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Opinions of Saturday, 9 October 2004

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

Prophets And The Ghanaian Elections

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong examines the problems prophets and other spiritual mediums pose to the impending Ghanaian presidential and parliamentary election

Prophets and other spiritualists have been the mainstay of Ghanaian politics since independence from colonial in 1957. But no where in the almost 50 years since the creation of Ghana have prophets have influence on politicians than today. While increase in prophets are due mainly to increase in stress and strain of the Ghanaian society over time, the influence of prophets on politics reflects how deep prophets have penetrated the Ghanaian society, informed by a culture rooted in deep superstition. The influence of prophets on politics also reveal how skeptically weak is the Ghanaian intelligentsias. It also shows a society which elites cannot extricate itself from the irrational and the gullible, and sometimes at the mercy of prophets, juju-marabou mediums and other spiritualists.

As the Ghanaian general elections increasingly closes in, mainstream newspapers are abuzzed with prophets either predicting this or that, or some politicians citing prophets, or opposition newspapers indicating how the ruling party, the National Patriotic Party (NPP), is importing prophets, juju-marabou mediums and spiritualists from other parts of West Africa to enhance their winning of the general elections. All these demonstrate the influence of the Ghanaian culture on politics. If politics and economic are inseparable, as they say, then politics and culture, too, are inseparable in Ghana, especially the influence of the spiritual aspects of the culture, negative or positive, on politics.

In the months and days leading to the general elections on December 7 this year the business of the prophets and other spiritualists are on the ascendancy more than ever. The prophets are not only ritualizing to help politicians win but interpreting events, even past ones, in prophetic terms. Newspapers, realizing how the public like such tantalizing tales of the spiritual and politics and how this sell newspapers, are giving the prophetic interpretations much coverage to the detriment of growth in rationality. The Accra-based Lens, said to be leaning towards the main opposition political party, the National Democratic Party (NDC), quoted a prophet, Yaw Atta Evans, from Obuasi Sudantwoa, who claim to know the killers of a prominent northern Ghanaian chief, Ya Na, Yakubu Andani II, who are believed to have used the Ya Na head for juju ritual for political expediency. "The Spirit of the assassinated Ya Na, the late Yakubu Andani II would not know peace until the high personalities in Ghana who masterminded his brutal killing own up in their own interest. If within a period of ONE MONTH from the publication of this ultimatum, they fail to own up and publicly confess their complicity in the brutal murder, they will not just be exposed but divine wrath will be visiting them and everybody will know about their involvement in that case."

The Lens, like other Ghanaian newspapers, despite its apparent partisanship should report such prophecies and politics in interpretative/commentative fashion to help the Ghanaian public think through the influence of prophecies on politics. The result of the Lens report reveals how the mixture of prophecies and politics blurs the ability of the already gullible electorate to think through serious national developments issues. It is, therefore, not surprising to read how the electioneering campaigns by almost all the political parties lack strong issues to drive home Ghana?s blossoming democracy and the development process.

Even serious economic issues are cast in prophetic terms to score political points. In some instances, there are partisan politics among even the prophets and other spiritualists, each prophesying different political parties programmes in spiritually negative or positive terms. Such tantalizing enterprise by the prophets and other spiritualists has even swayed leading newspapers that are expected to aid in rationalizing issues. The Accra-based The Ghanaian Chronicle, perhaps Ghana?s leading independent newspaper, reports that one "Mr. Moses Growther, a prophet, has stated that the former President, Flt. Lt. (rtd.) Jerry John Rawlings, was a man sent by God to punish us Ghanaians for our iniquities and disobedience to Him, hence the serious economic suffering visited on the nation. According to him, Ghanaians became indolent, after inheriting a curse from the leadership of the first President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah that any government who toed the line of his ideological principle would worsen the nation's economic situation."

Since Rawlings, who has been the subject of all kinds of prophecies in the Ghanaian political game ever since he ascended into the Ghanaian political scene in 1979 in a military coup detat, is the founder of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, the above prophecy cast his party as ?dark,? evil and disliked by God so much so that no matter what they do God has ordained them to fail and so should not be voted for. In the same vein the prophecy cast President Kuffour?s ruling National Patriotic Party as the party of God which can bring favourable economic development to Ghana, and, therefore, worth voting for in the impending general elections.

The problem with the mixture of the prophetic and politics is that not all the prophets are genuine, thus tarnishing the image of authentic prophets. But real or fake, Ghanaian politicians aren?t alone in their folly with the prophets. Ghana is awash in prophets, juju-marabou mediums (who work more behind the scene and do not public pronouncements) and other spiritualists these days, and the public is swallowing it up. The prophets bravery in venturing into the political emanate from the Ghanaian culture. From fortune tellers to juju-marabou mediums to spiritualist to polished prophets appearing at road corners, the prophets, exploiting the psychology of the Ghanaian culture, have effectively hoodwink politicians who are gullible, appear not to understand why they are in politics and confused.


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