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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
March 19, 2017
I never saw the original news publication in which President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was shown cutting the sod to commence work on the construction of an ecumenical or interdenominational National Cathedral. However, I have come across a headline or two railing against the involvement of the government in religious affairs and/or activities. I also hope that the terms “interdenominational” and “ecumenical” have been expanded in scope to include all religious faiths or suasions with provenance or roots in Judaism, which would include both the Christian and Islamic religions, otherwise I was also about to call for a sod-cutting to begin for the construction of a National Mosque.
That would be the logical thing to do, for Christianity and Islam have both played a critical, and central, role in the modernization of the proverbial African Personality, from the establishment of formal educational institutions and the systematic codification of our statutes, or legal system, and customs. This development, that is, the establishment of a National Cathedral, equally necessitates the establishment of a National Center for Traditional Religions. For we were “Animists,” so-called, before we became either Christian or Muslim. And even as our National Anthem, “God Bless Our Homeland Ghana,” indisputably attests, Ghana is a majoritarian Christian country whose Constitution, nevertheless, protects the right and freedom of each and every citizen to practice any religion of their choice, in spite of the fact that the Ghanaian Constitution also enjoins the Separation of Church [read Religion] and State.
But, you just wait a minute, there is a practical contradiction here, if also because our Presidents, Vice-Presidents and their cabinet appointees are routinely sworn in by the use of either the Bible or the Quran. I have yet to see any of our leaders swear by Tigare, Antoa or Akonnedi which deities, by the way, play a potent role in the psyche and lives of a considerable number of our citizens, including many professing Christians, Muslims and other non-indigenous suasions. Here in the United States, for example, there is a National Cathedral in Washington, DC, the nation’s capital, whose liturgical protocol is interdenominational. In England, as well, where freedom of religion has been acknowledged for at least a couple of centuries, the Anglican Church is recognized as the official state/imperial religion. The Anglican Church is also called the Church of England.
Historically, the Anglican Church is an offshoot of Roman Catholicism. The religious incurability of the African has long been noted by such prominent and distinguished African Christocentric clerics as Kenya’s Dr. John S. Mbiti, and Ghana’s Archbishop Peter (A)Kwasi Sarpong. And in a continent where sorcery, or the negative and often deadly use of religious Spiritism, occupies a central terrain in our political culture, it is all-too-foolhardy for any leader or politician who expects to survive and make any significant impact on society to ignore this stark and naked reality. It is for this reason that I felt incontinently elated when President Akufo-Addo recently took time off his hectic schedule to pay homage to Prophet Isaac Owusu-Bempah of the Glorious Word Power Ministries International, who has for quite a considerable while been using his church and congregation as a spiritual bulwark behind the seemingly elusive presidential ambitions of the three-time presidential candidate of the currently ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Needless to say, it is only the abjectly naïve who morbidly and rigidly adheres to the theoretical myth of the Separation of Church and State.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
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