The Head of European Studies at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has advised Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to rethink the priorities of the country and reconsider government’s decision to build a National Cathedral.
In an open letter to the President, the associate professor acknowledged the President’s determination to do something for God by facilitating the construction of a National Cathedral but disagreed that it is a priority for the country.
His letter followed President Akufo-Addo’s spirited defense of his administration’s decision to construct a national cathedral in the capital, Accra, which will be situated on a 14-acre public land.
Despite the resistance by a section of the public, including the minority in Parliament, the President insists the cathedral will be “built to the Glory of God”.
But Prof. Gyampo observed, “inasmuch as this may be a monumental legacy that would outlive you, you are very much aware that our God does not dwell in cathedrals”.
He noted that the construction of a National Cathedral could wait a little longer while government worked on the necessities of making life comfortable for Ghanaians before.
“I think the best national cathedral that can be constructed for God, who loves His children and is interested in their wellbeing, in spite of their human frailties, is a solid infrastructure that makes dialysis machines accessible to people suffering from kidney diseases and generally improves healthcare; delivers quality education to tackle ignorance; generates employment to lift people out of poverty and economic miserization; and makes people comfortable in life by solving general poverty and under development that may push even pious people to land in hell”, the letter read in part.
Prof. Gyampo therefore wants the resources meant for the construction of a national cathedral redirected into government’s intervention flagship programmes like Free Senior High School to better the lot of Ghanaians.
“Kindly tell the very eminent people assembled to raise money to finance this well-intended project, to re-prioritize and channel the funds to be raised to help finance the free SHS or improved healthcare delivery. Let them channel their energies, reputations, connections and resources in attracting investors to the country, so that there would be improvement in the physical quality of life of the people.”
He was hopeful the President will give him and the several others who share in his opinion a listening ear and rescind his decision to build a National Cathedral now.
Below is the full letter:
Constructing a National Cathedral to the Glory of God - A Letter to the President
Your Excellency, I bring you greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ, whom we serve.
As you may be aware, long before you became our President, I was a Resilient Citizen and not a Spectator. Fortunately, I am still not a Spectator under your Presidency.
People like me, are eternally grateful to you and indeed all the leaders of Ghana’s Fourth Republic for the diverse roles played in deepening our democracy in a manner that has sustained our political freedom to speak our minds without fear or favor. The worst that happens to those of us who speak our minds have been insults from a few unreasonable people but we hope these unsanctioned vituperative utterances are feeble in relapsing us into the dark old days of culture of silence.
Mr. President, with the greatest of respect to you, u lived in the UK. I am sure you drove on the Clifton suspension bridge which some people thought of constructing over 200 years ago. You drove under tunnels constructed through mountains and under the sea. You have seen how rail infrastructure and medical care have been developed in the UK. You know how solid their educational infrastructure is. U know their highly advanced healthcare system that improves life expectancy.
Just like you, Your Excellency, I am also a Christian and indeed a Pentecostal Christian who believes in the power of worship that flows from a heart of gratitude like yours. I can understand your sense of gratitude and your determination to do something for God by facilitating the construction of a National Cathedral.
Sir, in as much as this may be a monumental legacy that would outlive you, you are very much aware that our God does not dwell in cathedrals. Unfortunately, not all the big men of God who first built their own mansions, bought their flashy vehicles, sent their children to schools abroad etc, before constructing cathedrals for worship, are bold enough to tell you this.
Indeed, Sir, some of the people on the Committee to facilitate the construction of the national cathedral, are reputable men of God who first made life comfortable for themselves and their families, before they thought about building churches or cathedrals for God. Knowing that God doesn’t live in Cathedrals, they simply prioritized and made do with church services under trees and in school buildings until they were a bit comfortable with life. Before they built their cathedrals, they had cars, mansions and their children were well sorted out in terms of education. Why can’t we extend this same principle to the nation?
Your Excellency, the ubiquity of cathedrals in Ghana and the numerous places of worship, including forests, mountains, independence square, mega churches, dominion houses etc, with respect, reduces your good intentions to facilitate the construction of another national cathedral in the face of unresolved pressing bread and butter issues, to a mere religious luxury and canal political legacy.
Mr President, any fair minded Ghanaian who has interacted with you one on one before, knows that you aren’t the typical African politician. You have always meant well for your people and you have a resilient sense of gratitude to the Lord who fought the 2016 electoral battle for you.
In this regard, I think the best national cathedral that can be constructed for God, who loves His children and is interested in their well being, in spite of their human frailties, is a solid infrastructure that makes dialysis machines accessible to people suffering from kidney diseases and generally improves healthcare; delivers quality education to tackle ignorance; generates employment to lift people out of poverty and economic miserization; and makes people comfortable in life by solving general poverty and under development that may push even pious people to land in hell.
David, like you, also had good intentions and wanted to build a cathedral for God to show gratitude. But for a reason, God said No. Your intentions, Mr President, may be pious, but I think the timing at this stage of our development, is wrong.
Therefore, kindly tell the very eminent people assembled to raise money to finance this well-intended project, to re-prioritize and channel the funds to be raised to help finance the free SHS or improved healthcare delivery. Let them channel their energies, reputations, connections and resources in attracting investors to the country, so that there would be improvement in the physical quality of life of the people.
When this is done and the people are well to do, one Ghanaian, our a couple of them, out of a sense of gratitude, would construct a national cathedral for God. For now, please let us rethink our priorities and make do with the independence square, Sir. If the sheds are leaking, let’s patch so we won’t be at the mercy of the weather, particularly when it rains.
I teach a course called Strategies for African Development and the work of MICHAEL Todaro often comes in handy as an instructive research. Michael Todaro outlines the features and the kinds of things countries do when they are under-developed and argues that the difficulties of today’s developing countries were experienced by today’s developed countries when they were also developing. But he points out certain things being done by present day developing countries that were not done by today’s developed countries when they were developing and argues that these may slow the pace of our efforts to fight poverty and under development. One such thing, in the view of Todaro, is how we as developing countries of Africa, prioritize in the face of scarce resources.
God, I believe, would be questioning our sense of priority and judgment in this matter of diverting attention from mainline governance to think about facilitating the construction of a cathedral. God expects no spiritual but physical interventions to deal with basic developmental challenges including planning and prudent management of limited resources as well as good governance that translates into developmental outcomes tangibly reflected in the pockets of the ordinary people.
Sir, I know you are a listening President and therefore pray that your zeal in this matter would be tampered by some of the issues raised not by me alone, but also other well-meaning Ghanaians, including some of your own party supporters and appointees who are complaining about this, unfortunately, behind the scenes. Thank you Sir.