the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Friday, July 14, 2006

Racism and Colonialism

There were guest speakers today, foreigners attending the seminary, who
spoke about racism from colonialism, and how that effected their country
today.

The most striking speaker was a man named Benhi from near South Africa.
Here is a paraphrase of what he said:

You must understand that these scares are deep, so deep you
remember them everyday. So what I am about to tell you is very
personal. I see that you all want to be missionaries, and you are all
white. And it scares me. It scares me because I know about the Dutch,
English and German missionaries, and how they helped colonize my country.

My country is rich in natural resources - diamonds and gold - and even
to this day even though those mines are a part of our country - owned by
DeBears - they are guarded by the militaries of Europe and America.
They are their territories, and they are protecting their territory.

...

And the missionaries brought schools to teach us. They taught us good
things and bad things. They gave us the academic discipline to find
more education and eventually be able to ask for our own freedom. But
first they taught us the language and literacy - in their language.
This enabled us to work in their offices, their kitchens, their armies.
Some people think Afrikaans is an African language. No, it is a
European language, taught to the kitchen servants so they could
communicate with the masters and the children.

What was most striking to me was that the three conquers of his country
were English, Dutch and German - the same three ethnic groups
represented by the PCUSA, the RCA and the ELCA, the three major
denominations at this orientation.

When we talked about white privilege in college, my friend DE used to
say, "I hate it. I hate people making me feel bad for being white."
But I don't think the point is to feel bad. The point is to make us
mindful of the situation we are going into.

Earlier this year, I was sitting on the beach after a day of
wakeboarding - which I am not a pro at. And I began to feel downcast.
I started to notice what resources were needed for this day - the boat,
the gas, the truck, the equipment, the food, the spare time - resources
my family didn't have when I was young. And I asked God why I was here
in this place of extravagance on that day. And after a long while of
pondering, the answer seemed to be that I must be ready to produce and
answer for the faith I have in all situations. We must be able to act
tactfully and swiftly in all situations.

I hope this day has stretched more than my mind.

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