Celebrating the Love of Friends in a Loving World

Celebrating the Love of Friends in a Loving World
Red Roses for You, My Sweet Friends ... Total Love.

My Sweet Friends

My sweet friends,

We grow closer to each other;

When we interact together and share ideas;

The common faith that we share,

Binds our hearts in one accord.

For sweet friendships last a life time,

When built on mutual respect, humility and understanding;

Throughout each different season,

We find we are one in life.

Sweet friends are there through times of grief;

And times when hope is gone;

Always there with encouragement;

So we can carry on.

I thank the Lord for you,

My true and faithful friends;

To fondly speak with you, whether we agree or not,

On this, our beloved blog;

For sweet friends will stay, no matter what;

Giving support.

Together, our hearts and minds truly unite;

With the amazing love of sweet friends.

In the spirit of true friendship,

Best wishes, my sweet friends;

May the Lord bless you abundantly.

I remain, yours truly,

B.B. Bakampa.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Open Letter To Brother Zahid

By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma

Dear Brother Zahid,

How are you, Sir? I hope you are doing well in Britain. Further, I hope that the Almighty God has kept you well. May His blessings and mercy be upon you always. Uhuru to you too, brother.

My dear brother, this open letter is in response to the e-mail you sent to me reacting to a publication I posted on my blog. First and foremost, kindly allow me to thank you for sparing some of your precious time to visit it and especially for writing a very impassioned response thereafter. Comrade, I feel profoundly honoured and exceedingly humbled by this honourable gesture. For me, this is the true measure of brotherhood and friendship. Thank you very much.

Fast forward, brother. After receiving the e-mail yesterday, I carefully scrutinized your comments and took some time to write this opinion in response.

Following an elaborate presentation of your case, you write thus:
My question to YOU after reading all this is: “[Do you] Still like the Bible that killed your forefathers as well as fellow Africans and put many more millions into slavery and even today the great African people still face and are subject to racism across the world?” The bracketed words are my own.

In your opening remarks, it is stated that you noted that the Bible is my favourite book. True, the Holy Bible is one of my favourite books. It is rich with abundant knowledge which I find vital for my day-to-day living. Often times, I resort to it for inspiration when my spirits are low. I like the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes most and definitely the New Testament.

But that’s not to say that I necessarily agree with everything it says in totality. I have my own reservations too. I maintain to many of my friends that some parts of the Bible, from the Old to the New Testament have lost relevance today so that they need not be followed. For instance, consider St. Paul’s teaching about women in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. That great gospel preacher and writer stated as follows: “As in all the churches of God’s people, the women should keep quiet in the meetings. They are not allowed to speak; as the Jewish Law says, they must not be in charge. If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is a disgraceful thing for a woman to speak in church.” (Adapted from the Good News Bible). This teaching, however holy it may be said to be, cannot command authority anymore because it’s not sustainable in light of today’s human rights order. It’s against the tide of history.

Then there is this more ridiculous one. Jesus, in the book of Luke 5:29, is reported to have taught his followers that, “If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too….” This is impossible for me to do. If you hit me, I either hit back if I can or flee if I can’t.

But such ‘unfortunate’ teachings aren’t in the Bible alone. There are several others in the Holy Koran and Sharia that are inconsistent with modernity. For example, you may be aware that the Koran permits “reasonable chastisement” of women by their husbands! In fact, it also subjects women to some form of slavery especially sexual slavery. Please, refer to Quran 4:34 which says that, “And as for those on whose part you fear disobedience, admonish them and keep away from them in their beds and chastise them.” One Hadith (Shahih Muslim) provides that Abuhuraira reported Allah’s messenger (S.A.W) as saying, “When a man invites his wife to his bed and she does not come, and he spends the night being angry with her, the angels curse her until morning.”

Yet these very books have many wonderful teachings that equip the readers with very relevant and beneficial information. So, my approach is to take the good and leave the bad. The problem is that over time, criminals and other bad elements, have justified their anti-social conduct using provisions of the Holy Scriptures. Take for example, those who kill in God’s name (be they Christian, Muslim or otherwise). Our duty as true believers and lovers of peace is to shun them. The Bible, in Matthew 5:9, says that, “Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!” I have been told and I verily believe that Islam is a religion of peace and compassion.

Honestly speaking, I take it that the Bible, like many other religious books of our time including the Koran, is more of a collection and statement of the cultures and beliefs of those from among whom it originated i.e. the Jews. For example, the teachings about women quoted above, are evidence of the nature of societies from which these books originated. Like many other societies worldwide, they reflect a patriarchal arrangement that subjects women to male domination.

I am hesitant to believe everything written in these books. Some (if not most) of it may be just additions of ordinary, mortal men. I therefore subject religious teachings to logic. For example, I don’t see why a person living in tropical Africa should dress as though he/she were in a desert. Reason being that even Jesus or Mohamed dressed that way. The environment is totally different, for God’s sake! This is brain-washing.

Like you, I strongly condemn all those who justify crimes like slavery, oppression, racism in the name of religion; only that unlike you, I won’t blame it on the Bible. They are simply opportunists. For that matter, I shall continue “to hold so dearly” the Bible in the same way as Muslims continue to hold the Koran “so dearly” in spite of the fact that radical Islamists terrorize and butcher innocent people en masse every now and then in the name of Allah and the Koran.

Finally, brother Zahid, allow me to comment on the issue of colonialism since it features in your message. Let me say from the start that colonialism was indeed a very unfortunate incident in our history. It shouldn’t have happened at all.

But I have argued before that it was bound to happen and I still believe that unless we as Africans put our house to order, it will happen again. You see, this is a manifestation of the desire to dominate, which is a natural instinct deriving from competition for control of scarce resources in society, hence culminating into what Charles Darwin termed “survival for the fittest.” The world is a jungle where the weak either perish or if they survive, then only as slaves. And believe me brother Zahid, any one can do it. Had we been in the superior position as the whites were, we too would have done exactly the same.

In his book, The Prince, Nicollo Machiavelli propounds that this world is for giants and I respectfully agree with him. Now, I gather that you are a “black supremacist.” Whereas I appreciate and commend your sense of pride as a black African, my challenge to you is that you should aim at being truly supreme and great. It’s not just about saying, I am this and that. Endeavour to show it in action.

Going back in history, you state as follows: “Indeed, back in 1652 the Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern tip of Africa. The Dutch were building up their wealth by trading and needed the Cape settlement to re-supply their ships. So it was that the Dutch sent an 80- strong company to build a fort on the Cape of Good Hope. Shortly after their arrival, the Dutch settlers seized the lands and cattle of the original inhabitants of the Cape; the latter were the Khoikhoi and the San and further inland were the Xhosa, Zulu and other Nguni tribes and the Sotho and Tswana peoples. When the Khoikhoi and the San defended their lands and cattle from the Dutch with their bows, arrows and spears, the Dutch settlers set about systematically exterminating them. The Khoikhoi became almost extinct and only a few San survived.”

For me, the question is why were the people you mention subjugated? And the answer, in my opinion, is because they couldn’t defend their sovereignty. They were technologically and intellectually dwarfed, the consequence of which was their being conquered. My brother, I hate to say this, but that is the natural course of human development and if we are not careful, the Europeans, Americans, Chinese and Indians will override us again.

As we talk now, the black race is ranked least on the scale of influence, having the lowest life expectancy rate. Yet we continue to glorify several vices that are responsible for our misery, at the expense of more progressive practices that are tested and proven by history. Take for example, dictatorship and human rights abuse. We Africans have failed to take charge of our development by promoting regular democratic regime change. Instead, we seem contented with bogus and repressive presidential monarchies that have taken the place of the defunct kingdoms which failed to protect our territorial integrity when we needed it most.

Personally, I believe in the equality of all people, just like Jesus taught (as you say He did). I am convinced that all of us (black, white or coloured) are born free and equal. Therefore, as blacks, we need not blame whites for our predicament. Rather we should strive to emancipate ourselves like we did when we fought colonialism. This is an indicator of our failure to identify our enemy. Our real enemy is our inability to build capacity to compete with others.

By the way, brother Zahid, let’s be honest here; imagine someone finds you in your home and conquers you. What would you expect them to think of you, if not as a mere imbecile? How would you expect them to treat you, if not as an inferior being? Then, imagine for a second that you are the one who subdues another person, what do you think would happen?

During his visit to Ghana, U.S President Barack Obama advised that it is no longer fashionable to blame colonialism for our problems after fifty years of independence. I entirely agree with His Excellency Obama. Africa has had fifty years of independence yet we are still in as bad a state as we were during colonialism. It could even be worse. You may need to refer to Martin Meredith’s book, The State of Africa, to appreciate this. What has transpired over the years is a change of guards: initially it was white oppressors, now it is black oppressors––our very blood and flesh. In my view, an oppressor is an oppressor, whether white or black. For me, I have long stopped blaming the colonialists and I believe that we have to address the governance problem in Africa if we are to develop. Once that is done, we shall become giants and therefore, what you call, “the great African people.”

Dear brother Zahid, I could go on and on writing about Africa because I am very passionate about African affairs. But for lack of time, I am sorry I am unable to. If it pleases you sir, refer to my earlier publication titled, The African Dream, which addresses in detail these matters briefly discussed here. It is available on my blog. As I conclude this open letter to you, let me say that our challenge now is to emulate the wise counsel of Robert Francis Kennedy, when he said that, “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” We ought to be gentle and loving to everybody. We should also remember that, “In order to change, the world needs everyone,” as advocated by Federico Mayor, the former Director-General of UNESCO.

The letter is open because I have published it on my blog, believing that it addresses pertinent issues that are vital for public consumption. It is my hope that you don’t take offence of this. I thank you, once again, for visiting my blog. I am glad you did and please, come again. It is also my desire that you sign up to become a follower. Then, of course I appreciate the courtesy of writing quite a lengthy, well informed and enriching comment to me. It is my hope that this equally lengthy response won’t bother you at all––for it is said that a good turn deserves another. I hope to hear from you again, my brother. Remember me to your relatives and friends in Britain.