Faith and Ghana
20th February, 2014
Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, The General Overseer of the Christian Action Faith Ministries(CAFM), came under attack for praying for the cedi to rise from the depths against the dollar and other currencies. His prayer was described as “comic relief” by none other than the former Head of Monitoring at the Presidency and Ambassador-designate, Dr. Tony Aidoo. Indeed, what the Archbishop was doing, in addition to praying, was drawing our attention to the “God factor” in the life of nations and people. As he pointed out, the Americans proudly have on their currency the phrase, “In God we trust.”
The prayer and the derisive condemnation raise the question of whether prayers and faith have any role at all in a nation’s—any nation’s economic and political life.
On this, those intellectuals deriding the man of God are wrong. Here is why.
First, faith and prayers are an important part of the life of many great nations. America’s declaration of independence and its life is littered with references to God and prayer. Indeed, once a year, the US President organizes a “National Prayer Breakfast”, during which prayers are offered to ask for God’s blessings for America. Actually, many believe that the reason the former Soviet Union collapsed of its own weight was because it did not acknowledge God.
Second, many individuals, myself included, acknowledge the centrality of Allah and faith in life. I cannot recall taking any exam or meeting any difficulty without asking God’s blessing. Indeed, I and many Ghanaians would feel very reassured to know that our President would pray before making important decisions.
To return to Ghana, it is astonishing that we would deride prayers when even in the last elections, God seemed so central. Whether they were genuine or not, our two major parties both acknowledged the centrality of God. One candidate claimed that “The battle is the Lord’s” while the other asserted that “Nyame na osi hene”, meaning “God chooses leaders”. Indeed, even our national anthem sounds like a prayer. Sing it with me and see---“God bless our homeland Ghana---“ Aside from these obvious confessions of God’s omnipotence, I believe that we Ghanaians must realize that we have a special place in God’s universe and that we are a chosen nation. Think about it.
Except for divine providence, how can one explain these unusual occurrences in a small nation tucked into the armpit of Africa?
• The fact that we were the first black country South of the Sahara to gain independence and in the process, inspired black men all across the globe, including one, Martin Luther King Jr., who, after attending our independence celebration in Accra, returned to the US inspired, and significantly advanced the fight for racial equality, culminating in the “I have a Dream” speech and the award of a Nobel Prize for Peace?
• The fact that we produced the only black to ever be the UN General Secretary in the person of Kofi Annan and came within a whisker of producing the first black Pope in many centuries in the person of Cardinal Turkson?
You get the picture. Faith should be central to our nation’s life.
As Proverbs 29:18 states clearly, “Without a vision, the people perish.” That is why we are lost. We need a vision centered on God/ Allah to move our nation forward. The prophet Micah challenges us to “do justice, love kindness and walk kindly with your God.” Even today, Jeremiah rebukes the powerful in 5:28 “They do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy”. Ah, the rights of the needy!!! How much time do our leaders spend thinking of the rights and the needs of the needy? Now, this is not to claim that prayers alone can solve all our problems. Not at all. However, without prayers and righteousness, no amount of economic theorizing, borrowing or big words will lift us from poverty and backwardness. Instead of deriding Archbishop Duncan-Williams, we must lift our voices and join him in prayer, even as we work harder and focus more on those who were the focus of Christ’s mission, the poor and the needy. We must recall the days gone by when men like Bishop Sarpong, Reverend Essamuah and Reverend Senavoe, inspired us in our struggle for the restoration of democracy.
We shall overcome, together and with God.
Let the faithful say “AMEN”.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy