With barely a month to the kick off of the 26TH MTN Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2008, there is a rising fear of a potential upsurge in crime wave, sexual promiscuity and its concomitant HIV/AIDS infection in the country as a result of activities of the soccer tournament to be held in Ghana.
Speaking exclusively in an interview with the Gospel Advocate in Accra, the General Director of the Scripture Union (SU), Ghana, Mr. Jude Hama, called on the government and the Christian community to put in the necessary mechanisms to avert the threats and safeguard the youth from becoming victims of sex trade and post modern cultural influences as are likely occurrences during the tournament, which is scheduled to take place between January 20 and February 10, 2008.
Mr. Hama observed that, as the continent's biggest single most influential sporting event, the Ghana 2008 tournament undeniably held socio-economic benefits for the youth in particular and the nation in general, but contended this should not blind the leaders of the moral threats and challenges. He charged the Ministry of Sports in particular to create programs for discussion and response to the potential challenges.
“Ghana 2008 has benefits and opportunities for the youth who constitute greater portion of the country's total population. Construction and renovation of stadia at the various tournament centers and training parks in some institutions in the country coupled with the selling of souvenirs are great benefits for the youth, but there are also the moral challenges to be confronted with. With regards to the kinds and categories of people coming from different cultural environments it poses a great threat on our religious moral values,” he stated.
The Scripture Union General Director said the possible upsurge of prostitution leading to young people being drawn into sex trade is a major and critical issue which had already been a subject of advocacy. “We need to be alert; the news media, the Ministries of Education, Youth and Employment and Sports must be vigilant and work out proactive measures against the inflow of this and other postmodern and global cultural influence on the vulnerable youth. We must be wise, because do not want after Ghana 2008 to see a rapid increase in the HIV/AIDS infection on our youth,” he maintained.
He mentioned dress codes, musical contents and lyrics of songs as would be parading the nation's street corners during the tournament as some of the postmodern and global trends that the nation needed to guard against.
“Some of the people who would be coming from cold environments may want to dress in a way as to enjoy the sun and so may end up dressing partially naked,” he noted, adding that the trend could be an infringement on our religious and cultural integrity, and could contribute to moral degeneration in the country.
Mr. Hama therefore asked the church and government to be proactive in resolving the situation, before hand. He said government through the security agencies should sensor night clubs that have the potential of serving or stimulating sexual immorality and social misconduct, saying the economic and social benefits should not substitute the moral integrity of the country's future.
He challenged the Christian community to use every opportunity of the tournament to minister the gospel of salvation to the unsaved. He urged them to make friends and relate to as many of the visitors as possible so as to share the love of God with them.
“The Christian spin of the tournament is the opportunity it offers as a major evangelism avenue through such means as; the distribution of tracks, showing of Christian films on large screens during the marches. We should interact with the people in the 'trotro' [a general term for any public transportation vehicle other than a bus or taxi that is designed to carry many people], or the taxi and on every platform as may be convenient. As you talk about soccer you can end up with the gospel. Play Christian music while driving,” the youth evangelist pointed out.
The Scripture Union over the years has been in the forefront of Christian moral advocacy and discipline, among particularly the youth, based on the Holy Scriptures (the Bible). Through this sustained effort, most of the Christian leaders and other people in national leadership today trace their success to the grooming of SU.
They have been working tirelessly on printing special gospel tracts and devotional Bible reading guides for strategic sharing during the period of the tournament.