The word “God” is always on the lips of some politicians whenever they face acute challenges, are short of words or reach the limit of their comprehension. God’s name reels a powerful sense of stagecraft by the politicians, more so as the 2008 general elections near.
The word can mean different things at different places at different times, and though some of its usage may be confusing, you may have to be a Ghanaian to grasp it. As all the politicians come from cosmology-driven ethnic groups that are heavily God-centred, the education and social standing of the politician does not matter in the use of the word in the larger development process. Still, some of the politicians may use God in the “born-again” sense. Pretty much of this takes its tone from traditional Ghanaian cosmology that sees God battling major evil personified in fearlessly diabolical figures in a Ghana mired in disturbing poverty and other “drawbacks” which some Ghanaians think wrongly, are punishment from God.
From Ghana’s President John Kufour who told technicians at the Akosombo Dam that God will bring rain to restore the falling water level of the dam, to Ghana's Vice President, Aliu Mahama, who asked his supporters in Tamale to “pray for him and not look down on any of the Presidential aspirants” of the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) and said, "It is God who chooses a leader and most often, those that people do not regard are those he appoints," God is a serious business in Ghanaian politics as the 2008 general elections close in.
The politicians business with God can come in all manner of schemes, most times against rational devices. Apart from praying and fasting, some Ghanaian politicians can go the extra mile by employing the services of Malams, spiritualists, juju priests, marabou mediums, Shamans and “Men of God” to “read” God to know their political standing in a democratic dispensation that is becoming increasingly fierce and competitive. On the flip side, Ghanaians are yet to know whether the same politicians will go the extra mile to utilize services of the spiritual mediums and the “Men of God” to “read” God to know God’s standing on their material well-being – poverty, energy, diseases, ignorance, water, food, education and money troubles.
Circling in the head of Ghanaians are the good God and the bad Satan. Some politicians exploit Satan for misfortunes, especially if they fail to deliver their developmental pledges. Primate S.K. Adofo, Spiritual Head of Ghana’s Brotherhood Church, sees God not only as a giver but also argues that blaming Satan, or evil forces for the stifling progress is not only wrong, but also unacceptable. "Most of such evils and misfortunes are created by people themselves and not necessarily by the devil as always alleged,” he says. All these arguments emanate from Ghanaian cosmology enhanced by the Judeo-Christian tradition.
From the 56 ethnic groups that form the Ghana nation-state, the name God is a big cosmological issue and some politicians play into this in the face of developmental challenges. Imagine President Kufour feverishly seeking God’s help and inspiring Akosombo Dam technicians, and by extension Ghanaians, who are worried about their worsening energy situation, that God will bring rain to fill the dam. Sometimes, this God-and-politics game is played with traditional politicians such as the Paramount Chiefs and Queen mothers – for all sorts of reasons. To learn how politics and God blur in both traditional and modern Ghana is to get engaged in a complicated struggle toward God in a Ghana that is at the same time unusually religious and extraordinarily devoted to politics of all kinds.
In a world that is increasingly becoming rational - with its technological feats, advancing sciences, booming intelligence and hybridization of human endeavours – excessive use of the word “God” not only blurs reasoning (God’s ultimate gift to humankind) but also complicates the situation of a majority of Ghanaians who are praying daily, as the highly filled churches and mosques show, to escape poverty, some caused by the very politicians who appear not to understand their situations. In this sense, the excessive use of the word “God” in the face of poverty (most Ghanaians live on $2.00 a day), diseases, ignorance and backwardness is primitive, frightening and atavistic.
It is difficult to comprehend matters in a culture where everything is interpreted from God’s angle. The Sierra Leone would say “na God makam” – it is God’s design - even in the face of dreadful poverty, massive corruption, crumbling infrastructure, brutal civil war with its rape, amputations, arsons and looting. That makes God a “primitive, frightening and atavistic” being that should probably be expelled from enlightened Ghanaian discourse-but that cannot be done in Ghana, where God’s name has been tossed around irresponsibly in contrast to not only Ghanaian cosmology.
By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong
Expo Times Independent Sierra Leone
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