According to the biblical account of creation, God created human being on the sixth day. The creation of man and woman was the climax of God’s creative act. On that unique day, God emphatically said, “Let Us make man in our own image and likeness” (Gen. 1:26). Going further we read: “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over every living thing that moves on the earth'” (Gen.1:27 – 28). That is the first account of the creation of man.
The second account of creation of mankind says, “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). In other words, the breath that we breathe comes from God. God takes back the breath at the moment of our death. Recently, I went into a mortuary to see the corpse of my relative. Immediately I stepped into the inner chamber of the morgue, cold shivers ran down my spinal cord. Numerous lifeless human bodies were lying all over the place. The breath of God, which is life, has gone out of them. Therefore they could no longer breathe. I looked pitifully at them, shook my head and uttered these words: “So, this is how life is. We breathe today but tomorrow become breathless.” I imagined myself someday lying among the corpses. I left the mortuary with sadness and bewilderment.
If you and I are still breathing in and out today, then we owe much gratitude to God. Pride must not be found in us because we are not the owners of our breath. It is only God who has the prerogative over our breath. Any human being who intentionally snuffs out this breath of God from anyone is guilty of murder. If one willfully takes away that divine breath from himself or herself it becomes suicide. It is really sad news that a ruthless white police man in the Minneapolis state of America just of recent snuffed the divine breath out of an innocent black American called George Floyd. The cruel white policeman knelt on the neck of the victim for some minutes as he was lying under a vehicle. Groaning under severe pains and feeling short of breath the suffocating young man cried, “I can’t breathe.” The killer policeman continued to suffocate him as if he was the owner of his (George’s) breath. When the crucifier finished his torment, George was almost breathing his last. The evil policeman and his accomplices took him in a wheel stretcher to a hospital where he gave up the ghost. Indeed it was a willful murder and racial bloody rascality.
Historically, the origin of the black Americans goes back to the days of Slave Trade. Many Africans were captured and transported to America in chains as if they were irrational brutes. Eventually when the Slave Trade ended, many of the black African slaves could no longer trace their homes. Hence they were incorporated into American citizenship. They married and raised children of their own. Some of them got intermarried with the whites while some married fellow blacks. In no distant time they grew in number just like the Israelites were in Egypt. By divine intervention the Israelites left Egypt to the Promised Land. On their own part, the fast growing black and mixed coloured community in America had no Promised Land to depart to. Hence they became part and parcel of American citizens.
Having white or black skin is an accident. Apartheid (apartness) is the discrimination against black people by the white who feel they are superior because of colour. The Apartheid Regime lasted in South Africa for many years. In South Africa the blacks are the majority while the whites are the minority. Even the arrival of the white there was accidental. How then can the minority log it over the majority? Thank God that at last the apartheid regime was crushed by concerned African leaders and the philanthropic citizens of South Africa like Bishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Nelson Mandela.
In many parts of the world today, apartheid still reigns. When I was studying in Germany I travelled from Rheinbach to Bonn everyday by train for my Deutschsprachkurs (German language study). One day I entered into a train to Bonn. I found an empty seat where a German was already sitting. Without any suspicion I sat beside him. To my greatest surprise, he sighed and stood up immediately. He left and sat somewhere else. Do you what I did? I spread my two legs and proudly occupied the two seats like a king. On another day, someone polluted the air in our train couch. The white men started to point accusing fingers at me as the culprit because I am black. I shouted, “Entschuldigung bitte, ich habe es nicht getan!” which translates: “Please excuse me, I was not the person who did it.” They looked among themselves suspiciously. In Germany, being friendly to foreigners is known as Auslaenderfreundlichkeit. On the other hand, being hostile to foreigners is called Auslaenderfeindlichkeit. Most Germans are friendly to foreigners including blacks. It is only a small percent that is hostile to them. Those who have travelled out are found in the first group while those who have not travelled out are found in the second group.
Even here in Nigeria some people are hostile to non indigenes while some are friendly to them. What of you and I? No condition is permanent. Travelling can make us become foreigners or non indigenes. In our country Nigeria we believe in one nation, one destiny only in theory. But in practice some tribes are marginalized or treated as inferior citizens. For some years now, the divine breaths of thousands of innocent Nigerians, have been cruelly taken away by Fulani herdsmen armed with AK-47 and other sophisticated weapons. Till today none of them has been brought justice. The breath of a cow nowadays in this country seems to be more valuable than human breath.
The biblical account of human creation underlines the fact that God created them man and woman. There was no emphasis on the colour God created them. Most artists paint the images of God, the Angels and Saints in white colour. On the other hand they paint the images of the devil and his agents in black colour. Terminologically speaking, when an awful event happens in a definite day, it is called black day. In Germany if someone travels by train or by bus without payment it becomes black travel (schwarzfahrt). It is a criminal offence. Those with apartheid mind portray black as something bad or evil while something good is connected with white. Even death is symbolized with black while heavenly glory is symbolized with white. Some time ago a black Nigerian couple begot a white child that looked like a European. The husband was extremely happy. When I heard about it, I laughed and commented that the happy black husband should ask his black wife if she played an away football match with a white man living in Nigeria. If not, the white child with curled hair and pointed nose becomes a miraculous child.
White colour is good. Black is beautiful. It is only the external body membrane that is white, black or coloured. The inner body membrane of both white man and black man is totally reddish in colour. A trial will convince you. Just skin your body a little and see. It is an eye-saw seeing a black man or woman applying bleaching cream in order to transform his or body into white or coloured. Such a person is an ingrate questioning God over his or her body appearance. Recently I saw a young lady whom I knew before as a beautiful black lady. But now her body is multi coloured with black spots scattered all over her dwindling skin due to excessive bleaching. Her face is fanta while her legs are coca-kola. Presently she looks so ugly that she has become priceless. When she wanted to lift a certain little girl of three years on her shoulders, the child screamed and ran to her mother shouting, “Mummy, Ghost!” By bleaching, a normal human being metamorphoses into a ghost.
To drive my point home, the breath of a white man and that of a black man belong to God who created them. No colour is superior to the other. Therefore racial discrimination is an offence against God. It is also an infringement of human right. In many parts of the world including America and Europe, black footballers are professionals. God himself, the Angels and Saints are neither white nor black. In other words, colour is an earthly quality. In heaven we shall all be like the Angels and Saints. Black people and white people who live good lives on earth will inherit the Kingdom of God on equal basis. Also in hell, Satan, who is the commanding officer there, does not know who is black or white. While we are still here on earth we must refrain from toiling with the breath of others by torturing him or her (white or black). Let us allow others in our places of work, in families, communities, states, in Nigeria and all over the world to breathe. One of the signs of coronavirus infection is difficulty in breathing. Therefore if anyone makes breathing difficult for others, that person becomes coronavirus himself or herself.
By Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuma
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