Ghana Turns to Religion for Growth

Published on 18th September 2007

Before the coalition of the 56 ethnic groups that were forced by the British colonialist to form the Ghana nation-state, societies revolved around God-fearing values and respective cosmology.  From Okomfo Anokye (Asante) to Kwame Gyateh Ayirebe Gyan (Effutu) to Na Gbewa (Dagomba), it was God-fearing values that enhanced their faith, fired by the supernatural and sense of the sacred. This created their various nations and laid the foundation for prosperity.

It was God-fearing values that moved Okomfo Anokye and his associates, in the face of disparaging families, clans, tribes, ethnic groups and other hostile elements to create the Asante Empire. From Okomfo Anokye’s time to the present, the issue of God-fearing leaders has become central to progress. It is reciprocal – the leadership demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt its God-fearing values, drawn from their societies’ spirituality, and the citizenry reciprocates in kind through trust, a key value in fertilizing progress.

God-fearing instincts inspired Ghana’s Founding Fathers – Dr J.B. Danquah, Kwame Nkrumah, J. Tsiboe, Paa Grant, Akuffo Addo, William Ofori Atta, Ako Agyei, Dr Aggrey, George Ferguson, John Mensah Sarbah, King Ghartey IV of Winneba, Otumfuo Osei Agyeman Prempeh I and Obetsebi Lamptey – in the face of oddities to confront Ghana’s freedom challenges in the 1940s to 1950s. Their success, despite the eccentricities they faced, was from the God-fearing ideals they drew simultaneously from Ghanaian traditional cosmology and Judeo-Christian values, to create modern Ghana.

Now, 50 years after freedom from colonial rule, the God-fearing part of Ghanaian leaders isn’t as strong as in the era of Okomfo Anokye and his associates. Corruption is rife, lying is a cool thing, money dominates character, communalism has given way to excessive individualism, empathy is turned upside down and the Pull Him Down syndrome is a growing cancer. Ghanaian humanism, the key nourisher of the society, is wobbly, and the cosmological balances that sustain the society imbalanced. But not all Ghanaians are blind to these disturbing developments – given some hope for the future.

That’s why Mrs. Gifty Affenyi-Dadzie, journalist, businesswoman and God-centred member of the Council of State reminds Ghanaians: “Africa needs leaders with impeccable integrity and God fearing attitudes to ensure a restoration of the continent…Africa needs leaders who would not subdue to any influence even in crucial times but would apply measures that conform to biblical principles of selflessness, righteousness, honesty, discipline and obeying Godly counselors.” It was during her office as president of the Ghana Journalists Association that she rallied the Accra establishment to build the famous Accra International Press Centre.

Her observation comes in a climate of politicians of all spectrums talking in the name of God. “I believe in God,” thundered Nana Akuffo Addo, leading presidential candidate of the ruling National Patriotic Party for the impending December party congress. Perhaps he said it not because of political expediency, but what Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie has sensed – a nation which has veered off from its core cultural spiritual ethos, giving rise to socio-economic and spiritual distress.

The issue, however, isn’t just believing in God, but how believing in God translates into the larger progress of Ghana. So, what should Ghanaian leadership do? Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie answers that restoration of God-centred leadership will help nurture the needed vision for progress. African leaders with their autocratic “Big Man” syndrome have a serious ego problem, and this is a sign of Godlessness.

While Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie uses Judeo-Christian values to drum home her Good-fearing leadership homily, Ghanaian cosmology has to be factored in for authentic balance. After all the God-fearing values of the Founding Fathers and Mothers was informed by their traditional cosmology, too. It is from such mixture of traditional Ghanaian cosmology and the Judeo-Christian ideals that Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie’s God-fearing leaders will come – the two Ghanaian spiritual dualities giving birth to God-fearing leaders who draw their strengths from the two sacred dualities.

Part of the reason for the decline in God-fearing leaders is the increasing influence of Malams, marabouts, juju mediums, native medicine mediums, Voodoo spiritualists, Shamans, prophets and other spiritualists masquerading as “Men of God” who teleguide the leadership with their irrational practices. Ghanaian experienced this during the long-running military juntas, which had immense moral and disciplinary flaws, and the one-party regimes. The ensuing confusion further plunged Ghana into crisis.

Dr. Fatima Alabo, programme coordinator of the Salt Institute, says that “God has endowed us with many resources, but due to inadequately equipped leaders, our people continue to be hewers of wood and drawers of germ infected water.” In a way, leadership is everything but it depends on its level of sophistication, including Godliness.

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