The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

By Gerald O. West; Musa W. Dube | Go to book overview

THE BIBLE IN THE BLACK DIASPORA:
LINKS WITH AFRICAN CHRISTIANITY
Gosnell L.O.R. Yorke

February This is the month we love, The giant immortelles Splash fire on the hills Hold torches in the dells

(E.M. Roach 1966).

Carter Woodson (1875–1950), the African-American historian, is considered the father of Black History Month, celebrated each February in the United States and, with each passing year, throughout more and more of the English-speaking African Diaspora such as in Canada (see Yorke 1986 and Williams 1997).1 Therefore, the month of February is a time during which Blacks devote much of their attention reflecting on their collective story—one which has to do mainly with forced separation from the Motherland, involuntary servitude or slavery in the Diaspora, ongoing struggle and, ultimately, a semblance of survival against overwhelming odds.

Among others, both Woodson and W.E.B. Dubois (1868–1963), the eminent Pan-Africanist, had much to say about the significant role the Black Church has played in helping “Africans in exile”2 cope and keep hope alive (see Woodson 1945, Dubois 1965, Lincoln 1994). In fact, Dubois is generally credited with the pertinent observation that the oldest institution in the English-speaking African Diaspora is not the family per se but the Black Church with its tap root firmly anchored in the soil of more than 300 years of slavery. During which, European slave traders gave millions (some put the “guesstimate” at more than 50 million) of our forefathers and foremothers a TransAtlantic trip against their collective wills and then coerced them into toiling away on sugar, tobacco and cotton plantations or estates

____________________
1
This chapter is a modified version of Yorke 1997.
2
This (I think correct) characterization of Blacks in the Diaspora comes from the outstanding Kenyan writer in exile, namely, Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1993).

-127-

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