Sometime last week, I posted the following on a couple of platforms, and copied also to some individual family members and friends:
“Good morning all. I have set myself the following 3 exam questions:
- Rise of religious bigotry in Ghana. Fact or fiction.
- Renascent Culture of Silence. Reality or Perception?
- Emergence of Harsh Language to Disagree with Leadership in Society. Justified or Unjustified.”
Even the most aloof Ghanaian citizens today would not have to search far to discover the context that drove me to this self-examination: Our country is beginning to show all the signs of failing. The social and traditional media and private conversations are full of nothing else.
Dr Sam Eson Jonah has become the unwitting and unlikely hero to many of us with his great epochal speech to the Rotary Club last month, followed by the Christian leadership ganging up against a little Muslim girl fulfilling her religious obligation (Ramadan) in a so-called Christian Senior High School aka Wegehe, and then young Kevin Ekow Baidoo Taylor’s impassioned verbal commentary on their Reverends position. Many other headliners are there to pick from, but for me, these three will suffice for my piece today.
I must state my own one-liners as answers to the exam questions:
- I agree 100% with Dr Jonah.
- I disagree 100% with the Christian prelates and by God, did I not enjoy Kevin Taylor’s bold and justified outrage?
- I loved it and agree with him 100%.
There’s a malevolent wind blowing across our land and what damage it will inflict when it reaches hurricane strength, I can only pray and hope that it does not get to that.
Below is another post I shared around the same time of the exam questions titled “Naming and Shaming”:
“Let us name and shame! When Nana Addo came up with this so-called national cathedral as a priority of priorities with heavy doses of sectarian Christian proselytising, I did a number of commentaries pointing out the dangers ahead. Christian leaders trooped to support him. Emboldened by his “after all we have more Christians in Ghana” rhetoric [to justify this wasteful and divisive venture], for the first time, we are witnessing battle lines being drawn between Christians and the rest of us. I am afraid, Nana Addo has set off a whirlwind only he can stop…Oh yes and I have been married [for almost 40 years] to a Christian and a Methodist at that, and never any religious disagreements between us… Sheikh Armiyao is one of the most Liberal and Moderate Muslims in Ghana and for him to have spoken so publicly on national TV [TV3], means that some very raw nerves have been touched… In fact, I can assure that dark clouds are gathering.”
In response, some samples I have received below:
1.“Is Bawumia not a Muslim? How come he hasn’t spoken
How come the minister for education hasn’t spoken to support GES?!!!”
2.“The chickens have come home.To roost or not,now lies in the bosom of the National Chief Imam who is at the twilight of his earthly sojourn going by normal logic. My fear and worry are that if we ever get a successor who thinks like the younger crop of leaders, the future will be interesting.”
3.“ Very concerned about this. I think people should stop escalating the situation.Don’t know if you or properly John [Mahama] can reach out to the Chief Imam, Catholic Bishops and Christian Council to ask that they stop members/followers from making inflammatory comments. Then ask Asantehene and NADAA to help the leaders of the Christian and Muslim Communities resolve this quietly.”
In fairness to my conscience, I don’t think they need any prodding from a lesser mortal like me. Each according to his conscience and predilections, I am sure will act in a needful way. I have said my say in many commentaries on the subject, pointing out Nana Addo’s reckless Christian proselytising and the dangers it posed to the stability of our country, and so soon, the chicken, or in this case, vultures, are coming home to roost.But let us be clear, the State and Government should never be involved in promoting any religion!Religion is private. Our constitution is not perfect, but it gives us enough guidelines to feel our way through the pitfalls of nationhood, hence, not onlydoes it guaranteethe freedom of worship,but alsotheseparation of state and religion. All of a sudden “Wethe majority70%”isbeing dredged out to describe the Christian community in Ghana, and marginalize other faiths and in the process upturning the delicate balance that has held our national fabric together since colonial times.
I attended Navrongo School (Navasco)up North. My headmaster wasMr Robin Crawford who becamean Anglican Deacon, later he was ordained a full Ministerand a few times took us through bible knowledge, a subject on our curriculum at that time, but our real bible knowledge master was another Scotsman, the Rev. Fr. Duncanwho also taught us French. We called him “Mon Pere”. Navasco had a chapel, mosque and we performed our religious faiths without let or hindrance. We fasted, prayed, attended church services and held Moslem prayers regularly. Even I was a dedicated worshipper! Those were great days. I remember how I would eagerly look forward to the services to end so I could hook up with my friends. Christian or Moslem never came up. They were my friends and that was all. I remember Father Duncan played piano during assembly and church services. With hindsight, I think he had a rather ponderous style, but, well, I knew no better so I enjoyed it. Those are the kinds of benign experiences that youngsters should be allowed to grow up in, not the quagmire of adult entrenched short-sightedness and hypocrisy.
My exposure to such experiences enriched my life. I grew up being able to appreciateand enjoy the many cultural heritage products, like music, bequeathed to humankind through Christian civilization. Today I can enjoy oratoriosby Bach, Handel and masses by Beethoven, Mozart, etc and to cap it all I have been married to a lovely Christian (Methodist) lady for almost 40 years enjoying a very peaceful and blessed home. Many Ghanaians can give similar testimonies. So why the creepingreligioustensions now?Why? I can tell you: Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.
The day he announced that he was putting up a “national” cathedral to thank his God in fulfilment of a pledge he made to his God that if and when he won the 2016 elections he would put up such an edifice to glorify that God, he lit the fuse that would surely burn towards the sectarianism that is beginning to manifest now. It was so arrogant and provocative. Elections do not accord any “winner” such a mandate! I have heard and read about calls on our religious leaders and stakeholders to engage in “behind the scenes” consultations to resolve matters arising “amicably”. If there ever was a time requiring the airing of dirty linen in public, it is NOW! Let us do it in the full glare of God’s own sunlight.
And to think that on the occasion of the Eid-ul-Fitr, falling tomorrow Thursday, all sorts of hypocritical messages would be flying about wishing our “Moslem brothers and sisters Barka da Sallah”! Ba, humbug!
For the avoidance of doubt, Christian Council, Methodist Church of Ghana leadership and the Catholic Bishops Conference, you are wrong! The Ghana Education Service (GES), is the one state institution responsible for the management of our educational system. Period!