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Opinions of Friday, 14 September 2007

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie and God-fearing leaders

Before the coalition of the 56 ethnic groups that were forced by the British colonialist to form the Ghana nation-state, their societies was formed and ruled around God-fearing values or the sacred or God-fearing people or around their 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.

Though most Ghanaians have not thought deeply about this in national development terms, 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, and 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.

In the same vein, 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 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 aren’t as strong as during the era of Okomfo Anokye and his associates – their progress, which is expected to be driven by God-fearing principles, wheeling in mid-air, waiting to be restored – corruption is rife, lying is a cool thing, hatred a disease, money dominates character, communalism has given way to excessive individualism, empathy is turned upside down, Pull Him Down is a growing cancer, Ghanaian humanism, the key nourisher of the society, 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 Mrs. Gifty Affenyi-Dadzie, journalist, can-do figure, businesswoman, God-centred, public spirited, and Member of the Council of State, reminding Ghanaians that “African needs leaders with impeccable integrity and God fearing attitudes to ensure a restoration of the continent…African 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.” Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie may reflect what her vision of a God-fearing leader might be: I was told by journalists in Accra that 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, and I was impressed when I conducted a workshop there.

Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie’s observation comes in a climate of politicians of all spectrums talking in the name of God – that’s they are God-fearing in their deliberations. “I believe in God,” thundered Nana Akuffo Addo, leading presidential candidate of the ruling National Patriotic Party for the impending December party congress, while tapping into traditional cosmology for political pragmatism. Perhaps Nana Akuffo Addo might have said that not necessarily because of political expediency but what Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie have sensed – a nation which leadership have veered from its core cultural spiritual ethos, and lack of which have brought socio-economic and spiritual distress – an unbalanced situation that need to be reinstated. But the issue isn’t just believing in God, the issue is how believing in God translates into fearing God and how this too crystallize into the practical nitty-gritty of leading a God-fearing life for the larger progress of Ghana – a nation which leaders have strong spiritual foundation as a bulwark for progress as Okomfo Anokye and his associates laid out.

So what should Ghanaian leadership do? Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie answers that through restoration of God-centred leadership which will help nurture the needed humility and visions needed for progress – for various cultural reasons, Ghanaian/African leaders with their autocratic “Big Man” syndrome have serious ego problem, and this is a sign of Godlessness. But while Mrs. Affenyi-Dadzie use of Judeo-Christian values to drum home her Good-fearing leadership homily is understandable – she was speaking at the Accra-based Salt Institute, a Christian-oriented leadership training centre, as an all Ghanaian issue, 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 from – the two Ghanaian spiritual dualities giving birth to God-fearing leaders who draw their strengths from the two sacred dualities.

On the flip side, part of the reasons for the decline in God-fearing leaders may not be because of absence of Ghanaian cosmology or Judeo-Christian values, but remarkably the increasingly disturbing influence of Malams, marabouts, juju mediums, native medicine mediums, Voodoo spiritualists, Shamans, prophets and other spiritualists masquerading as “Men of God” who teleguide the Ghanaian leadership with their irrational practices most of which go contrary to Ghanaian traditional cosmology and the Judeo-Christian values and are partly responsible for the spiritual dearth of the Ghanaian leadership. Ghanaian experienced this more disturbingly during the long-running military juntas, which had immense moral and disciplinary flaws, and the one-party regimes. A good part of Gen. Kutu Acheampong’s almost six-year military junta was caught dangerously between Ghanaian cosmology and Judeo-Christian values and juju-marabout mediums and other spiritualists, and in the ensuing confusion further plunged Ghana into crisis.

It may be part of such complicated spiritual atmosphere that has produced not only confused leaders who do not draw their spiritual strengths from Ghanaian cosmology and the Judeo-Christian values that Dr. Fatima Alabo, programme coordinator of the Salt Institute, said 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.” A good one there – in the development game you need solid God-fearing leaders and everything shall be given unto you. In a way, leadership is everything but it depends on its level of sophistication including Godliness. Windows Live Hotmail gives you the control you need to help you keep your e-mail private, safe and secure.

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