Amavi: Ma, is God a white man?
Mma Jo: ‘Ma’ is what you use to call any elderly woman you know. But ‘Mama’ is for your mother. Amavi, why do you ask such a question my child?
Amavi: Sorry, Mama. But it is because at church on Sunday, the father is white; I have never seen one of our people shake the incense or read the prayers to God. So God must be white and He must like white people.
Mma Jo: Ah my child, it is not so. God is not white.
Amavi: So Mama, does He like our people too?
Mma Jo: Yes my child. Our people have known God since before the white man came. God has spoken to us through the rivers and the lakes. He has shown us his face in the mountains. He has come to us in trees. Why do you think our fathers built shrines? Our fathers knew God. And they were so powerful.
Amavi: Is the white man powerful, Ma? I mean, Mama?
Mma Jo: Amavi. Our fathers had shrines. The white man has churches. These are the same things. Places of worship to God.
Amavi: Is the white man’s God more powerful? Why do we go to the white man’s church? Why do we not go to the shrines?
Mma Jo: This is the age of the white man. The white man has come to us. He has shared his ways of knowing God and his strange language, with us. So we learn it. We sing with him. We recite the prayers. We find ourselves in church on Sunday. But when we need more, when we cannot find the answers we want, we go to what our fathers taught us.
Amavi: The white man is not our father then. Why do we call him Father? And why can’t the white man’s God answer our problems? What good is He then? What are we serving Him for?
Mma Jo: It is the same God, Amavi. There is no black God, no white God. But God reveals Himself to black people in a way they can understand. And the same applies to white people. The white man has accepted us and wishes to teach us his ways- his ways of reading, writing and ministering to God. And we accept these ways. It is the same God, Amavi.
Amavi: Why not do away with the shrines completely then? Why place value on them?
Mma Jo: Hush Amavi. You ask too many questions. [in a hushed tone] We cannot yet see the power in the white man’s worship. This is why you do not see black priests in the white man’s churches. We enjoy watching the white man and his Christian ceremonies. It is attractive to us because it is mystic and mysterious. But we cannot feel it.
Amavi: nor understand it
Mma Jo: nor make use of it
Amavi: but it is beautiful
Mma Jo: very wonderful
Amavi: all the stories, the gospel of baby Jesus
Mma Jo: Israel, Moses, the prophets
Amavi: God the Father, God the Spirit
Mma Jo: and Xŏla [the Savior], Yesu Kristo.
Amavi: Amen and amen!
Mma Jo: Amen oh. Amavi, you must go to bed now. It is quite late. Tomorrow you must take Exornam and fetch enough water for the house before your father gets home.
Amavi: Thank you Mama. And goodnight.
Mma Jo: Goodnight my daughter.


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