Colonization has been a hot topic for a while now.
Traditionally understood, colonization was the process whereby European powers, mainly in the 16th and 17 centuries, expanded their reach into newly “discovered” continents, subjugating the indigenous populations and replacing their cultures and religions.
Colonization had happened before during the Greek, Roman and Crusading eras, but not on the scale of the European waves.
The human rights atrocities and destruction of human lives, communities and environment that accompanied this process are well documented.
It would be erroneous however, to assume that colonization has ended.
Slavery, as well as religious and cultural hegemony, may not be as blatant as those dark days, but a mutant form of colonial expansionism is currently in full swing.
No longer territorial, this colonising does not redraw the world map, but its impact is every bit as life changing and oppressive.
Continents like Africa and South America and the subcontinents of India and China, have been colonised in this process, and this time the colonists are Americans.
The USA has been amazingly successful in propagating its culture globally.
One example is that South Africans born after 1985 now speak American English and not UK English as my generation does.
Not only our language, but our eating habits, portion sizes, and fast food culture is decimating populations with diabetes, obesity and sedentary lifestyles as we sit slumped in front of the Americans’ most powerful vehicle of colonisation, our television sets.
Coupled with a rabid global consumerism of chasing the American dream by those unable to afford that dream, and we understand how families and communities have been captured in debt bondage every bit as vicious as the shackles of the old slave traders.
And if that weren’t enough, the American fundamentalism of certain churches, has added yet another a layer of unthinking anti-intellectual brainwashing to the spirits of colonised people. We are so brainwashed we don’t even realise we have been colonised!
And none of this is new.
When Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, which the church commemorates this weekend, he was entering a completely colonised city.
At all the levels described above, including religious power mongering, Jerusalem had been colonised by Rome.
So Jesus arriving as a humble king on a donkey and not on a Roman war horse or chariot reenacted ancient Jewish tradition and made a rebellious statement.
He was protesting the physical and mental colonisation of Rome. His parade was one that recalled the servant kingship of David the shepherd, and the estimated 600000 citizens of Jerusalem loved it. “Hosanna” they cried, seeing Jesus as a new David, a liberator from the Roman tyranny that so controlled and consumed their lives.
But by the end of that same week, in fact by the Thursday night, that same crowd had been flipped by those in power. The colonists had won the battle for hearts and minds.
Jesus had been called out and cancelled, skilfully scapegoated to be crucified on the Friday morning.