“Radical individualism” is a term used to describe-in layman’s terms-the freedom from perceived restrictions such as religious and cultural hegemonies. Basically, the “ideology of non-ideology”. In a personal sense, I was in awe of this phenomenon when I first encountered it, but as I was well too aware, the labels used to define me won’t cease to exist. I’m a black man, and while the idea of gently removing myself from the race (pardon the pun) of “doing as they do” seemed appealing, black people are held captive by one ideological prison, one way or another.
Black people aren’t just exposed to American pop culture and Christianity as the dominant religion in the world (these two don’t always intersect- see LGBT rights and Leviticus 20:13 for an easy example). We also have cultural histories, which are indigenous to Africa and more specifically, our particular language of origin.
What I’ve often found fascinating is the clash of ideologies between a subset of Christianity and the cultural hegemony as a whole. A vast majority, if not all, of African culture acknowledges dead relatives as our ancestors- spirits which protect us from the misfortunes of the world and bring us luck. Ancestors can be communicated with via a sangoma, a shaman who has paranormal vision and abilities throughout the African aspect of ancestry.
Certain Christian denominations call this “demonic”.
I find it ludicrous that a belief in a heaven where our spirits will sit in eternal communion with God can belittle a belief that is strikingly similar to theirs.
Consequently, the vast majority of Africans adopt a hybrid of their indigenous cultural practices and church every Sunday. Those who spit venom at each other are thankfully on the fringes. Thankfully.
But this has created a continent where seeing both culture and religion as constructed social systems is a sort of anathema. To be a “true” black person, you must either be a staunch traditionalist, a devoutly religious saint, or (even better for the masses) both.
Choosing neither will leave your fellow black brothers and sisters speaking about how “colonized” you now are. Which begs the question to be asked- is colonialism strictly white and European?
Not unlike the “racist” definition conundrum, we can’t seem to get together and reach a consensus on whether African philosophy and culture is just as dogmatic as the Christian religion.
And it’s highly probable we never will.
For us, a black oppressor is infinitely better than a white oppressor. What we fail to realize is that oppression is oppression, regardless of who’s doing the oppressing.
So we must be careful not to let our search for continental emancipation lead us from “Africa as slaves to Europe” to “Africa as slaves to Africa.”