Africa has been the dumping ground of the Eastern and Western world for ages.
And what has been dumped goes beyond material products.
In fact, one of the most notable thing dumped in Africa is ideas.
Take, for instance, the idea of hell.
I have gone through African literature, especially on issues to do with ancestral spirits and I have not come across any book that talks of an African who talks about hell.
I am referring to the period before Christianity and Islam washed away the fabric of Africanness and left the African bare with no standing ground.
Once Christianity and Islam took root, the African started talking about hell, and the like.
That is a shame because the concept of hell is not African.
It is utter nonsense to believe that African ancestors will burn in hell simply because they lived when Christianity, Islam and other faiths that proclaim the existence of hell had not been introduced.
In Malawi, before Malawi came to be associated with people who live in Malawi, we had intercessors such as M'bona, Mlauli, Chauta, Mphambe, Leza, Chisumphi.
Before I proceed, let me shed light on the names Chauta, Mphambe, Leza, and Chisumphi. These were not names of God, no.
Instead, these were names of real people-- people who were acting as intermediaries between the living and the dead.
In Africa, most African societies that is, it was believed that a dead person was more powerful than a living one. The dead were believed to have attained a higher status, a status of immortality. They would, therefore, live with the living, intercede for the living, and negotiate, on behalf of the living, with the Creator to bring goodies such as rain.
The people who were playing the role of intercessors included M'bona, Mlauli, Chauta, Mphambe, Leza, and Chisumphi.
Unfortunately, due to the mixing of people of different ethnic groups and language backgrounds, others started associating the terms Chauta. Mphambe, Leza, and Chisumphi with God. In fact, these names became synonymous with God.
Well, the truth is that Leza is not God. Leza was the name of a human being. The same applies to Mphambe, Chauta, Chisumphi. These were names of human beings who used to till the ground, drink water, tire out, whip their children, throw up, attend funerals and wedding ceremonies, suffer from constipation, and, of course, intercede for the living.
When these individuals died, they became part of the unbroken chain of life on the other side of the veil, pleading with God, after being asked by the living, to bring rain and water the thirsty ground.
So, when people translate the term God to Chisumphi, Leza. Mphambe, the best they can expect is for Chauta, Mphambe, Leza, Chisumphi to shake in their gravesend.
But God, the one they believe they are referring to when they address Him as Mphambe, Chisumphi, Leza, Chauta, does not listen. He knows these are names of individuals. The names M'bona and Mlauli have not been mistaken with that of God because these were intercessors who came later, and are easily remembered by the ancestors who passed on stories about M'bona and Mlauli through the word of mouth.
It is not true that stories about the existence of M'bona and Mlauli are myths. These individuals, like Chauta, Leza, Mphambe, and Chisumphi, really existed in Malawi. Before selfishness washed away the communal spirit of the African.
The real translation for God is Namalenga (or Creator in English).
Now, back of the issue of the concept of hell.
Leza, Chauta, Chisumphi, Mphambe have never been quoted, orally, as it were, or in folktales, talking of hell.
Hell is a foreign concept, popularised by people who never knew Africa.
There is no hell in original Africa.
Those who lived a good life continue to be sources of good in society, and one of the benefits they get is to have their names given out to children.
Those who lived an unexmplary life get their names buried with them. And that is the extent to which Africans came to giving someone a 'hellish' experience!
Believing in hell is being like a tree without roots, for the roots, the African ancestors, never toyed around with the concept of hell, which is a figment of the non-African's imagination, any way.