JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
R. S. Basi, author of The Black Hand of God
A groundbreaking look at the history of Christianity, Black Feminism and the African-American Church, The Black Hand of God (The Marked, LLC, 2009) explores the teachings and convictions of Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita – founder of the first Black Christian movement in sub-Saharan Africa whose contributions – shamefully – too few are aware of.
Told through the narrative of a man embarking on his own personal spiritual journey, the book highlights Kimpa Vita’s efforts to free and protect her people from physical and spiritual enslavement.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write The Black Hand of God?
R. S. Basi: What really inspired me was the almost complete dearth of information in the public realm about what could and should be a highly celebrated life. The more I learned more about Kimpa Vita’s story and the impact she’s had on world history, the more I came to realize just how important it was, and is, for people to know about this amazing woman.
JP: What sets The Black Hand of God apart from other books in the same genre?
R.S.B.: Two things: First, it is written from an Afro-centric point of view, which is not something we see too much of. Much of what we’ve learned and continue to learn come from a strictly Euro-centric perspective. Secondly, it is written as a story instead of academic treatise.
I really wanted readers to become engaged in both the truth about Kimpa Vita and what she represented, and also care about this one man’s journey towards developing his own personal relationship with God.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to The Black Hand of God getting out to the public?
R.S.B.: In short: Word of mouth. Yes, I want readers to enjoy the book. But I really want it to stay with them long after they’ve read it. I want it to fester in their minds and inspire them to discuss it with others. I want the subject matter and what it represents (the possibilities inherent in different interpretations of history) to drive curiosity.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish The Black Hand of God?
R.S.B.: I started by reading what was available in academic circles, including translations of the journals of some of the priests. I then read and reread books about the time period, what was happening in Congo, what was happening with the church, and the like. From there, I just began writing and then rewriting. It took years as an on again, off again process.
JP: What’s next for R. S. Basi?
R.S.B.: I want to see this story reach a broader audience. Perhaps a film?
If there’s one ultimate message I hope readers will take away from this book, it’s that God is not what you are told. God is what you believe.