THE POWER OF IMAGES
Man’s aspiration, inspiration and creative mind, is shaped by the visual effect of images surrounding him. I remember back in school, the only images available to us in text books, posters on classroom walls, history lessons, televisions etc. were either those of white men who were explorers, missionaries, scientists and a God, or black men who were military leaders, politicians, pastors or a devil. Then I wonder why too much is expected of a black child, when he or she is continually bombarded with images, which make him feel inferior to his white counterpart, who have every reason to have more self-esteem. I don’t know how we expect a black child to aspire to be an inventor, though the only visuals known to him are those of white men, and yet we are baffled at how the mind-set of the black youth is financially corrupt, when the only images they know of people that look like them, are those of corrupt military leaders, politician and pastors who oppress the poor by flaunting wealth stolen from the innocent people.
The African intellectual community should be ashamed of themselves for not challenging or correcting these historical lies and damaging educational legacy left by the colonizers. Till date African students are still being taught the conquest of Africa by the colonizers e.g Mungo Park discovered the sea route to river Niger; there were fishermen already fishing along same sea route. The crime commited by the west all over the world is omitted from school curriculum, there absolving themselves from the guilt of their sins. This makes it seem as if all that the colonizers did in Africa was good. I don’t know why African students are not well informed of true black history, like the story of Nelson Mandela, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Martin Luther King jr., Malcolm X, Thomas Sankara, Fela Kuti and many more activists. When I was growing up I didn’t know of any black inventor, but for the internet which now avails the possibility of research.
African religious leaders have proven to be either ignorant or have no knowledge of the history of their religion.They have helped in fostering images which are damaging psychologically to the black child e.g Michael Angelo’s painting of Jesus, Islamists who copy the idea of strapping explosives to themselves and murdering more Muslims; leaving Islamic kids with the image of a glorified terrorist.
The Catholic Church should be held in contempt for distorting history and their refusal to correct it, their idea of instilling false image of God in the mind of our youths is holding them back mentally. If Michael Angelo’s painting of Jesus Christ isn’t the true image of him, why then was the painting adopted by the Catholic Church and even when the damage had already been done, why won’t they now correct history? Some would question what difference would it make if Jesus was white or black? Then I ask them what image of God do they picture in their mind when they pray? It is definitely the image of God that we see in our churches, homes and all around us. So if black children see their God as white, they would always feel inferior to white people, foreign religion and African history written by none Africans, have so much taught us to devalue ourselves, that we lost all sense of dignity.
By Samson Onoja Itodo