The 2010 World Cup is history and the good and the bad it left behind is being debated at present. I have gained a few things through this experi-ence. I know a little more about soccer now and the World Cup has instilled a new need in me to get to know our continent a little better. And like a good Unitarian, I want to change the rules of soccer. The new rule will be: if a player other than the goalkeeper keeps the ball from going into the net using his hands a penalty goal will be awarded on the spot … laugh out loud. If this was the rule, Ghana would have been in the semi-finals. They deserved to be there. But let us leave it at that since soccer is only a game and Africa has always been a generous place.
I have recently read two books both of which I can highly recommend. The first is by Osei G Kofi called “Hello Africa. Tell me, how are you doing? A Noble Continent in Painful Renaissance”. When Kofi talks about the Afro-pessimists versus the Afro-optimists, he quotes an African proverb that says: “People hear the sound of the falling tree, but not the growing forest.” Hopefully after the 2010 World Cup, people have at least noticed the growing forest in Africa. He says: “Africans are learning to re-govern themselves, taking hard de-cisions, making costly mistakes and omissions, yes, but are slaying its dragons all the same.” He says: “Africans are all the people who inhabit this geographic space. We should cease being Angolan, Congolese, South African, Zambian, white, black – and simply, powerfully – be African.” A powerful message in the face of rumours of a new wave of xenophobia spread during the World Cup.
The second book is the new book of the famous Afrikaans painter, activist and writer Breyten Breytenbach who was a political prisoner during the apartheid years. It is called “Notes from the Middle World”. Reflecting on the Europeans in Africa and specifically my own cultural group. he says: “We are the hybrid product of long periods of mixing – between Europeans of many kinds, slaves of diverse origins on two continents, and the indigenous peoples. This process is not exclusive to the Afrikaans-speaking people. It echoes the experiences of other African tribes and cultural groups. We have a bastard identity, an identity that always evolves into another. We are living in the Middle World. We will always be the product and the process of mixing.”
Let me stretch Breyten’s theme a little. In this sense, Unitarians are not afraid to dwell in the Middle World. We resist the idea of an unchanging religion since we acknowledge that the progression of time brings new evolutions in both culture and belief. Those who do not understand the Middle World look on us with disdain since we are such a “mixed” religion, and they call us heretics. We recognize the common and unifying humanity, though, that dwells between our differences. We are proud of our heretical nature since it confirms the Middle World. This is not a place of indecision or sitting on the fence. To occupy the Middle World is to insist on keeping the whole in sight … to acknowledge both the here and the there and to stubbornly refuse to cling to half-truths. To occupy the Middle World is to accept the fact that your own view is always limited. To occupy the Middle World is to hold your truth lightly in order to be open to receive new information and new knowledge .
In closing … after the World Cup I am wonder-ing whether we as African Unitarians are really in tune with the rhythms of Africa. I believe that the European African’s forefathers where
too removed from the land and nature to be really attentive to it. Now that our sense of disconnection from the earth and from mother nature is proving to be disastrous, it is imperative for us to become attuned to the rhythms of Africa and its natural beauty. And it is imperative for Africa to find its own rhythm again after it has been captured by the rhythms of other continents. Africa, as Osei Kofi says, should stop looking for solutions to come from somewhere else. Africa must find solutions that are in tune with her rhythms. Likewise each one of us should find the religious expression that is in tune with who we are as a person. Viva Africa !!!