Ham out of a curse meant for Canaan” (99). If this inferred belief about Hamitic peoples on the part of Israelites is true, then its influence must spread beyond Genesis 9:25–26. This requires a response from Hamitic peoples, a hermeneutical response. In the words of Oduyoye, “It is the business of blacks to expose the inherent antiHamitism, which resulted in the paradigmatic extermination of the Canaanites…” (99). In light of this understanding of Israelite ideology, which permeates the entire Bible, any hermeneutic which uncritically reads with the text must be ultimately self-defeating for contemporary Africans.
This argument need not demand that the Cain and Abel story be read in a particular way in Africa. It does demand a hermeneutical approach which leaves open various, and potentially contending, readings in various contexts. The Kariyu people of Eastern Ethiopia have been pushed off of their fertile grazing lands along the Awash River by the government, and have been forced out into an arid semidesert which threatens their nomadic way of life. When I read about these oppressed people, I felt nothing but sorrow for them. When I visited them, however, and I saw tall and powerful men striding through the brush, guarding their herds with AK-47 assaultrifles, I also felt fear. The Cain and Abel story must be allowed to be as complex as contemporary Africa.
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