Home > Society > African Voices On > Religion: Oppressor or Liberator?

Centuries back, Karl Marx said that religion is the opium which drags people to accept poor conditions without complaining. The impact of religion over the course of history has been very monumental and innumerable events on a wide scale have unfolded due to the impact of religion.

Religion in Africa has been very influential and it has shaped people’s lives in various ways, both in the negative and positive light. However, religion seems to be blinding people, often distancing them from reality. The majority of Africans find solace in the spiritual sanctuary and are thus afraid to face reality head-on. Hence, the suffering of some Africans becomes cyclical, in essence, becoming perpetual. An overdose of religion usually leads a person to deny reality. Now this author is not saying religion is abhorrent.

Delving into this, I have noticed that certain religious leaders especially with Christianity will discourage their Church members from taking part in matters that decide the fate of their respective nation. They will discourage the congregants from taking part in political matters that happen to affect directly or indirectly how their lives will function. Some Church leaders knowingly and unknowingly advocate passivity. Such that members come to accept that the situation in their country does not have any solution except for divine providence. They then accept their poor conditions, even though it will be apparent that the political leaders are messing with their lives and only citizen action will solve things. Passivity is inherent thus.

In this aspect religion becomes an oppressor, instead of enlightening people so that they are liberated. It shuts the will of a person to view things critically, as doing so may be perceived as an infringement of God’s will.


There are instances in which certain religious leaders prey on the people’s desperation to exploit them. Hard-earned money is fleeced off from them as the congregants have faith that their situations may turn around for the better. Oppression pervades many facets of religion. Some congregants, because of their desperate circumstances, are forced to do some  of the most egregious and atrocious acts for example being made to eat grass, being sprayed with insecticides, being made to drink raw sewage and so forth. This is pure oppression of the mind beyond any reasonable doubt. Religion must liberate people not oppress them.

Oppression is apparent with Islamist extremist militant groups which wreak havoc in communities under the guise of religion. A sane mind will just tell you that the acts of horror which these militant groups commit are an attestation to oppression. Religion becomes a tool of apprehension. Which is utterly detestable.

Religious leaders must emancipate their congregants so that they are liberated. Right now many Africans are afraid of challenging their political leaders when they go wrong because religion has stifled the mind’s ability of questioning things. The questioning sensibility, a vital component of human survival, is taken away when religion is taken to the extremes.

Religion must not be a form of terrorizing people, must not be a form of escapism, must not be a form of exploitation but must liberate the people for the greater development of the bright and lovely continent of Africa.

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