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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Scientific Traditionalism Is The Way To Go

Scientific Traditionalism Is The Way To Go, Mayor Kwadwo Bonsu!!!

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

The decision by Mayor Kwadwo Bonsu, of Kumasi, to cause the prompt dredging of the Subin creek, in order to stop the periodic flooding of homes located near its banks, is a savvy step. But what makes his decision even more laudable is its generous accommodation of the beliefs of the chiefs and people of Ahonmasi, who hold Subin to be a sacred symbol of their destiny (See "KMA Sacrifices Sheep for Flood" Daily Guide 6/9/14).

In the recent past, the tendency of the Western-educated elite was to imperiously pooh-pooh this central and age-old institution of animism among our people. As a former regular poet of Anokyekrom of the Ghana National Cultural Center, I had the occasion to visit what is widely claimed to be the source of Subin, near the Suame roundabout and a local public elementary school, just a stone's throw from the small square-shaped house that purportedly marks the source of Subin.

Legend has it that there is a great snake or python that inhabits this small house with a tightly locked wooden door; and that periodically, the traditional priest of Subin visits the shrine with his attendants and acolytes, unlocks the door and performs rituals to appease/pacify the serpent, which also symbolizes the spirit of the river. I have also, in the past, been made aware of the fact that the Subin shrine is very significant to the Asantehene.

What drew me to this story, however, had to do with the enlightened response of Mayor Bonsu to the plight of the people of Ahonmaso, the name of whose township I had never heard before until my reading of this newsstory. The decision by Mayor Bonsu to liaise with the chiefs and people of Ahonmaso, in a bid to permanently stanching the periodic natural disaster caused by the river ought to lauded.

I was also fascinated by the Subin story because in 1979, if I remember accurately, two Ghana Airforce helicopters collided and conflagrated just about 50 meters from the Subin shrine. The two biologically unrelated pilots of the two helicopters were also reported to have been married to two sisters; and some even speculated that these pilots had rather unwisely presumed to play a cock-fighter's game just over the sacred, and one also presumed, the grayey pate, of Subin and thus their tragic ends.

You see, by and large, both Ghanaian Christians and Muslims have been known to have absolutely no qualms in offering prayers to God and Allah whenever there is any natural disaster, such as was recently reported of the Subin at Ahonmaso. Curiously, when it comes to the offering of traditional propitiatory rites in a similar situation, many a Western-educated Ghanaian citizen recoils with shame and embarrassment. It is this kind of psychological alienation, verging on inferiority complex, that has ensured that constructive, progressive and organic leadership among Western-educated elite would become inimical and even deleterious to our collective national development.

Almost every major cultural group in the world has found organic and constructive ways of transforming and healthily modernizing its old indigenous ways of harmoniously relating to the environment, except Africans. This is the key to our ability to rapidly and meaningfully advance the course of our civilization.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Board Member, The Nassau Review
June 9, 2014