"In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall."
I guess the author, Mathew Parris, is comparing the Christians to those spineless non-believers, lost without their good shepherd. And again...
"Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open."
Perhaps instead of Christianity, Africans should consider converting to Parrisianity, and maybe they too would be endowed with the metaphysical gift of gazing into another's soul through the eyes.
As a non-Christian African, I was not too offended, because it seems that Parris' skepticism is not reserved only for us heathens, but for the Christians as well, seeing as that "...their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was (not) unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught."
Oh and there's more. According to Parris, "rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition." Hmm... because nowhere in the Christian/Western world (if we are to abide by this binary Parris seems to set up between African traditions and the rest of the world) have people arbitrarily chosen to follow such leaders?
What a treat.
Update: it seems that God is all the rage these days.
Also, Rombo offers a far more even handed meditation on the same.