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HARARE (Reuters) – Hands aloft and tears streaming down her cheeks, Alicia Chipoyi prayed in a high-pitched voice for spiritual healing for the wounds caused by years of slavery and colonization of Africa by Europeans.
Chipoyi was one of hundreds of people attending a European-African-American church prayer meeting on atonement and reconciliation for the West’s past role in the exploitation of what has become the world’s poorest continent.
In prayer sessions punctuated by wailing and weeping, song and dance, delegates said the West had to repent before God as the first step to reconciliation with Africa, which blames many of its problems on the legacies of enslavement and imperialism.
“We are not looking to man for help, we are looking to God for our dignity to be restored but first of all the West must confess, repent and atone for their past,”[emphasis mine:DP] Langton Gatsi, the organizer of the meeting, told Reuters on the sidelines of the prayer session.
“Once that happens we can talk of reparations and co-operation and how we can start on an equal footing.”
African leaders including Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe have in the past called for reparations from the West for its part in the slave trade.
Chris Seaton, who leads the Europe-Africa Reconciliation Process, a London-based Christian pressure group that seeks to persuade Europe to admit its past role in colonialism, said more Europeans were now aware of the “dark side of colonialism.”
The West should see Africa as an equal partner in all its dealings with a continent wracked by poverty, civil wars and underdevelopment, he said.
“We are having to explain the dark side of colonialism to our people in Europe. It is a spiritual initiative which comes in a sense, as a (result) of our history,” Seaton told Reuters.
“Some call it indulging on white guilt but our purpose is to acknowledge our past mistakes.”…
I’m sorry to sound cynical on a Friday afternoon, but I have to ruffle some feathers before I leave town. But it’s obvious to me that the West is held liable for a great deal of decisions that came out of sinful intentions and led to unimaginable consequences. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be held accountable, but conversely, are they owed gratitude in the case that what they’ve passed on has been constructive?
I can’t help but wonder if the Far East should thank the West because it has been much kinder to Asia than to Africa. Should Asian Americans call for Korea to thank the West for giving us a gospel of independence and of prosperity? And furthermore, to question exactly what the point of calling an entire hemisphere to repentance is this, what do we expect in recompense and as Christians, would we forgive regardless?