Happy Holidays?

As we are entering what has been dubbed the ‘festive season’ we at the Africa Center have been reflecting on what this season means for our community.

Despite the fact that it has become highly commercialized, Christmas is still widely known as the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ (despite the fact that he was born in June, but that is a story for another day). Hence, as a celebration and festive season it is closely linked to the Christian religion.

As a Center that is highly invested in doing decolonial work in terms of anti-racist work in Hong Kong and Asia at large it can often be difficult to separate Christianity from its brutal entry into most of the African continent through missionaries who in many cases paved the road for colonialists, or in some cases where in fact the colonialists themselves.

However, there is more to the history of Christianity on the African continent than colonialism. The most obvious example, that is unfortunately not well known is the long and strong history of orthodox Christianity in the eastern horn of Africa, especially in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where churches date back as far as the 4th century.

Bete Abba Libanos – built in the 12th Century
One of the 11 churches on the Church complex in Lalibela Ethiopia.

In the above picture you see one of the 11 churches found on the Lalibela Church complex in Lalibela, Ethiopia. Built in the 12th century these are not the oldest churches on the African continent, however, they are the most famous because of how they were built. These churches were carved out from volcanic rock found in the region. This means the churches were rather shaped out from the rock than built up – this is the only place in the world where we find this kind of top to bottom creation of structures making them so famous.

Despite these churches in Lalibela, we find other ancient, orthodox churches in other parts of Africa. The oldest known church on the African continent is in Egypt – The Monastery of Saint Anthony that was built around 356A.D.

Oldest Churches in Africa

So what does all of this mean for us?
We do not wish to erase the ills of that have been perpetrated in the name of Christianity on the African continent. However, in the spirit of trying to reclaim and understand our different histories we can also not erase that Christianity has been an important religion on the African continent in the past and continues to be one today.

In this spirit, we wish you all a good festive season in which we make an active effort to understand the festivals that we partake in.

Speaking of celebrations, as the year is coming to an end, we invite you to our end of year party that will be held in the true spirit of Afro-Asian Fusion!

As always we are always at the Africa Center in Tsim Sha Tsui doing the work to Rebrand Blackness in Hong Kong and beyond. Come and join us for our events that are open to the public.

Upcoming Events

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