28.06.2022 Feature Article

National Mosque, National Cathedral Controversy Not Going Away Anytime Soon

National Mosque, National Cathedral Controversy Not Going Away Anytime Soon
28.06.2022 LISTEN

It is perfectly in keeping with the age-old relationship of confraternity and sororal kinship between Ghana's Christian Majority and the country's Muslim Minority communities for the Executive-Director of the National Cathedral, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah, to unreservedly retract his previous rejoining assertion that the Ghana Government – and here I am assuming the John Dramani Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress – actively “facilitated” the funding and the construction of the National Mosque in Accra (See “National Cathedral Director Apologizes for Wrongfully Claiming Gov't Facilitated Building of National Mosque” 6/15/22).

Much has already been written and published on this long-running flap between supporters of the Akufo-Addo-proposed construction of an Interreligious and an Interdenominational National Cathedral and the National Mosque, so we do not find it necessary to rehash the same here at the present time. What we can, however, counsel is that this monkey-wrench of a kink in the controversy needs to be thoroughly investigated and ironed out in order to definitively lay matters to rest permanently and move on with the much greater general national-development agenda of the government. What is crystal clear here is the fact that at least one foreign government on the watch of former President John “European Airbus Payola” Dramani Mahama – and perhaps the immediately preceding John Evans Atta “Woyome” Mills-led government of the National Democratic Congress – was allowed to flagrantly violate the sovereignty of Ghana's Fourth Republic in order to facilitate the construction of the admittedly magnificent and majestic edifice of the National Mosque.

We know this for a fact because the late Alhaji Bature wrote reams of news columns the equivalent of several sizeable tomes on this subject in his Hajj newspaper, including news about some of the precious stones used in the construction of the walls of the National Mosque's having been imported from the Muslim Republic of Turkey, presently renamed Turkiye. Actually, the latter name has always been used by the native citizens of Turkey since anybody can remember. I know this also because I have taught English, both Remedial English and College Composition and Literature to scores of Turkish students at the State University of New York (SUNY) community college where I have been teaching for nearly three decades. It is also significant to highlight the fact that in the past, the Turkish government has vehemently denied rumors that it had a direct hand in the construction of the National Mosque in Accra. Rather, the Ankara government had insisted that it was the Religious Relations or Religious Affairs Division of that nation's Presidency that had participated in the construction of Ghana's National Mosque through voluntarily solicited funding, with absolutely no direct input by the central Turkish government itself.

Now, whatever the real case scenario may be on the ground, as it were, it is inescapably clear that the construction of the National Mosque in Accra could not have occurred without the official or unofficial consent of both the Ghana and Turkish governments of the day. It is also equally important to underscore the fact that the revered centenarian National Chief Imam, His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, has significantly contributed to the construction of the National Mosque. Of course, we have absolutely no way of ascertaining the vehement assertion and protestation by the Coalition of Muslim Organizations of Ghana (COMOG), led by Alhaji Abdel-Manan Abdel-Rahman, COMOG's President, that, indeed, “the State [that is, the Government of Ghana] under no political regime contributed a pesewa to the construction of the National Mosque.” Which does not necessarily, by the way, mean that Alhaji Abdel-Rahman was levelling up with the Ghanaian people when he pontifically made the above-quoted statement that has been widely attributed to the COMOG President.

What we can almost say with surety or certainty is that this controversy is highly unlikely to be permanently settled in the foreseeable future, at least, as long as members of the country's main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, insist on and persist in their dastardly attempt to scoring cheap political points with and from the same. Indeed, even as Dr. Opoku-Mensah accurately noted, approximately 90-percent of Ghana's 30-million-plus population describes itself as either Christian or Muslim, although it can clearly and authoritatively not be gainsaid that the approximately 80-percent of Ghanaians who call themselves Christians, practicing or non-practicing, easily makes the Sovereign Democratic Republic of Ghana a Christian-majority country or nation. We also do not intend to be intimidated by any sinister forces ranged against the laudable, even if not necessarily the popular, construction of the National Cathedral.

We only hope that the Akufo-Addo Administration would sincerely and fearlessly level up with the people vis-à-vis the funding sources of the National Cathedral, which Ghanaians were initially informed was purely the private pet project of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, whose main source of funding was primarily and exclusively private and voluntary.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York

E-mail: [email protected]

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