On a more philosophical and moral note, the problems of ?Witch Camps,? ?female genital mutilation,? ?child slavery,? ?trokosi,? and ?ritual murder? are serious and tricky subjects. In the meantime, with the possible exceptions of ?child slavery? and ?female genital mutilation,? the remaining three have been somewhat linked to African Religion, this, according to some experts. And who are these experts? That?s not the central focus of this essay, however. On the other hand, granted that this is indeed the case, is it not only wise to tackle them head-on?

Again, if they are, why can?t we muster courage to confront those parts of our culture which threaten our development, our unity? But then again, the issue is not our culture per se, it?s our mindset, given that culture is merely an externalized byproduct of human intellection, of human psychology. Yet culture is a very powerful tool, a social technology powerful enough to override the respected authority of the human mind. It doesn?t always work in our favor to underestimate the power of culture. Therefore, the human mind must learn to make compromises with culture for peaceful and mutual co-existence. Also, the fact that culture lives within and outside human consciousness, either simultaneously or anachronistically, makes the question of mutuality or dichotomy a complicated one.

In fact, culture has a way of ingratiating itself with the human mind and sometimes even making it seem as though it is the human mind itself. That said, the same human mind grants us power to make and unmake those of its material and spiritual products that are antipodal to human essentialism. This dualistic phenomenon can be disarmingly problematic and deceptive to the unwary mind. Against this background, ?Witch Camps,? ?ritual murder,? and ?trokosi? must set us, the conscience of society, galaxy apart from those of our African gods, who, according to a section of our priesthood, have endorsed these practices. For instance, how do we explain the fact that priestly interpretation based on a cardinal-point landing of a beheaded fowl leads to the determination of a woman as a witch and hence her consignment to ?Witch Camps??

In addition, given that materialism and spiritualism are necessarily always mutually exclusive, how do we confirm or disconfirm the divinatory authority of this segment of priesthood? This is a difficult question to answer, at least from the intellectual nakedness of the human mind. That notwithstanding, we disagree with those gods and their priestly representatives both in practice and in theory. Admittedly, we have great respect for African Religion. Therefore, it?s our professed aim to elevate it to its deserved plinth with other religions by divesting it of all negativities, divine- or human-derived.

In fact, if those African gods who have endorsed ?trokosi,? for instance, truly want to right a historical or contemporary injustice, committed by relatives of an innocent girl who is incidentally chosen by the gods to atone for their crimes, by procreation through feminized human agency, then, we are willing to offer them alternatives. We propose they replicate a Biblical precedent: They must learn to have carnal knowledge of womanhood as the fallen angels did. Or, a male African deity who is ready for marriage must be willing to marry a female deity who is equally ripe for marriage, and not, say, a girl child whose developmental biology and psychology are transiently constrained by the straitjacket of youthfulness. In other words, society must not tolerate any god who desires to marry the girl child via the agency of masculinized human priesthood!

Alternatively, ?female genetic mutilation? is another good example of ?terrorism? perpetrated against the ?opposite sex, the female sex. Cheikh Anta Diop has athropologized about it for us. That?s to say, Diopian anthropology established clitoral prepuce as ?penis? in the cosmological embodiment of girlhood or womanhood. Therefore, getting rid of clitoral prepuce restored ?full? femininity to womanhood. On the other hand, penile prepuce, in Diopian anthropological reckoning, became ?clitoris? in the cosmological embodiment of boyhood or manhood. Excising it, therefore, restored ?full? masculinity to manhood. Interestingly, we don?t have clear evidence that Diop either supported or frowned upon the practices, given that it was not his place to accept or reject them. He merely presented the facts as any respected scientist should.

Diop even traced Jewish circumcision to its African, that?s, Egyptian provenance! According to him, Islam and the rest of the world benefited from African cultural origination of circumcision. Also, Diop?s attribution of Judaic circumcision to its African source centered primarily on intra-textual evidence of the Torah. In other words, Diop used the encounter, probably the earliest, between Abraham and ancient Egyptians as one of the bases for his deductive reasoning. In fact, there never was any mention of contractual obligations between Abraham and the Hebrew God as far as the ritual of circumcision was concerned, this, again, prior to Abraham?s first historical encounter with the ancient Egyptians. This was also before Abram changed to Abraham.

Incidentally, thereafter, we see more evidential cases of circumcision performed on ancient Hebrews?in the wake of Abraham?s eventful encounter with Egyptian culture. Quite impressively, we have substantial evidence of Egyptian circumcision on mummified bodies. On the other hand, it?s not easy proving the circumcision of Abraham or any of the ancient Hebrews. There is simply no physical evidence of corroboration in the form of Judaicized mummified bodies, at least not to our present knowledge. Charles Finch has even used his deep knowledge of the language of ancient Egyptians?via comparative and historical linguistics?to account for the etymologies of ?many Old Testament names, Hebrew names for the most part.

Actually, many of the questions we have been raising here are explored in appreciable detail in Diop?s ?African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality? and ?The Cultural Unity of Black Africa.? Ama Mazama?s and Molefi Kete Asante?s edited volume, ?The Encyclopedia of African Religion,? also deals with many of these questions as well. Let?s also add that Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and controversial concepts like Trinity may have directly evolved from the depth of ancient Egyptian religion.

In fact, the entire cultural fabric of Judaism, for instance, was erected when the ancient Hebrews lived in Egypt for four hundred years. Namely, you can?t live in a powerful civilization as ancient Egypt?s for four centuries without being influenced by it in a significant way. Even the so-called Ten Commandments came directly out of ancient Egypt?s 42 Negative Confessions. John Jackson?s ?The African Origin of Christianity,? Gerald Massey?s ?Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World? and ?The Historical and the Mythical Christ? shed more light on our theories of cultural appropriation vis-a-vis Biblical Judaism.

Furthermore, Josef Ben-Jochannan?s ?Africa: The Mother of Western Civilizations,? ?African Origins of Major Western Religions,? ?We the Black Jews,? and ?The Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the Exclusion of Their African Origins,? all explore the historical dynamics of many of these questions. On the other hand, the Flood story came directly from the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. There is also strong evidence that Sumerian civilization was itself African. The late Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, demonstrated via comparative mythology that the Flood myth is not unique to Jews; it?s universal. He made a similar case for the Garden of Eden myth as well.

However, we may also want to add that Diop?s historical examination of circumcision in the ancient Egyptian context focused exclusively on male circumcision. Others have postulated that Nubian circumcision predates ancient Egyptian circumcision (See Gerry Mackie?s ?Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account?). From ancient Nubia, the author believes, the culture of circumcision spread to the rest of the world. Besides, the fact that Western researchers, primarily French and American scientists, use the alleged benefits of male circumcision to establish a near-positive correlation between increased HIV/AIDS transmission and uncircumcised males does not in any way negate the historical factuality of circumcision, whether male or female, as a creative idea indigenous to Africa. Africa has given so much to the world.

Yet, contrary to Diopian anthropological exposition, Philo, an ancient Jewish philosopher who lived in Egypt, cited ?disease prevention, personal hygiene, ease of semen flow, man?s self-knowledge, etc. (Wikipedia)? as constituting some of the major reasons behind the cultural institution of male circumcision. Interestingly, the latter coincides with Diopian anthropological explication. Why didn?t Philo make these claims in ancient Israel or anywhere outside the cultural milieu of ancient Egypt? Why must it always be ancient Egypt?

Having said that, we do have a problem with Philo?s sanitary and cosmological generalizations on circumcision in the context of cultural modernity. A Jewish circumcision ritual, otherwise called metzitzah b?peh (oral suction), for instance, involves a circumciser, a Rabbi who practically sucks the blood from a circumcised penis through the mouth. Unfortunately, disease transmission, like herpes, has been? implicated in the death of an infant (See Ethan A. Huff?s March 9, 2012 article ?Infant Dies After Contracting Herpes During Blood-Sucking Jewish Circumcision Ritual At Hospital?; and Thomas Zambito?s March 3, 2012, New York Daily News piece ?Infant?s Death At Maimonides Hospital Linked To Circumcision?).

This partly explains why some Reconstructionist and Reform Jews don?t endorse male circumcision. They would rather have circumcision ritual replace symbolic conventions. Elyse Wechterman?s provocative essay ?A Plea for Inclusion? makes a poignant case for accepting uncircumcised Jews into the fold of world Jewry. The recent international furor generated in connection with a German ban on circumcision is another case in point (the law has since been reversed). All over in the West, there seems to be momentum gathering against circumcision.

Neither is ?female genital mutilation? peculiar to the non-White world. Indeed it had been practiced on White women in the West for a variety of health, psychological, and medical reasons (See Patricia Robinett?s ?The Rape of Innocence: Female Genital Mutilation And Circumcision In The USA). That said, are ?trokosi?, ?Witch Camps,? and ?female genital mutilation? necessarily good for the general health of the female sex? Is it not surprising that some African women openly support ?female genital mutilation? and ?trokosi?? Is it not surprising that there are African women circumcisers?

Is it not surprising that there are secret African women organizations which support ?female genital circumcision? as well as African male circumcisers? Do we address the controversies surrounding ?female genital mutilation,? ?Witch Camps,? and ?trokosi? from the standpoint of progressive African ethos, cultural relativity, or gender politics? Obviously, society should intellectually drive portmanteaux of investigative answers beyond the frivolities of philosophical considerations to accommodate the humanity of victims.? This is very important.

Yet, a Ghanaian, Efua Dorkenoo, one of the world?s leading authorities on ?female genital mutilation,? says the practice amounts to ?torture.? She also sees it as a human rights issue. In fact, she relies on the Declaration of Human Rights (Article 5); Convention of the Rights of the Child (Article 2, Article 19 (1), Article 24(1), Article 37 (1)); and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Article 5(a)) ?to make her case (See ?Female Genital Mutilation: Human Rights and Cultural Relativity?). As per one of our earlier convictions, Dorkenoo?s activist politics in favor of eliminating ?female genital mutilation? presupposes victims? humanity over other considerations. This is where our national conversation must begin. Kwame Anthony Appiah has also given us a moral guidepost as to where to begin the fight (See ?The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen?).

Finally, we do believe that notwithstanding Diop?s high-flown and well-meaning anthropological theorizing, we must look beyond the immediacy of his grand theorizing to accommodate the realities of medical anthropology, where the dangers of ?female genital mutilation? are studied. Then again, in all fairness, the idea of spiritual pedophilia exercised via ejaculatory martialism of earthly testosterone is a major hindrance to the biological and psychological freedoms a girl child must enjoy. Therefore, priestly pedophilia must allow the natural course of biology to shape the developmental fate of the girl child. This is one of the greatest challenges we face as a people.

We shall return?


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