Integrationof West Africans to Denver Community
Integrationof West Africans to Denver Community
Mass migration has been a common occurrence for decades. People havemoved from one geographic location to another for various reasons. Atypical example is the movement of West Africans to countriesoversees, with America serving as destination for some. Those whomigrate to such places have to find ways of integrating to thecommunity they have chosen to migrate to. Christianity hasparticularly been essential in helping the individuals integrate tothe society they migrate to. The understanding of Christian teachingshelps in the integration since the natives and immigrants havesomething in common. The interviewees hail from Denver community andseem to be united through religion since they practice Catholicism.Individuals interviewed include Father Francis, Sister Agnes, AnnaCisse and Frederick Kante. It is evident that religion was essentialin bringing together the immigrants and the community at Denver.
“Currently, there is ample empirical support for the position thatreligion and spirituality can serve as both a positive and negativeforce in people’s lives” (Falb, & Pargament, 2014).
The role of religion in facilitating the integration of individualsinto a given community is evident. The ability to appreciate theculture of other individuals is based on how well one is able tocomprehend their entire way of life. For example, an understanding ofCatholicism by both the Africans and natives at Denver serve as aunifying factor. Religion has played a fundamental role in fosteringpeace and unity among individuals.
The West African priest illustrates the aspect of religion and how hehas been able to integrate into the American culture. Despite theMuslim background that he had, Francis has been able to embraceChristianity as depicted by his staunch Catholicism. The Catholicpriest, currently living in Denver has had to integrate into theAmerican culture despite his West African background. He hasdemonstrated ability in gaining familiarity with the American culturedespite being an African. Fortunately, it has been possible for himto successfully connect with the rest of the Americans and lead asimilar life. It is essential to consider that even though there wasmass migration of West Africans into countries such as America, notall of them have been able to efficiently assimilate and lead a lifethat resembles that of natives. Some joined religion with the goal ofagitating for equal treatment.
“Many in Africa south of the Sahara turned to the Christianteachings of European missionaries” (Davidson, 2014).
The Christian teachings were instrumental in helping Africans learnmuch about the European culture. The ability to do so could have beenattributed to the ease with which they integrated with the Europeancommunity. However, appreciation should be made to the fact that someif not all of the immigrants have been able to integrate into thesociety. Father Francis has particularly been instrumental in showingthat indeed some degree of assimilation has been able to take placeafter the migration of the Africans into the United States. Forexample, the priest has been able to learn the American way of lifeand conduct himself in the same way as they do. Despite having notsuccessfully assimilated into the new way of life, it is essential toconsider that he has been successful as illustrated by his confidencethat he is an integral part of the community (Morawska, 2014). Suchis a confirmation of the fact that the Africans have been able tolearn a culture that is foreign to them. Father Francis hassuccessfully brought out the concept having been in charge of acongregation in Denver. However, it is fundamental to consider thatdespite the assimilation process most Africans still acknowledges theWest African culture (Sanneh, 2015).
“The process of interpretation through which Christianity has beensuccessfully submitted, proceed from its Judaic and then Hellenistictransformations to its contemporary Western incarnation, is not fixedand exclusive series of episodes long concluded but a dynamic processthat has now attained a high-water mark of its African career”(Sanneh, 2015).
Francis admits that he still possesses some of the African ways oflife. His presence in the United States has however been beneficialfor the role he plays in integrating the Nigerian culture with thatof an American way of life.
Sister Agnes’ story is that of an African woman hailing from acountry in West African and has recently joined the Americancommunity as a servant in the Catholic Church. Because she is fromGuinea, it is evident that there is a significant cultural differencebetween her native country and America. She admits that indeed it isa challenge integrating effectively with the American communityconsidering the difference in race and the language barrier thatexists. However, it is essential to appreciate that despite thedifferences that could be existing between the cultures, she iswilling to integrate and live a life that is similar to that of theAmericans. Her determination could be a reflection of the effortsmade by other West Afrikaners to strive and adopt a new way of life.
However, it is fundamental to consider that as she attempts tointegrate into the American community efficiently, there areinevitable challenges. Notably, there is the aspect of the race. Shehas a different skin color with the rest of the people in thecongregation. Some of the members could be having a different opinionabout her and the capability to execute the tasks that she has beenassigned efficiently. It is vital to appreciate that she understandsany negative perception the people could have regarding her. She ispositive that such negative thoughts could change in due time as theycome to appreciate her for whom she is. Her attitude towardintegration into the new community is crucial in enabling her live incohesion with the rest of the family members. Through the attitude,it has been possible to gain the trust of the congregation as they goabout their religious life. It is unfortunate that she is acceptingthe notion of racism while tolerating any negative ethnicity directedtoward her courtesy of her background. It is critical that she takesthe leadership position in the Catholic Church to agitate against theracist stunts that could be directed toward her. She is in aninfluential position to preach against negativity towards people ofother races.
Kante is a Senegalese national who moves into America after havingjoined the Christian Union. He has not had significant challengesassimilating to the rest of the community at Denver. Compared to hispredecessors, his parents have been able to live in New York makingit easy for him to get an overview of life in the United States. Itis evident that Kante’s father has been instrumental infacilitating his integration to the community by encouraging him toundertake lessons in language. The ability to efficiently integrateto the society significantly depends on how best one can overcome theconcept of the language barrier. Communication is a vital componentin ensuring that people live in harmony with one another. It is anopportunity to learn about the culture of different people sincethere is a degree of cohesion that is established between individualsin the community. However, it is essential to consider that Frederickhas had a smooth time integrating to the Denver community because ofthe presence of a huge number of students from Senegal. Frederick hasbeen able to interact with the rest of the students and adapt to lifein America. However, it is fundamental to consider the fact thatpresence of Senegalese students causes more harm than good infacilitating his assimilation process. It is because they havesimilar experiences. There is nothing new that they can learn about.However, considering the farfetched Denver community, with time, itbecomes possible for Frederick to find out how best to integrate withthem. Religion is instrumental in enhancing the integration process.Frederick can interact with the community comprising of people ofdifferent cultural backgrounds. Further, it is essential to considerthat Frederick is eager to join the community and get to learn moreabout them. He heeds his father’s advice of getting to take lessonsto learn English before joining the Denver community. Such is areflection of the fact that he has the quest to integrate to thelarger Denver community. Finally, he employs the concept of religionin calling for unity and acceptance among all individuals. Hereiterates the need for all persons to live in harmony and accepteach other regardless of their cultural background.
Anna has been depicted as a person who has had a rough past havinglived like a prostitute. She hails from Guinea but has been able toget assistance from Sister Teresa who has been helpful in helping herregain back her life. Religion has played a fundamental role infacilitating Cisse’s quest to integrate into the community. As Annahighlights, initially she was portrayed as a lesser being for thekind of work she was doing to earn a living. Further, she admits tonot having been a believer. However, after meeting Sister Teresa, shehas been able to embrace the concept of religion and used the same totransform her life. Cisse has found essence in worshipping God andhas used the same in getting to appreciate the rest of the people inthe community.
The excerpts derived from the interviews are a reflection of howindividuals get to be assimilated to a particular community. Forexample, interviews conducted by people from different parts of WestAfrica indicate that most of them have been able to integrate withthe communities they live in through religion. Notably, most of themhave relied on Catholicism to get to interact and appreciate otherindividual’s ways of life. Despite the fact that religion plays afundamental role in bringing people of different backgroundstogether, it is essential to explore other ways. For example, it hasbeen possible to learn part of the West African culture throughreligion. However, it could be mandatory to explore other ways oflearning about people’s ways of lives. Of significance is the needto establish measures that enable individuals to learn about othercultures via different avenues. For example, establishment ofcommunity activities will be instrumental in bringing people ofdiverse backgrounds together.
Davidson, B. (2014). Modern Africa: A social and politicalhistory. Routledge.
Falb, M. D., & Pargament, K. I. (2014). Religion, spirituality,and Positive Psychology: strengthening well-being. In Perspectiveson the intersection of multiculturalism and positive psychology(pp. 143-157). Springer Netherlands.
Morawska, E. (2014). Immigrant transnationalism and assimilation: avariety of combinations and the analytic strategy it suggests. InToward assimilation and citizenship: Immigrants in liberalnation-states (pp. 133-176). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Sanneh, L. (2015). West African christianity: the religiousimpact. Orbis Books.