With God on Our Side

Reading the papers in Ghana throws interesting insights into the political and social processes of a country redefining itself as a real democracy. There is certainly freedom of expression and nothing seems to my eye to be too sacred to be raked over. In the Daily Graphic yesterday there was a tough article on the way that Ghanaian Christianity, whether in its orthodox or evangelical forms, is bleeding the people dry to feather the nests of priests in Armani suits and gold chains. Indeed the article pointed out that Ghana would be the holiest country in Christendom if you measured it in acts of worship rather than secular acts. If you quantified it by the latter, then the picture would be somewhat different!

I read this as we meandered through the traffic, leaving at 9-40 precisely as this is a window when we can do the journey to work in about a half hour. My column reading is interrupted by beggars banging on windows, the beep of the horn at some indiscretion on the part of a tro tro driver and sudden braking.

The business pages often point to the barriers to economic progress caused by sinning from Monday to Saturday – by this I mean nepotism, backhanders, sharp practices often concerning Government officials buying land cheaply and then selling to foreigners and land being sold several times over – and then recanting passionately on Sunday. There are further barriers which are not mentioned. Imagine going to business meetings and finding people being asked to pray before the meeting. Imagine receiving emails which begin or end with phrases invoking God’s beneficence and His love of you. Indeed, sometimes you wonder whether anyone believes he or she is responsible for anything! Only God is. However, He is never the culprit when things go drastically wrong! The whole business leaves one wondering whether many Ghanaians are too scared to expose their performance to critique. I have found in many settings that engendering critical self-examination of performance is akin to some kind of Spanish Inquisition in colleagues’ eyes, so unused are they to tough cross examination of the quality of outcomes. This attitude seems to stem from the Ghanaian national character where courtesies are far more important than substance. It is a shame when you meet it because the other aspect that dominates the psyche here is a very welcome warmth and desire for peace.

For the country to succeed in its endeavours, it needs to accept that God has His rightful place in the temples, synagogues and churches where He can set to work remodelling moral and spiritual standards while people go about their daily business, accepting absolute responsibility for the consequences of their acts.

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