There is a silence about one thing that every Ghanaian Christian surely knows but does not want to make explicit: without the “white man” Ghanaians would be burning in hell alongside their pagan ancestors!

Probably every Ghanaian Christian believes the only way to God is through Jesus – doesn’t the bible say exactly that? They know all the Muslims, Hindus, traditionalists and all those other Jesus-denying religious people are never going to get to see God. Because of the “white man”, Ghanaian Christians are uniquely privileged amongst their brothers and sisters in Error.

We have a misconception that when the missionaries came to Africa, the ideas of Christianity were so powerful and so obviously right, that Africans immediately dumped their ‘stupid’ ideas and converted. The truth is somewhat different.

When the missionaries came, they found that Africans saw no need to swap religions. The Supreme Being and the demi-Gods they worshiped did the job; they manifested in their lives and helped them with their problems.

Leslie Probyn, who was the High Commissioner of Southern Nigeria described the problems facing the missionaries,

“…the Africans ‘are a very cautious race, and . . . will not accept new ideas merely because they were presented to him by a white man…’new ideas’ (including Christianity) are acceptable only when the Africans see that they are ‘obviously useful’.”

So the task was to make Christianity have an obvious practical use-value, and this is where the colonial state played its part.

The colonial state was able to offer useful things to converts, such as protection, preferential treatment, access to education and ultimately access to jobs within the colonial administration and all the privileges that came with that. Christianity became a ‘badge of honour’.

Without the colonial state, the missionaries may never have been able to convince Ghanaians and other Africans to become Christians.

Ghanaians traded temporal wealth – their natural resources – for everlasting life.

In this way colonialism was the path to redemption.

UPDATE 21/12/11

Obviously I’m following an argument to its absurd conclusion. I don’t really mean it.  But I’ve just found this clip of Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson who says “Thank God for Slavery” and he does mean it!

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