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Opinions of Sunday, 18 January 2009

Columnist: Aka-eri, Francis Aka-ebila

The Shackles Of Religion In Ghana

In Ghana, Sundays are the days of church bells, while Fridays are the days of megaphone calls to high-noon prayers, but all in fervent love of religion. And while Ghanaians are so obsessed with religion, most have failed to take a hard look at the issue of religion and how it relates to their fast fading African civilization.

We have been told and purportedly misled by a foreign people, who knew little about the civilization of our ancestors, that everything African is bad. Yet, that is the very creed to which most Africans pledge their allegiance today in every nook and cranny of our black continent.

When Islam came to Africa, it came by way of a sword and the Quran. When Christianity came; it came with the Bible and a gun. But both came to hold us down either as slaves or as subjects of another man’s ways. Instead of being the masters of our own African ways and civilization, we have become followers of foreign cultures. And that clearly explains the core reasons why - we have mostly become masters of the art of spending wealth and not of its creation.

In nearly every school and open space, there is either a church or a mosque in Ghana. The precious time we spend in prayer, has seemingly outgrown the time - we spend working to create wealth and improve our own lives. Believing in divine providence, we fast and pray with the hope that someday the skies would open-up the doors of heaven and all would be well with us. Unfortunately, the easy days of falling manner from the skies and flowing water from the rocks are over.

If you think I am just trying to steer up trouble, or even create division, think about this; did the early Christians immigrants to Ghana provide your people and tribe or clan with the name of God? My Guresi ancestors called God “Na’ayinne” long before Westerners and Arabs walked the shores and deserts of Africa, which in essence remained unchanged to this day across Bolgatanga.

In other words, did the name of God change in your spoken language? Did Jesus really ask them to change or cancel your African name in baptism? Why then, did they ask you to accept a foreign name instead of your African name to be a Christian? Couldn’t they have baptized you without changing your African name? What is wrong with African names anyway? In a nutshell, your open-minded answers to these simple, but straight forward questions would lead you to make better choices in your own life and quest for God in Ghana.

In fact, we cannot compete in this global village without a fair share of what comes from within us. Neither can we talk about a brighter future for Ghana, unless we humbly return to our roots to build upon our African heritage as a nation. For since we certainly cannot give what we simply do not have, it is imperative to come home to the fact that, though cultural invasion has retrogressively taken us back a century, picking-up from where we left off, would undoubtedly be our best bet for recovery and sustainable growth.

Henceforth, when we go to church or the mosque, let us faithfully worship in an African fashion. After all, the African was equally blessed by God in his creation. What’s more, let us even scale back from foreign names, which crown us as nothing else, but slaves and servants and let’s embrace our indigenous African names with pride in the practice of our faith. For if a people do not take pride in who they are by virtue of God’s creation, and what God has given them, how can they claim to be true worshipers of this same God they uniquely despised?

Written by: Francis Aka-ebila Aka-eri