We sadly live in a world that has been divided along racial, ethnic and tribal lines – and on how we have defined ‘our culture’ along these lines. On the African continent we have also suffered from injustices like slavery, colonialism and apartheid, which have led to the establishment of institutional structures that continue to perpetuate behaviours that bring further injustice and unrighteousness.
Freed by God But Imprisoned by Culture unpacks what culture is, what culture is not, and also takes the reader on a journey to the biblical principles of the culture we should aspire to. At the centre of it all is God who created everyone in His image, and Jesus who died for all to be redeemed. In God’s eyes we are all equal, and Afrika Mhlope brings us back to that truth.
The book consists of five parts:
This book confronts many of the ideals that we hold on to in the name of culture, and especially looks into some of the main African traditions and the widespread practice of consulting spirit mediums and ancestral worship. One of the greatest challenges that the continent of Africa faces is ‘religious mixture’. As Afrika states, “Although the majority of South Africans are Christians, the reality is that many are practising a belief system that mixes Christianity with elements of African religion”. The consequences of this mixture have been dire and will continue to be so unless we repent and seek of only true God.
The topic of race (identity by skin colour) can often be an elephant in the room. But Afrika doesn’t shy away from this thorny topic, taking the view that “The colour of a person’s skin is an accidental factor, and the word ‘accidental’ means ‘happening by chance; fortuitous; belonging but not essential; attributive.”
This book left me with an overwhelming sense that we have to overcome the curse of mixed religious and enter into a full covenant relationship with the one and only true God, and we have to intentionally confront the widespread racial, ethnic and tribal prejudice on our continent. Only then will we find the true freedom we long for.
Review by Patrick Kuwana