Intrinsic in the psyche of the typical Ghanaian at all levels of existence is the dope of religious superstition which neither God nor man could ever expurgate. We can call this our tradition or custom or culture, but this religious dope exists within the very fiber of the typical Ghanaian no matter where he is found in the world: In the apogee of his education, in his acme of political leadership, or in the apotheosis of his experience. And if we classify religious superstition as being coextensive with gullibility or vulnerability or stupidity, then all Ghanaians qualify to be in this unenviable set.
Remember that our own past President, Professor Atta Mills of blessed memory found it expedient to make T. B. Joshua, a man far younger and less educated and experienced than him, his spiritual father to whom he frequently traveled for “fortification”. His foundational reasoning for the choice of this “spiritual father” was that T.B. Joshua had correctly predicted that he would win the 2008 elections. So when he finally won, Prof. Mills was strident in making his superstitious belief a national knowledge and appointing T.B. Joshua as his “spiritual father.
Prof. Mills was not alone in popularizing these so-called prophets predicting stuff. Indeed, our own President Akufo-Addo did not mince words in crediting his victory, not entirely to the discerning Ghanaian people that voted him into power, but to one Owusu Bempah, a self-acclaimed prophet whose educational and experiential credentials ought to be highly diminutive compared to that of our aged President who is supposed to be the smartest President this country has ever installed; and certainly the smartest President in the whole of Africa, if only by dint of his own pedigree, education, and leadership record.
And taking a cue from the recognition which our leaders are willing to accord these masqueraders, these mountebanks and charlatans are now on the rampage: There is now a cackle of prophets struggling to outdo each other in predicting deaths of popular Ghanaians, the outcome of the 2020 elections, athletic events, lottery numbers and even those whose husbands or wives are about to divorce them. Thus, there now exists in this country the rule of the prophetic magicians, miracle mongers, and spiritual raconteurs; and there appears to be no end to the charade.
The truth is that despite our independence and our education, the nation never really got past its ancient idolatrous worship, even upon the advent of the foreigners’ fake religions. Rather, like typical chameleons, these idol worshippers transmogrified their garb and habits from the raffia skirts to the flamboyant cassocks, while feeding the population with the same religious trash and trickery, and fleecing them of huge tax -free cash and benefits.
Now I say all these not to traduce the honor in which I hold the generality of our citizenry: I am only postulating that even if our most learned and astute politicians and leaders hold themselves subordinate to religious superstition, then how much more the ordinary Ghanaian who is functionally illiterate and has not had the benefit of foreign exposure and good education?
For indeed, if one is really educated and highly enlightened, one could only conclude that all religions regularly spawn superstition and brain damage, insofar as the religions do not aim at making a person good and righteous, but rather naïve and stupid.
The only functional and purposeful use of any religious movement to the nation really lies within its own capacity to make its devotees ethically and morally strong and intellectually competent. Unfortunately, if we were to gauge our present religious fervor against this standard, we would find that none of our faiths measures up to this strict scrutiny. Generally speaking, we are only using our religion to advance our utmost superstition and unfounded fears while opening ourselves up to the preying prophets who operate solely for their profits.
The type of religion now prevailing in our country has made all of us dopes of superstition in ways that are completely hopeless. Till date, too many of our citizens have been highly educated and traveled abroad and experienced the highest forms of intellectual advancement without so much as an infinitesimal change in their nativist mental state.
As recently as last year, Ghanaians from New Jersey informed me of a sister’s death. This sister had stayed in the USA for nearly forty years without visiting home, or helping anybody at home because she was convinced by her pastor that her parents and children were witches out to get her. One client of mine also came to my office in Austin to support the claim of a friend who called from Ghana to allege that his mother was a witch. Another was convinced that a mad man prancing about on his village streets went crazy because he tried to use his nephews for juju money. Last year, one outstanding Ghanaian writer who spent majority of his time writing about his village chieftaincy argued that given the fact that some prophets correctly predicted the death of Ebony, President Akufo-Addo should adhere to their other predictions and not attend the coming March 6 independence-day festivities. As support for this absurd reasoning, he profusely quoted the clairvoyant’s prediction of Julius Caesar’s death on the ides of March, 44 BC!
All around us, we have used religious superstition either to oppress or to be oppressed; and we have learned nothing from established religions to improve upon our society, to become better human beings, to protect our environment, to be creative and innovative, and to advance our national project. Except to allow all these charlatans and mountebanks to influence the most influential amongst us, and to send us back to those primitive times when horned psychopaths and mass murderers descended from mountain tops to tell us what their god of savagery has proclaimed for their own comfort and convenience.
Samuel Adjei Sarfo, J.D., is a general legal practitioner in Austin, Texas, USA. You can email him at [email protected]