African News

Ghana: Demons, Values and National Development

13 November 2005 at 02:18 | 374 views

By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

As Ghana’s emerging renaissance increasingly spreads country-wide, one of the key areas which is seen as entangling the progress of the country - superstition- which emanates from the culture - is responding to the emerging changes. The Ghana News Agency (GNA), one of the key media outlets in the forefront of Ghana’s emerging renaissance and which is helping to x-ray inhibitions from within the culture for refinement, reports the observations by Primate S.K. Adofo, Spiritual Head of the Brotherhood Church, describing not only as wrong, "but also unacceptable, the tendency for people to always blame all evil deeds and misfortunes that come their way on satan or the devil" and that "most of such evils and misfortunes, are created by people themselves and not necessarily by the devil as always alleged."

The relevance of Primate Adofo’s statement, which cut across religious lines, in Ghana’s progress, is that many a Ghanaian (it doesn’t matter their level of education) because of the highly superstitious nature of their culture, blame unseen forces such as witchcraft, demons or evil spirits or juju-marabou forces for their misfortunes and other problems inhibiting their progress. And the spiritual churches, which emanated both from the Ghanaian culture and the colonially-imposed religions, are known to prey and feed on the Ghanaian culture of superstition by driving the mostly gullible people to believe that all their problems are caused by demons or evil spirits or witchcraft or someone in their family employing juju-marabou or spiritual mediums to effect their problems thereby not holding themselves responsible for their problems.

Still, such highly irrational beliefs and their implications emanating from within Ghana’s culture and fertilized heavily by some of the wrong-headed spiritual churches have come about because average Ghanaians think more with the superstitious or magical or mythopoeic part of their brains and less with the scientific/objective part of their brains because of the deep-seated superstitious culture, and transmit such traits of their brains from one generation to another. Anthropologists call the transmission of such mentality from one generation to another memes - a situation, like genetics and genes, where cultural traits, beliefs and other values are transmitted from generation to generation no matter where the individual or the group from the culture go or live. Most Ghanaians in Toronto, where they are replicating Ghanaian spiritual churches, juju-marabou mediums, and other African traditional spiritual practices, still talk about witchcraft and attribute their problems to unseen evil forces, compared with other Canadians who are freed from such myths, when discussing their problems. An indication of memes.

As Ghanaian elites attempt to think holistically, influenced by their emerging renaissance, Primate Adofo, talking from within the spirituial churches’ culture, history and experiences and their impact on Ghana’s progress, reveals the new thinking of putting all problems on human agency, that’s the individual being, and not any unseen evil forces wheeling Ghanaians around. The GNA, the new face of progressive Africa’s news agency, quoted Primate Adofo as saying the practice of blaming evil forces for Ghanaians’ problems "needed to be placed at the doorsteps of the individuals and not the devil as often being done, just because Satan is a spirit and not visible nor tangible, most people feel comfortable shifting all evil deeds onto it."

Primate Adofo’s demons-and-Ghanaians-problems observation is a throwback to Europe’s pre-enlightenment era where many European troubles were blamed on demons or evil spirits and not human agency. As is emerging in Ghana now, in Europe during the 18th century various problems and crimes and erroneous thinking were either blamed on evil spirits or done in the name of religion or culture. As Richard Hooker, of Washington State University, USA explains in "The European Enlightenment" (1999), to enlighten the European development process path, bold and unwavering thinkers such as René Descartes, Cesare Beccaria, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau "concern was focused on reforming individual human beings and on outdated human institutions and belief systems," "the knowledge of the natural world and the human world has nothing to do whatsoever with religion and should be approached completely free from religious ideas or convictions," and "an unwavering doubt in the perfectibility of human beings, a fierce desire to dispel erroneous systems of thought (such as religion)."

For his stature, for his spiritual potency and influence, for his long-running spiritual midwifery, as head of one of the largest national/regional indigenous spiritual churches in West Africa, Primate Adofo’s demons-and-progress observations reveal emerging counter-currents for change within the spiritual churches, some of which are known to help criminals, influence corruption, cause moral outrage and mental anguish, aid coup plotters and cause family crises, thus helping stifle Ghana’s progress.

Primate Adofo’s statement that "the devil and witches, most often suffer the consequencies of evil deeds when in actual fact the root cause of such a mishap is the human being himself" not only challenges Ghanaian cultural reformers to take on the inhibitions within the culture but also Ghana’s religious leaders across the religious spectrum, who have massive power over the minds and morals of the largely religious, superstitious and gullible citizenry, to re-think, objectively and holistically, their interpretations of demons and Ghana’s progress. More welcoming in Ghana’s enlightenment bid in her progress is Primate Adofo’s view that while evil spirits do exist, the so-called largely evil occurences "are man-made and self-created," and the Ghanaian "must accept the guilt instead of pushing it onto the satan."

As we see in Primate Adofo, a country progresses by massively lessening the incidence of demons in its thinking and development process, and rather concentrates massively on prayers back up with determination, steadfastness, honesty, hardwork, dedication, and other moral virtues in its development process. The foundation of the European progress came in this way, directed by her bold and unwavering thinkers. In Primate Adofo Ghana is attempting to just do that today.

Photo: A church service in Accra, Ghana.

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