodele

Most Right and Honorable Marcus Mosiah,
Greetings I bring on your 128th Earthstrong*. May the Most High, Jah, shower you infinitely with eternal blessings. Your message has lived on and your impact on the lives of millions all over the Earth illustrates brightly that word - sound is power. Before you ascended, humbly, seventy-five years ago, you told us we could find you in the whirlwinds...Some of us may have wondered whether waves of time might wash away your gigantic footprint.

Emphatically I say, this is not so. Many of us have not forgotten, will never forget. History strung up a lynching but ourstory absolves you. We, the People, trumpet your sound through the ages- even this one of information. Avenues and schools, world-wide, bear your name. We write and sing songs about you; read and write books that convey your story- ourstory (you said we should uplift and celebrate our own heroes). Marcus Mosiah, in Ghana (the former Gold Coast) the flag and the national football team are called the Black Star**; in Jamaica you are the first National Hero; in Rasta you are Prophet, complementing Priest and King.

We herald the principles for which you stood on-square. You uplift us still, inspiring us to see in ourselves the image of God. You shouted that there's nothing the mind can imagine that man cannot accomplish- did you ever imagine the U.S. could elect a Black president, one with an African name at that? And now there's an African Union, but Jah knows we could use your leadership there. Oh, did you see your beloved West Indies when we tried the Federation? Petty minds got in our way but you done already know how that goes. Now Caricom is our feeble response to your call for regional unity.

It's not an easy road we've travelled and we still have a mighty long way to go. But rest assured, Ababa Mose, your sons and daughters stand firm, work proud, walk with our heads high; as we trod Jah Earth your spirits breathes within us. Have a most blessed earthday.

Sincerely,
Kaya Omodele

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Abeng Caribbean Poetry: My Church Street Yard (Ode For Ivah)

Copyright 2015 K. Omodele

A black-thorn rose in meh Church Street  yarden.
Smiles bloom there once, then ruff winds hardened.
Wish time would roll back so
I'd mek my old yard know
It's the one place in the whole, wide world I go
when my days darken.
I got meh Church Street yard, now
fold-up in my heart, though
-ripped, torn and broken.

For my cousin- a man named Ivor.
In 'membrance of our final reasoning 'pon de phone,
gyaffin' clear 'cross de Pond:

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the
darkness conscious."~ Carl Jung

Rest now, my blood.
One Love,
Omodele


Saturday, August 1, 2015

EMANCIPATION DAY: Free Our Minds From Mental Slavery

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds."~ Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Jah Bless, Bredren, Sistren, massives and crowd of people; today is Emancipation Day. On August the First, 1834, slaves in the British West Indies were emancipated, which was a big thing then and should still be a big thing to all a we now. Why this should matter to we now- 181 years later?

Well, "a people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots." (Malcolm X) And, if we focus only on where we going without having a clue 'bout where we been, we might walk 'round in circles not recognizing we done already trod down this or that road before. Since life is about growth and development, humanity must learn from and improve upon its past.

Whole heap of lessons can be learned from the institution of chattel slavery, too numerous to name them all - from economic exploitation to ethnocentricism. But for me, the most illuminating principles learned from studying our past is to first see, then respect the humanity in people; resist those dehumanizing thoughts and labels that enable subjugation of others. As that old Bob Marley chune goes, "Woe to the downpressor (oppressor), they eat the bread of sorrow..."

There are seven billion people in Jah world. There is only One Love.
Have a Onederful Emancipation Day.
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