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Opinions Wed, 30 Jan 2019

Freemasonry and the Ghanaian Society – Part 1

The Grand Lodge of Ghana (GLOG) is exactly 10 years old.

Congratulations to all Freemasons in Ghana.

To mark the occasion, the media was invited to the press launch at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra on January 24.

The moral imperative of public relations excellence requires of us to subject that meeting to the same standards and intellectual analysis that we give to all public relations events.

‘What do you understand by ritual?,’ the Grand Master (GM) asked a questioner for clarification.

‘Sacrifices….blood sacrifices,’ came the reply. It was an excellent question from the GM.

‘A ritual is something you do every day. Anytime you go to church, the observances you go through constitute a ritual,’ explained the GM.

He even added that these days the wives of Masons rehearse their rituals with them before they attend meetings.

There was a wicked joke from the MC to top it up: ‘The GLOG is one of the biggest private blood donor organisations in Ghana. So some of you who hate masons may have a Freemason's blood running through your veins’.

So the blood and ritual issues were dealt with logically and convincingly.

Now let us look at the organisation of the event itself.

There were very solemn opening and closing prayers with music.

The three speeches ( from the Planning Committee Chair, the Grand Secretary and the GM) were short and concise, all with the theme that exposed Freemasonry (FM) as a society that taught men morality and practiced charity; to build a better society.

But which was the keynote address?

The GM was basically invited to make comments which metamorphosed into unveiling and explaining the anniversary logo.

There was enough room to answer questions.

Let us get a fuller view of this.

The meeting started at 5:06 pm and ended at 6:50 pm; more than 104 minutes of which the three speeches which included the unveiling of a 10th-anniversary logo lasted about 20 minutes.

Hence the question and answer session went on for about 80 minutes.

As this blog has always maintained, we can only build a better society when we use logic, clarity and precision to advance public discourse.

On this note, we commend this panel session for being exemplary.

The panel was more than forthcoming with answers; panelists took the liberty to take back the microphone from their colleagues to assist with more logical and clearer answers or to add to what had been said.

‘If you are not part of a group why do you want to attend their meetings?’ was a very funny logical rebuff to all those who say the Masons should open their meetings to the public.

It made perfect sense.

The panel member added that he was in the Boys Brigade of the Methodist Church and explained their practice.

‘If even as children in the church, we were encouraged to have secret handshakes to identify ourselves, then what is wrong with Masons having secret handshakes?

I liked that answer very much because I was once a BB.

But there was one answer which the panel struggled with: ‘Where are your wives and why can’t women join?’.

Interestingly that question came from a lady.

The panel had difficulty convincing the audience.

The sheer amount of time and effort spent on this one says it all.

Answers varied from ‘the history of stone builders of medieval Europe who travelled for years away from home building cathedrals’ made it impractical for women to join because they had to serve as housewives, to…. ‘there are presently female only lodges in Europe’ where ‘We can attend their meetings but they cannot attend ours’ and ended at present day United States where ‘lodges exist with both male and female members’.

‘In Ghana, we take the women as our responsibility….we invite them for some of our events,’ was the final follow up answer.

It was not convincing and conclusive; it deviated from the logical consistency of the night.

Last year, I attended the Masonic book launch by panelist Abraham Gyesie where this same matter came up.

The explanation then after several attempts were ‘Maybe one day, women lodges will be formed in Ghana….maybe women will be allowed to join us….we will encourage the women to form their lodges and we will give them our ritual books’.

It was the same GM speaking then.

Masonic literature is available from bookshops all over the world and also online – but the danger is that one will never know which site is authentic.

We have asked and done our research. The answer is simple.

‘Women do not join pure ancient FM simply to negate the charge of WITCHCRAFT from its detractors. Ditto for the men! No one can be initiated into Wicca without the opposite sex being present.’

This answer makes perfect logical sense were you to ask: ‘So the women’s lodges, do they not also trace their history to the medieval stone builders guilds?’.

Another questioner was worried about Masons in Gabon using their masonic influence to control that nation’s politics for 20 to 30 years.

He felt that other Masons around the world should use their touted moral influence on their colleagues in the Central African nation and bring them to order so that citizens will feel some relief.

But the MC responded that he believed the Gabonese were capable of solving their own problem.

That was cold.

It did not portray Ghanaian Masons as willing to speak frankly and candidly to their colleagues privately or publically when they are doing the wrong things.

Bro. Zuzanka Penn, Grand Master of the Order of Women Freemasonry speaking to the Telegraph in December 2015, stated: ‘In every organization, there are good and bad. I’m not saying every Freemason is a perfect person. We all do bad things – we try not to but we’re human beings and only God is perfect’.

Tru’Dat; Ms. Penn – well said!

And particularly so when the panelist Christian Adomako who has been a Mason for about 50 years had explained that their members actively take part in politics in their private capacities.

There were photographs and names of Ghanaian politicians who were Masons displayed at the launch by the ad agency Lowe to buttress this…….and there was a big plastic flower bouquet on the high table partially blocking a clear view of the panel.

We applaud the panel for their bravery.

But we did not know who was in charge.

Was the MC the head of the panel?

Did his answers override that of the other panelists?

Who had the final word among the six-pack panel?

Why was the Grand Secretary who apparently gave the most important speech not seated with the panel?

Is he not the public face of the institution?

And where were the copies of the GLOG Constitution; why were they not made available?

Are they available anywhere because we have been asking and searching?

It will be good to know that the GLOG Constitution is compatible with our National Constitution.

Verdict; very open and frank discussions. Satisfactory on protocol.

Feedback; ato@writersghana.com

Writers and Shakespeares Ghana Limited exist to be a moral and intellectual guide to the best practice of PR and integrated communications around the world, beginning with Ghana

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah