In the Middle Ages some scrupulous Christian writers were in the business of expanding some biblical accounts that they considered lacking in substance. One of those biblical accounts that they tried to improve on was story of Noah and his sons, popularly called the curse of Ham recorded in Genesis 9: 20-27.
The expansion of the Scriptural meaning which probably was done out of zeal and piety resulted in the demonization, and later, the enslavement and colonization of the black race. It might interest you to know that this malicious interpretation of that biblical story contributed immensely to the hatred of black people, their history, culture and tradition that has endured till date.
Beginning from the 18th century, these prejudices later found their way into the school classrooms and churches in Africa. The consequence became that African schools and churches turned out to be places where Africans were/are unwittingly taught to despise their outlook, history, culture and tradition in the name of education and worship. It is in the bid to correct this anomaly that the Catholic Church has been hammering on inculturation.
Find below the Genesis account in question and also an expanded version of it.
“Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded a to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.”
He also said,
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
May God extend Japheth’s territory;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.” see Genesis: 9: 20 – 27.
Here is an expansion of this text that was done in the Middle-ages. (The expansion holds that the black race are the descendants of the cursed Canaan/Ham; a belief was held tenaciously till the recent times):
‘Now I cannot beget the fourth son whose children I would have ordered to serve you and your brothers! Therefore it must be Canaan, your firstborn, whom they enslave. And since you have disabled me… doing ugly things in blackness of night, Canaan’s children shall be borne ugly and black!
Moreover, because you twisted your head around to see my nakedness, your grandchildren’s hair shall be twisted into kinks, and their eyes red; again because your lips jested at my misfortune, theirs shall swell; and because you neglected my nakedness, they shall go naked, and their male members shall be shamefully elongated!
Men of this race are called Negroes, their forefather Canaan commanded them to love theft and fornication, to be banded together in hatred of their masters and never to tell the truth.’
(Cf. R. Graves and R. Patai, Hebrew Myths (1964), p.12I).