Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Enlightenment a drawback to the African Community

Written by: on February 27, 2020

The word” Enlightenment” brings with it both positive and negative memories to various communities of the world. It also does the same to the African communities, which still haunts them to date. Africa was a peaceful continent, and people were living in peace in their cultural communities until the enlightenment came up and the need to explore other areas and find what is happening out there by people from both the East and West. During the enlightenment period, we saw a high influx of foreigners to Africa. The West community rushed to share the space of Africa by colonialization, and the Arabs took advantage of getting Africans and selling them to the westerners as slaves to work on agricultural farms and other firms as free laborers. It was an advantage of Western economic growth but a disadvantage to the Africans, which has affected them to date.

Therefore, the colonial and postcolonial science in Africa is yet to be de-colonized. Colonization, coupled with Christianity, added more stress on their presence because as the slave trade thrived, in the region, Christianity was equally thriving, and people forgot to question what was happening and became more spiritual. Their agriculturally productive land was taken away, and the Africans moved to the dry areas as they prayed and forgot economic independence and concentrated on handouts given by missionaries. People relied on the support and made them dependent on the white missionaries, and creativity was not introduced. Enlightenment was not even or fare to other communities, especially Africa. The continent is still paying the prize of ignorance of this significant change of the world order. While the Western were busily Christianizing the African the Arabs who were good traders of slaves, we busy getting people out and selling them as well as introducing Islamic religion on the continent. I many forums I have attended here in Kenya, many discussions on how to de-Christianize, de-westernize, de-arabinose Africa is the major problem which is not as easy as it may be thought. Africans are trying very much on how to assume a critical mass of control of their scientific and technological destinies. it is quite an arduous process because the contemporary technoscientific complex provides both Western and Asian counterpart an advantage over Africans and hence more control over the lives and destinies of Africans than Africans themselves.

Pinker wrote that the Enlightenment thinkers were men and women of their age, the 18th century. Some were racists, sexists, anti-Semites, slaveholders, or duelists. Some of the questions they worried about are almost incomprehensible to us, and they came up with plenty of daffy ideas together with the brilliant ones.[1] These words were repeatedly echoed during a Blue Economy forum I attended in Kisumu, Kenya town, where I operate my ministry. But after discussing these historical injustices that affected most of the African development; They decided to focus on what innovations and creativity so that we may compete on the global market as a continent. Therefore, the political that ended colonialism never engineered the requisite transformation for the Africans in power relations that could trigger the African age of light. Neither has postcolonial politics brought any radical changes the way African countries relate to other policies and economies. Pinker aroused many memories that are full of challenges through the enlightenment book. This book totally throughout Africans who are still not sure what they are to go for. It is drawn from the Modernity and worsened by postmodernity. Therefore, Most African people have resorted to sticking to the Christian religion and some Islamic. While Europe saw great development during the enlightenment period as Pinker says, “The enlightenment also saw the first rational analysis of prosperity.”[2] Africa felt disadvantaged but it’s now the way the whole world is focusing. Enlightenment revolutionized human thinking and doing things.

[1] (Pinker 2019, Loc 523 Kindle edition)

[2] (Pinker 2019)

About the Author

John Muhanji

I am the Director Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting. I coordinate all Quaker activities and programs in the Quaker churches and school mostly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The focus of my work is more on leadership development and church planting in the region especially in Tanzania.. Am married with three children all grown up now. I love playing golf as my exercise hobby. I also love reading.

4 responses to “Enlightenment a drawback to the African Community”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Thank you John! Fascinating to learn more about Africa with every one of your posts.

  2. Mary Mims says:

    John, great post. It is good to hear the perspective of an African from Kenya on how Africans view the Enlightenment and the teachings of Modernists like Pinker. I believe God is still doing great things throughout the world. I pray that Christianity can grow without some of the Colonial baggage.

    • John Muhanji says:

      Thanks, Mary for encouraging us to keep the focus on Christian values. But we are leaving in a global world where influence is coming from all wlaks of life. The enlightenment is sweeping the whole woeld and one may not remain behind. Africa is slowly gaining momentam over the same and it may not be long befoer we find ourselves on the same plate.

  3. Thank you John for always bringing the African context in the fore. I agree with you that in a sense, out time is nigh and soon our voices will be heard and we will too have say in the global arena. I took note of an article in a Newsweek magazine of 2016 that ran like, “Kenya Leads in the Africa Rising Narrative”, you might want to read it.

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