Opinions Mon, 6 Mar 2017

Was Bishop Heward-Mills Named After That Gay UN Diplomat?

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

March 2, 2017

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

This obsession with homosexual proscription among many a fundamentalist Ghanaian preacher – their preferred title of choice is either Bishop or Prophet – amuses me in no mean measure, if only because it exposes these men and women of the cloth, as it were, for the vocational charlatans that the bulk of them may be. I know many of these bishops and prophets have made quite a bundle of dollars and cedis plying their xenophobic trade, which may explain their inordinate obsession with the same. But, of course, if one were to ask any levelheaded Ghanaian citizen of any progressive-minded continental African what the greatest problem plaguing the proverbial Cradle-of-Humanity and Civilization is, today, sexuality – homosexual or heterosexual – is likely to be well down the list, if at all.

The controversy that was reportedly sparked in the Johannesburg township of Soweto by Bishop Dag Heward-Mills, the quite notable young Ghanaian Presiding Bishop of the Lighthouse International Chapel, the Christian evangelical franchise equivalent of MacDonald’s, the American fast-food restaurant chain, was, for the most part, as far as yours truly was concerned, a patent non-issue. Bishop Heward-Mills was widely reported, towards the end of January this year, to have provoked a locally renowned South African choreographer and radio personality, Mr. Somizi Mhlongo, to walk out on his sermon at the Grace Bible Church in Soweto. Mr. Mhlongo is widely known to be openly gay, or homosexual, and found Bishop Heward-Mills’ tirades against homosexuals and the LGBTQ community from the pulpit to be both insufferably offensive and immitigably un-Christian. He is also reported to have been very upset with those homosexual members of the Grace Bible Church who had not walked out on Bishop Heward-Mills’ homophobic sermon, and instead decided to patiently suffer such flagrant verbal and emotional abuse by the visiting Ghanaian prelate (See “Heward-Mills Causes Controversy in SA Over ‘Gay’ Sermon” Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/23/17).

For me, personally, though, what was fascinating about the news report had to do with the first name of the Scandinavian-Ghanaian Bishop Heward-Mills. And it is “Dag,” as in Dr. Dag Hammarskjold, the immortalized second United Nations’ Secretary-General, who was tragically killed on or about September 18, 1961 over the Victoria Falls, on the Nile, near the renowned township of Ndola, Zambia, in a plane crash, while negotiating for the cessation of hostilities among factional leaders in the newly independent former Belgian-Congo, or Congo-Kinshasa. Very likely, Bishop “Dag” Heward-Mills who may be approximately the same age as yours truly, was named after this globally renowned and respected diplomat for whom the forecourt of the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City has been renamed.

To-date, there continues to be conflicting accounts vis-à-vis what brought down the airplane carrying Dr. Hammarskjold. What we know presently is the certain possibility of its having been brought down by one of the warring forces of the Lumumba-Kasavubu factions of the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo. Some have even suggested the involvement of personnel from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Whatever the real facts of the Hammarskjold Story may be, what is well known but hardly ever discussed is the alleged homosexual identity of the man with whom Bishop Heward-Mills shares the first Swedish-Germanic name of “Dag.” In sum, what I am thinking about here is how the Lighthouse Chapel International Church’s founder would feel, if he suddenly discovered that he had, indeed, been named after Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold. For instance, would Bishop Heward-Mills take kindly to the fact of him having been named after a globally acclaimed diplomat who also happened to have been gay in sexual orientation?

Or, in other words, did Daddy Heward-Mills name the future Bishop Dag after Dr. Dag Hammarskjold so “Sonny Dag” could grow up famous, “diplomatic” and gay?

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame