Duncan-Williams and Ghana's Complications

Fri, 7 Dec 2007 Source: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

As the late President Kwame Nkrumah will tell you, from scratch the Ghana nation-state, as a development project, has been a complicated venture, with the elites making policies after policies that do not emanate from within the traditional Ghanaian environment – hence Nkrumah’s emotional exhortation to develop the “African Personality” as an intellectual, moral, confidence, and spiritual solution to Africa’s progress. But Nkrumah, with some of his powerful African diasporan advisors who didn’t know traditional Ghanaian values enough, couldn’t undertake the African Personality project from within African traditional values adequately, especially in policy-making and bureaucratization, and somehow the African Personality project didn’t metamorphosis deeply with Ghana’s growth. Thus, started Ghana’s complications, snowballing into confidence troubles, moral despair, and developmental dilemma. Those who came after Nkrumah, too, couldn’t appropriate the foundational traditional values powering Ghana for progress and further threw Ghana into snag.

It is from such background that from its metaphysics to its physics, from its development paradigms to its policy-making and bureaucratization, Ghana is entangled in complicated enterprise that calls for simple understanding from within its foundational traditional values, as the Southeast Asians have done, for its progress. But this hasn’t been the case from scratch in a nation-state mired in some cosmological and moral confusion. Nowhere does one see this more than the metaphysics driving Ghana as a development task. Aside from the various cosmologies of the 56 ethnic groups that form Ghana, colonialism with its aspect of Christian mission to bring salvation to the “primitive” African with his/her “pagan” worship stalled, further creating some complications in the Ghanaians’ existence and further stalling natural drive to intellectualize the Ghanaian culture.

It is from such inadequacies in Ghana’s metaphysics, as part of its foundational values and progress, that Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, the towering presiding bishop of the Accra-based Christian Action Chapel, and described by popular acclaim as the “torchbearer of the charismatic movement in Ghana,” widely broadcast statement that President John Kufour’s recent near-death vehicular accident was influenced by evil spirits and juju/marabout mediums, that “Juju Men Want To Kill Kufuor,” and that “President John Agyekum Kufuor might not live to finish his term of office” (The Heritage/www.ghanaweb.com/30 November 2007) reveals the rupture within Ghana as a development assignment. Duncan-Williams prophecy further scrambles the moral dilemma facing Ghana, where instead of Ghanaians’ human agency responsible for their moral predicament; it is rather some unseen, evil, satanic forces manipulating Ghanaians to bring themselves down.

Duncan-Williams plays into Ghanaian cosmology big time in the face of wrenching poverty and mounting gullibility without looking at Ghana’s intellectual milieu. Despite the 56 ethnic groups that form the Ghana nation-state’s societies founded on traditional cosmologies that are shaped by the notion of evil and good, for long, Ghanaian/African theologians have struggled with theodicy – the problem of good God and the reality of evil. In the contending Western and African metaphysics circling in the Ghanaian mind, as juggled by Duncan-Williams, it is seen more in Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologiae” that confesses the existence of evil is the best case against the existence of God – Kufour wanted to be killed by evil machination via a drunken driver used as a intermediary by satanic forces and juju-marabout mediums employed by evil men. Theologians and objective Ghanaians will see this as unconvincing in the struggle to understand this evil against Kufour in a democracy in the face of disturbing moral impasse driven more by indiscipline than some satanic forces controlling weak Ghanaians.

Emmanuel Kingsley Larbi, a renowned Ghanaian divinity scholar, argues that African cosmology with its Supreme Being and the basic idea of Deity is metaphysically caught between explaining the antagonism between good and evil – between why, as Joy FM reported, Apostle Schambach Amaniampong, Overseer of the Christian Redemption International Ministry, says there are “plans by the devil to strike the political leadership” of democratic Ghana “with tragedy.” We see this also in Duncan-Williams’ explanation of the drunken driver who runs through President Kufour’s convoy that the drunken driver got drunk early in the fateful morning, didn’t obey traffic regulations, including presidential sirens, and drove into the President’s convoy because he was influenced by evil forces. This explanation makes human agency, and reasoning, nonsense and all state laws and regulations baloney – even in Africa’s so-called “primitive” era there were law and order.

Added to this perplexing explanation is Duncan-Williams’ assertion that some big-wigs of the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP), scheming to succeed President Kufour, come the 2008 elections, have hired powerful Mallams, juju-marabout mediums and other spiritualists to kill President Kufour. By both Ghanaian Constitution and the NPP’s internal policy regulations, if the President dies the Vice President takes over, and if the Vice President dies the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana and so on. And why will any of the presidential candidates kill President Kufour? For what? In fact, if President Kufour dies none of the presidential candidates, except Vice President Aliu Mahama, will be automatic President. Despite Duncan-Williams’s twisted prophecy meant more for the mass of gullible Ghanaians, President Kufour gave an objective explanation of his party’s internal health – both spiritually and physically – when he told a crowd at Kasoa, where the NPP was showcasing its presidential aspirants last week that, “when he looked around the dais he could not see any sign of bitterness or rancour among the aspirants and their supporters and that the NPP was as solid as ever.”

Still, why would evil men/women like to kill President Kufour in a democratic order? Duncan-Williams didn’t give any practical answer, except that “spiritual orchestration from satanic forces within and outside the country are bent on seeing the demise of” Kufour. Duncan-Williams’ unbalanced argument reminds me of the internationally famous evangelist Billy Graham, who in a recent interview, regretted for not going to a theological school in addition to his divine calling and which affected his ability to interpret Biblical text and other spiritual issues comprehensibly enough from both the spiritual and intellectual angles so as to give a balanced perspectives on pressing human issues.

Still, Duncan-Williams reveal the immense power of certain aspects of the Ghanaian culture against reasoning. In a society which certain aspects of its culture are so strong that it outweigh its objective parts, and which has made most Ghanaians, regardless of their level of education, believe heavily in satanic, evil forces as responsible for most occurrences. The unsatisfactory public morality and Duncan-Williams’ statement that “forces working through thick and thin to spiritually paralyze the process of governance in these dying minutes of the Kufuor Administration,” challenge contemporary Ghanaian elites to re-interpret certain aspects of their culture in relation to their progress so as to further rationalize the society and minimize the level of irrationality. For while the scientific side of the Ghanaian mind demands objective, rational evidence as to why certain strong cultural inhibitions influence them, their brains’ mythopoeic, irrational side entice them to the inhibiting aspects of the culture - to witchcraft, Satanic forces, evil spirits, devils, Malams, juju-marabout mediums, dominance of prophets, or demons, etc.

Can these complicated metaphysical matters of Ghana’s development be addressed with a whole mind, where the Duncan-Williams’ hover around? Can the two instincts of the Ghanaian brain - the rational and the irrational - be made to fit together so as to further rationalize and enlighten the bumpy development process?

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi