All countries tell lies about each other because it suits their politics, their geopolitical agenda or, through ignorance, their lopsided view of foreign reality. During the cold war you could not get a realistic view of the other side because propaganda, misinformation and jingoism were the norm. The cold war is supposed to be over but the world has tamely returned to its infantile jingoism and self-serving caricatures as if it has learnt nothing at all.
The truth is that all Colonists think their former colonies are peopled by insufferable plebs. For example the British as a people, and nearly all of its upper class, regard Americans as crude, uncultured, loud, bombastic people who are peeved by their inferiority. This has something to do with the USA being a former colony of Britain, and the old imperial dynamic of command, control and coercion no longer pertains, but such outlandish sentiments are still very much rooted in the British sub-conscious.
On the other hand the Americans think the Chinese are sub-human, even though China outranks America on every measure of civility and culture, and this attitude was typified by California's Chief Justice, as I mentioned in a previous article, that in a landmark case, People vs. Hall, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Hugh Murray said that the Chinese were, " a race of people whom nature has marked as inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point, as their history has shown; differing in language, opinions, colour, and physical conformation; between whom and ourselves nature has placed an impassable difference"
When it comes to Africa it is as if the West, in spite of their self-serving rhetoric to the contrary, has an unquenchable addiction for pouring scorn, slander, invective, myths, distortions, and demeaning stereotypes over Africa and everything African.
If anyone doubts this assertion then put "African leaders" in any search engine (and it is certain the search engine will be Western) and analyse the first 100 results. This makes it easy to percentile the results as I did and almost half (47%) were negative or associated with something bad. The search engine claimed to have 156 million results and yet they could not list on the first page no more than 2 or 3 positive articles. When "European leaders" were put in the same search engine, the search engine claimed to have 36 million results and the first page mentioned just 1 negative result and the first hundred results had a negativity of 4%. Even something as supposedly objective as a search engine had little good to say in the first few pages about Africa or its leaders.
It seems that Europe and the European diaspora have been conditioned, like Pavlov's dog, to react in a knee-jerk manner to what they perceive as African reality but in truth it is a reality that exists only in their minds. Africa has been never like what the racist, self-serving, dilatory historians portrayed, but even if their most lurid fantasies had some semblance of truth, the situation in Europe was as bad or, as some recorded events show, considerably worse.
People tend to forget that when most European countries were impenetrable jungle with its primitive inhabitants domiciled in caves, (and people like Hengist and Horsa who are the British ancestors hundreds of years removed from setting foot in Britain) the African country of Ethiopia was ruling Egypt; a country it ruled for a hundred years starting from about 750BC. But even before that the first book of Moses says one of the four great rivers that flowed in the Garden of Eden flowed through Ethiopia, "And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia." (Genesis 2:13)
When Ethiopia ruled Egypt (and that is why many Pharaohs had black skins and African features as shown by their statutes) a very important prophet was ministering in Israel and said many things about Ethiopia and here is one instance, "And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying..." (Isaiah 37:9) Other prophets mentioned Ethiopia because it was an important country, prophets like here (Ezekiel 29:10) and here (Nahum 3:9) and here (Zephaniah 3:10) Ethiopia (Africa) had great leaders and were responsible for much of Egyptian development yet very few people are aware of them or their contribution.
It is a certainty that few people would ever have heard of the great African leaders like Kashta the Kushite, Shabaka, Tarharqa, and Tanutamen or the more recent West African ones like Sundiata, Mansa Musa and Sunni Ali Ber. It is not fashionable in the West to give Africa credit for anything noteworthy or to credit it with anything seen as developmental and progressive. It is for these reasons that Cecil Rhodes could march into Zimbabwe, observe its well-ordered society and modern structures and call it Rhodesia; as if it was an asteroid fragment found on a deserted landscape.
The lies they tell about Africa would be laughable if they did not carry such appalling undertones for all society. Lies in general are destructive and immoral; whether you believe the lies you tell or merely trot them out because of intellectual laziness. Lies take a heavy toll on any society.
In the Old Testament times one of the capital crimes in the Bible was perjury in a capital case. Lies were deemed so serious that in some situations you could lose your life if you were found guilty, "If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness is a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. " (Deuteronomy 19:16-21)
Lies are appalling to any right-thinking people and yet so many act as if lying is no big thing. In truth, lies and society go together like termites and wood with the consequences becoming inescapable as time proceeds. Here are some reasons why.
1. Lies lay the foundation for injustice
Many innocent people have lost their lives because of lies. Many millions more have lost their liberty, sanity, livelihood and much else because of lies. Lies very often are the rationale or excuse for acts of rampant injustice and often the liars deception are only found out afterwards.
Many an innocent man died because a corrupt cop lied, "He has a gun" and killed him.
Many a black man was lynched in the deep American South because of lies.
Many Iraqis died in the war of 2003 because of lies relating to weapons of mass destruction.
Many people suffered untold agony in 2008 because greedy bankers lied to them about finances.
Everybody knows about lying; it is evil, can be very destructive and is of the devil, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44)
2. Lies corrupt the heart and tarnish the soul
The Bible states God's aversion to all forms of lying and relegates the unrepentant liar to hell like this, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, AND ALL LIARS, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
It is certain that many people, including some so-called Christians, are not cognisance of the debilitating effect lies have on their lives. You cannot make a habit of lying without consequences, whether that lying is related to people of other ethnicities or to each other or are merely so-called "white" lies.
The truth is that Satan cares not why believers fall, or that you find it difficult to live a victorious and blessed life; for he wants you to fail and if he can get you to accommodate lying as your besetting sin then he captures your soul. It's as straightforward as that.
3. Lies poison and destroy the conscience
The Apostle James had some strong words to say with regards to the tongue, for he would have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by that member: "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." (James 3:8)
One of the most damaging effect of lies is that it sears your very conscience. Your conscience is the vital small voice that gives you the sense of what is right and wrong, that governs your thoughts and actions, urging you to do right rather than wrong. When your conscience is broken, or smashed you lose that correcting and refining influence to keep you on the right track. People with seared consciences are known to have committed terrible crimes against humanity, and some "so-called Christians" do the most unconscionable things.
The Apostle Paul dealt with many liars, and he alluded to them like this, "Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." (1 Timothy 4:2) Who can forget the lethal action taken against the lying of Ananias and Sapphira, when in pronouncing their death Peter said this, "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?" (Acts 5:3)
So whether you are one of those that engage in lies about Africa, your neighbours, or foreigners or those you consider your enemies then desist and grow in grace and in the love of Jesus Christ our Lord. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2)
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013