A few years ago I was astonished to read the pronouncement of Zambia by the republican
President Mr. F. Chiluba, as a Christian nation. This trend seem to have a follow up by
many more politicians in the country. Hardly a day passes by without hearing the same
rhetoric. This is to my surprise even echoed by the newspapers like the Post. Which to me
seems to act as a mouth piece of the present ruling system. I hope that my views maybe
shared by fellow Zambians.
To my analytical point of view, it is wrong and dangerous to force the country to adapt its
culture and traditions to Christianity. Doing so is a sign of lacking historical consciousness.
Christianity or other religions like Islam are imported factors within the African culture. As
a result a lot of confusions have come up whereby a culture of violence and hate are almost
a daily occurrence. This is already taking place in some countries like Central African
Republic, Mali, Southern Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda and in Kenya. I have to include the last two
countries, though this is taking place at a small scale. As a liberal Christian, I do not oppose
religion, but I get worried to note that many leaders have failed to differentiate and address
the negative effects of religious fanatism on daily lives of the people. Though somehow Karl
Marx is his book DAS KAPITAL was right, Christianity or Islam can add many values to our
African cultures, if these are used as supplements to our moral values. By adapting ourselves
entirely to imported systems, is another way of inviting more divisions.
For centuries and before the coming of Christianity or Islam, africans lived in harmony with
each other. They had their own rule of laws, traditional values and beliefs which brought them
closer to the nature. In this way peaceful co-existence methods were able to be sustained. The
reason behind this understanding and harmony was that the Africans understood the content
of their traditional beliefs. This came to a halt when chistianity and Islam forced their ways
in our traditions. Africans had their own religion, which if we need more harmony and peace
need to be revitalized. This concerns the majority. And therefore Zambia cannot be called a
Christian nation. Pluralism and inclusiveness must continue to be a guideline.
In the last years we have witnessed the mushrooming of born-agains and new churches in
every corner of Zambia. Their influence have never always been positive. There have been
cases of people receiving false hopes which can never be realistic. While some charismatic
characters have been using their charisma to gain moral and material influence on the poor
and therefore denying them the own-initiatives to self-reliance and personal developments.
It is sad to see that the Africans have embraced religious systems which the whites who had
introduced this to them, have already turned against. The Europeans have already come to
realize that their religion does not meet their expectations, but could be useful to supplement
their moral values. Europeans have turned into what I may call Christmas Christians. It
therefore surprised me when I thirty three years ago visited a catholic church for the first
time in the Netherlands and only to find that only three of us were in such a large building.
While on a Christmas day, I found that all the chairs were occupied. To-date a lot of church
buildings are being brought down to pave the way to houses and offices. While religion is
only being used by nationalist to promote their national consciousness and to discourage
By Dr. B. Mwansa. Kapika (BMK)