There is, of course, an uncomfortable neo-colonialism to this mission, one reinforced by countless pictures of the white pastor greeting a room full of black Africans. Yet according to some observers, the obvious racial overtones may not matter. “Black Africans follow people like Rick Warren because of a culture of dependence created by generations of exploitation in Africa by the West,” Pastor Joseph Tolton, executive director of The Fellowship Global, a progressive network of African and African-American clergy, told The Daily Beast. “White leaders from the West partner with Africa’s elite to control the wealth and the people for their own ends.”
There is part of me that thinks that the days of the white missionary in Africa “doing good” are heading for the sunset. There is a whole generation of Africans growing up disconnected from evangelical messaging and benefitting from the growing accessibility to knowledge and information. Theocratic radicalism (evangelism) preys on the vulnerability of the poor who will believe anything they are told about what’s causing their misery. Especially if the message is from a white preacher.
We need to first break from this belief that we are sheep needing guidance from the West. If we can’t break from the ‘victim’ mentality that slavery and colonial legacies bequeathed us, we’ll never truly be emancipated.