n African Review of Economics and Finance - Energy transition in Africa, Thokozani Simelane and Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (eds.) (2011). : book review

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2042-1478
  • E-ISSN: 2410-4906


There is a story that Walter Bgoya, the renowned former editor of Tanzania Publishing House, recounted to his audience at an African Conference recently. Asan 11-year-old boy in rural Tanzania, Bgoya was taught by the colonial missionaries to regularly confess his sins. On one occasion he was struggling to find something to confess, so his uncle tried to help by asking him to use the ten commandments as the marking scheme. Bgoya started crossing off those commandments of which he had not fallen foul: thou shalt not kill (he had not killed); though shalt not steal (he had not stolen); thou shall not covet they neighbour's wife and thou shall not commit adultery were not commandments the young Bgoya understood, so under colonial pressure, he assumed they were the commandments of which he had fallen foul. He promptly confessed these to the missionaries as his sins for the week, much to the horror of the priest who, even though he could have probed deeper to know these confessions were whimsical, promptly accepted them as the sins of the savage black boy, and took steps to isolate Bgoya and treat him like a sinner (Bgoya, 2014). This is a story about colonial prejudice, the coloniser's superficial treatment of issues in a new environment informed by prejudice, the imposition of standards that are not shared or to which Africans have made no contribution, the blind faith in processes and the consequential embarrassment of Africans and Africa.

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