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Opinions of Sunday, 7 August 2016

Columnist: Asare, Kwame Ohene

We may be battling non-existent demons

Kwame Ohene Asare

“ If God inspires the rulers of today and the future with the proud vision of true independence which Nkrumah saw as it were from a distance; if citizens of Ghana are inspired to work endlessly for the good of the nation – Ghana’s destiny is safe. Let that be our prayer and our sincere commitment. ”Reverend Peter Barker (British Minister of the Presby Church)

Yesterday, I woke up yet again, to another major attempt at the ever growing phenomenon of transcendental manipulation of the minds of the people of Ghana.
A Pastor Mensah Kobi was reported as advising the NPP’s flagbearer to undergo purging as he would otherwise not win the next Presidential election. He cited reasons for the need for purging; amongst which was the purported role of the UP tradition in the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. The same Prophet is reported to have advised that the jailing of the Montie 3 was spiritually wrong. Oh dear! We can now confidently predict what the demons will reveal to him as to who to vote for in December 2016.
Before I move to discuss the subject more generally, can I just rhetorically pose the following questions: -
a) Did God want Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to rule Ghana for the rest of his Life?
b) Was God enjoying the detention of ambitious Ghanaians without recourse to Law or any form of trial?
c) Really? God actually revealed that the UP tradition was involved in the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah?
d) Then again has God deliberately imposed on Ghana, Mahama’s morally bankrupt and incompetent team of iniquity workers merely because the NPP and/or their Flagbearer have not purged themselves?
e) If God is also really queuing up to sign the petition for the release of the Muntie 3 then shouldn’t Ghanaians be electing/appointing only prophets as Presidents and Judges? Why do we bother? Because nothing will make sense to the carnal mind, however educated?
In his book Operation Cold Chop, Reverend Peter Barker, a British minister of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana who lived in Ghana throughout the Nkrumah years, reports that Kotoka, Ankrah, Oto and Harlley were the main masterminds behind Nkrumah’s overthrow. He further reports that he was overthrown because the majority of Ghanaians had begun to be afraid of arbitrary arrest, tired of the Marxist rhetoric and eager for a new beginning.
It is rather revealing as to how he ends the forward to his book: “ If God inspires the rulers of today and the future with the proud vision of true independence which Nkrumah saw as it were from a distance; if citizens of Ghana are inspired to work endlessly for a the good of the nation – Ghana’s destiny is safe. Let that be our prayer and our sincere commitment.”
It is thus not surprising that Reverend Professor Asante of the Peace Council of Ghana recently felt compelled to express profound concerns about Ghanaian spirituality and reported to have said in an interview as follows: “There are Ghanaians who are so obsessed with spirituality that they see demons in the money they handle, in the food they eat; in their marriages; and their children. According to him, it has become so absurd that people go to religious leaders for counselling and expect to be told of demons and spiritual attacks.”

It is quite a transcendental misfortune that Pastor Kobi should seek to pontificate as he did and indeed predicate it on untruths. God cannot be that inaccurate nor would he want to lie? Besides he has to be careful uttering such statements in public because it is clearly libellous!
Part of the reason for our underachievement as a Nation has arisen from the predominant Ghanaian mind-set that every difficulty has a spiritual cause. In a large measure, psychologically, mankind finds it easier to accept that one’s life is plagued by unseen spiritual forces than to look to oneself for a reasoned resolution of whatever challenges one may be facing. It has been the Achilles heel of Africans since missionary times when our rulers were prepared to give away our precious resources for the Bible. Today a new ‘exploiter’ has been bred from within, exploiting Ghanaian gullibility for spiritual explanations to perfectly rational occurrences.
The fear of the unknown, particularly death, disease, tragedy and suffering, is the cause of so much panic and anxiety in life, often necessitating for many, especially in Africa, the need to seek spiritual counsel and other. Obviously, in less developed countries, an environment where technology and medical science have been of limited benevolence, reliance on religiosity and spirituality are more exaggerated. This may however be just one school of thought since the most technologically advanced country in the world, namely, the United States of America, is quite a conspicuous exception. Americans are known to be one of the most religious people in the world.

Whilst no one can belittle the emotional and overwhelming impact of man’s mortality and other uncertainties, Africans do not seem to have gotten right, the balance that ought to be struck between science and religion.

People in the advanced world have certainly not abandoned the natural human instinct to seek answers beyond the physical however, the balance just seems right. In the U.K., which is fast becoming a secular society with her rapidly dwindling figures for church attendance in predominantly white churches, people still search for answers from very unreliable sources such as Astrology, self-professed psychics and such likes. I was personally intrigued by the performance of a self-professed magician in the just gone ‘Britain has got talent’ on British television. The magician has such an eerie ability to read minds and even seemed to alter and transform physical things. It is clear in my mind that such a magician can easily pass for a pastor with a massive bank balance if he practised his craft in the motherland!

In the past, deaths caused by underlying illnesses such as unmanaged sickle cell, hypertension and diabetes had been interpreted by Africans as brought on by witchcraft until continued scientific exploration other than spiritual invocation of any sort has brought these diseases under tremendous control. They are no longer as fatal as they were in the past. Recent scientific discovery of the drug Prep, which is able in some 90% of cases, to prevent the develop of HIV into AIDS and/or the transmission of the drug via sexual intercourse after so many Spiritualists have told a variety of lies about their ability to cure the illness makes you wonder whether one should bother about demons at all.

It is interesting to note that in the eyes of notable psychiatrists in the more advanced parts of the world, an overwhelming belief in spirituality may be treated as symptomatic of a mental health condition, although considerable attention has to be paid to the cultural background of the subject.

It is curious that men vested with political power, often with some of the best exposure and education, have frequent recourse to spirituality, when finding the causes of bad fortune. Oko Vanderpuye, one of the ruling government’s thinkers and currently the Accra Mayor, recently warned that he would be seeking spiritual assistance in dealing with the fires in or around Vienna City in Accra. The Jury is still out as to whether any such cause was identified or whether any spiritual terrorist has accepted responsibility for it.

In the not too distant past, government spokespersons were blaming unseen dwarfs for the inability of the Cedi to hold her own.

President Mills’ visit to TB Joshua’s synagogue to give thanks to the Lord for his electoral success in 2008 really epitomised the humility of the man but for any alert electorate, that should have raised alarm bells. He even gave testimony in the church and to the world at large as to how the pastor had predicted that he would win elections in three rounds and it all came to pass. If indeed the eminent professor of Law had an unflinching belief in the powers of the Man of God, then it would be right to assume that Ghana was at some point in time, indirectly ruled by unknown pastors and other rulers and principalities. Some of whom may have been in very dark places. Ghana, therefore, must have been left between a black place and indeed a very dark place. It suggests why the late President may even have continued in his Job, in spite of what in the months before his demise, was clearly discernible ill-health. He either was advised by his own folks to stay on regardless or backed and encouraged by possible prophesies about his recovery. It is indeed remarkable that his death however happened on the Spiritual Master’s blindside.

Entirely in jest, can I just say that President Mahama’s constant references to being ordained of God may well have come from a possible prediction that may have been pronounced over him by a spiritualist. It is curious that he has never professed to being ordained by God to emancipate Ghana from its economic predicament nor to extirpate ‘Dumsor’. However, anytime he has prophesied on ‘Dumsor’ it has failed woefully as it has always been forged. It is quipped that he may simply have gotten the end date to ‘dumsor’ wrong! It may come to pass but certainly not under his watch.

TB Joshua’s recent forays into predicting international developments and even recommending public policies may be impressive and it is not part of my purpose to question it in any remote sense but it is as good as ‘illegal’ for any elected President of the Republic of Ghana to be running our beloved country on the advice of any prophet of God and to even openly go forth to make a public enunciation of it.

Sadly, a few months back we were astounded by the prediction of a possible terrorist attack on either Ghana or Nigeria. TB Joshua prophesied! All this also followed umpteen prophesies from umpteen prophets, about the possible outcome of elections in Ghana and other African countries, some of whom prophesy differently about the same issues. Curiously, like the Judges in the case of Bush V Gore, the prophets appeared to be predictable as to what it is believed God may have advised them about. They appeared to prophesy in accordance with their political beliefs. The absence of a common message from our prophets throws doubt about the whole phenomenon and/or confirms the undoubted work of charlatans.

Curiously, prophecies either come true or are professed to have been averted by God and it has therefore become impossible to test the validity of prophesies. TB Joshua’s prophesy in 2011 regarding the possible breakup of Europe is also rather poignant. One wonders how many of his prophesies have yet to be fulfilled.

Ghanaians will pay prophets for prophecies for revelations on a Court case but will ask his conducting lawyer for reduced fees. Our sense of charity can thus be quite misplaced. His Lawyer has a duty to advise him/her of the merits and he is not under any duty to guarantee an outcome but his negligence in the course of the conduct of his work is actionable or subject to a suit in Court. The pastor’s prediction is not entirely dissimilar but as against the Lawyer, you have no avenue for complaining against any unfulfilled prophecies. Now they appear to be getting away of breach of confidentiality and even defamation.

Africans therefore need to rise against this spate of prophecies beginning to crowd our public discourse. It is becoming more of a detriment or a scourge, rather than a blessing. A professionally managed prophecy on a Nation’s security relating to the modern day terrorist should not under any circumstances, have been publicly aired. Rather it should have been communicated privately to the authorities to act on, with some details on where and how the prophecy may come true. That is how psychics in the advanced world operate. In point of fact, they don’t just predict willy nilly, but they actually assist in tracing villains. They are usually not seeking the big Glory and the money that African Pastors and spiritualists are seeking.

The reality however, is that the jury may yet still be out, as to whether spiritual power is real, backed up by science or a pure phantom. Until then it really has to be properly managed. Europeans may appear to rely more on themselves in dealing with problems than relying on the spiritual. It leaves very little room for blaming your neighbour, friend or innocent blood relations for affecting your fortunes by some remote and invisible powers.

Let us as a people, rely more on what we have control over as against that over which we clearly don’t have control. Proverbs 28:1: "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."