WHAT KIND OF REVOLUTION WAS DR. OTABIL TAKLING ABOUT?
What the likes of Dr. Otabil also refuse to acknowledge is the idea that, unlike the ideological bluntness and political maturity of Marley, Tosh, or Fela, say, the state he criticizes if and when it suits his partisan political whims and caprices, is the same state same that has made it possible for his church and others like it to proliferate across the geopolitical landscape of Ghana. Granted, religious freedom is enshrined in the national Constitution and the state and its bureaucratic apparatuses enforce it. These cherished enshrined requirements are linked to public safety concerns. It is public knowledge that public safety is the primary objective of the state security apparatus and the intelligence community.
There is no question, therefore, that Dr. Otabil, the clergy and their churches directly and indirectly benefit from these state-mandated policy safety strategies and tactics. On the other hand, we know Dr. Otabil may not dare make an attempt to go to North Korea in the hope of establishing one of the branches of his church there, as well as of criticizing the Korean government the way he conveniently and mechanically does in Ghana. We are merely analogizing Dr. Otabil to a citizen of North Korea who wants to set up a church in North Korea and to criticize the government of Kim Jong-un. Whoopi Goldberg, Dan Rather, and Bill Maher reportedly lost their jobs for daring to criticize and make fun of George Bush and his government.
Regardless, Ghana is not a Christian theocracy. Neither is it an Islamic theocracy. It is secular for that matter. Alas, men of God like the respected Dr. Otabil have made it a point to hide behind an imagined Great Wall of political theocracy to commoditize partisan politics. Let us take note of this.
SOME POINTS TO CONSIDER
What sort of a revolution was Dr. Otabil referring to, we ask again? We are not too sure of it, though, because he conveniently muddled the rhetorical question with a possibly careless statement to the effect that, the kind of “revolution” he had in mind was not a “political one.” Yet if we recall his entire launch speech itself was entirely, if not in ideological substance at least, a political one, just like many of his public utterances and preachifying schemes (pulpitry) are purely political in nature. His brazen Abrahamic lie could therefore be likened to Abraham who had to lie to Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife, just to save his backside from being fried.
Of course, Dr. Otabil is not alone in this shameless exercise of political Abrahamism. A number of highly placed persons in the hierarchy of the Ghanaian clergy are guilty of this Abrahamic crime. We have already mentioned the Owusu-Bempahs, the Obinims, and the Prof. Marteys. More so, his kind of revolution is political in every sense of the word because it can only be realized via a judicious exercise of the elective franchise. That is, the quote we attributed to Dr. Otabil in the prequel (Part 1) is political in that “the people” he is referring to cannot wrest power from “incompetence” without the ballot box, an exercise of the elective franchise.
For if that were indeed not the case, how else then could the masses wrest the state from “incompetence,” though we want to believe that he is making subtle references to political nihilism? Of course, political nihilism is morally acceptable if is not executed through a coup d’état? How about the masses wresting the modern church from the corrupt and charlatan clergy and returning it to its first-century Christological originalism? Do pastors like Dr. Otabil allow their congregation to vote for them, to assume leadership of their churches among other things? Is it not the case that their lifetime spiritual lordship over their churches has always been attributed to transcendental imprimatur?
For how long has Dr. Otabil been the pastor and overseer of his church? In fact he does not exactly say. Let us also not forget that the word “incompetence” and its political and moral connotations have come to be associated with the Mahama presidency and his political appointees. It is a word that has gained emotional currency in the political vocabulary of Ghana’s highly charged partisan duopoly. Yet we also know Dr. Otabil has sanctioned some members of his church for questioning aspects of his leadership in addition to some of his decisions.
These sanctioned members are those very few morally courageous persons who had wanted to initiate a “revolution” in his church as an expressed critique of pastoral authoritarianism.
OTHERS IN DR. OTABIL’S IMAGE
We also have highly placed information to that effect with the pastoral lordship of Dag Heward-Mills, the founding overseer of the Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI). Heward-Mills for one brings Catholic autocracy and doctrinal anachronisms to bear on modern Pentecostalism and Charismaticism. Again, we say these things on authority because we have direct access to privileged information from friends who have been with both Drs. Otabil and Heward-Mills since the beginnings of their churches to this very day.
For instance, we have it on first-hand authority from a medical-doctor friend and classmate of Heward-Mills, who had to leave the LCI for another church in New Jersey, USA, apparently because he objected to Heward-Mills always claiming to have received anointment and revelation from God as to the contents of sermons his pastors from around the world should preach to their members every Sunday, as though the contrary anointment and revelation our friend also received from the same God was of and from the Devil.
The question is: How could the same God be an author of good and of evil before two of his worshippers? Thus there are so many wrongs taking root in the modern church and yet these so-called men of God, many of them incorrigible, find it convenient to keep quite over them, only to turn their public attention to secular politics as a strategy and tactic of righteous distraction from proverbial experiences of internal corruption! Is Dr. Otabil prepared to lead the launching of his brand of “revolution” as James Cones and Gustavo Gutiérrez did with liberation theology in the Americas?
Could he stick with Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You,” Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” and the “Nazareth Manifesto,” so-called, as others are doing? We are yet to know when he is going to give us a detailed schematic exegesis of what he actually meant by “revolution,” a word that has no meaning in his launch speech. And because his launch speech lacks strategic and tactical clarity, it becomes almost pointless trying to make sense of the sort of “revolution” he had in his mind when he launched his partisan political speech, a subtle critique of incumbent presidency.
Fortunately, unlike Dr. Otabil, Malcolm X gave us a choice between the ballot and the bullet. The likes of Dr. Otabil are merely good at arm-chair theorizing.
As a matter of fact, some of the foregoing details are public knowledge. Thus, it is the height of righteous hypocrisy on Dr. Otabil’s part to try to dissemble his political coloration behind a translucent glass of political impartiality. Still, there is so much he appears not to have taken note of when he conveniently launched into his subtle political partisan speech. Then again, it appears his present political jeremiad against statism could have arisen from the proverbial possibility of his friends not being awarded, among other things, juicy contracts from incumbency as they surely did under Kufuor.
This is all too clear for even the political novice to grasp. The statism he is so incensed about did not come out of the blue. It enjoys the imprimatur of constitutionalism. His friend John Kufuor, who presided over a nuanced presidential monarchy, did not change the constitution to fit his recurring critique of statism, or of the sweeping constitutive powers the state exercises in its interaction with citizens. Therefore executive dominance becomes a natural corollary of statism. It was the same state John Kufuor presided over, eventually bequeathing it to the NDC under Mills and Mahama. It was also the same state Rawlings bequeathed to Kufuor. Of course, Kufuor was part of the Rawlings government.
In fine, the state he is conveniently lambasting at this time for being overly dominant in the affairs of the private sector is also the same state that has provided the enabling environment, where, for instance, the church’s investment in the private sector is yielding returns, which possibly explains why Duncan-Williams and Charles Agyinasare, to mention but two, men of God who are reportedly been identified with the incumbent party are not nagging as their colleague Dr. Otabil has been doing with his ideological perseveration and emotionally skewed political commentaries.
MORAL AND SOCIAL REVOLUTION
Religions such as modern Christianity are as much political and business as secular politics is also political and business. In the Fourth Republic the concept of the separation of church and state, for instance, is increasingly becoming irrelevant in Ghanaian politics. It is probably because Ghanaian politics in the Fourth Republic is increasingly assuming an ideological character of political theology. On the other hand President Mahama’s seeming alignment with the Islamic bloc, as his acceptance of the Gitmo 2, his government’s invitation of Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips into the country, and his recent visit to Iran all seem to indicate, is probably unnerving and alienating some religious personalities on the Christian right, hence Dr. Otabil’s nagging for instance.
We do not know for certain if the foregoing is actually the case. Therefore if moral revolution was what Dr. Otabil had had in his subtle political mind, then we would rather he better began that kind of revolution in the modern church, particularly the Ghanaian strain. He may therefore serve the country better if he directs his Christian anarchism at the internal reorganization of the modern church in Ghana to suit first-century framology of Christological originalism. Certainly, his listeners will not take him serious if he looks askance at moral corruption in the modern church while at the same time conveniently investing his moral energies in the public critique of political corruption and statism.
Of course, Dr. Otabil can and should do the two, even if simultaneously, we should add in other words. And if he says his kind of revolution is not a political one, then he may have subtly referred to moral or social revolution, a position very difficult to maintain because he has as yet to provide a roadmap for it. It is therefore a working hypothesis nonetheless. On the other hand, removing the question of political revolution from any convenient array of exegetical possibilities by his potential detractors and enemies also means or call for the radical neutralization of any potential for secular anarchism. There also exists a great potential for political nihilism if we are permitted to stretch the intrinsic logic of his largely nebulous arguments. This is quite clear from the foregoing corollary.
In the end Dr. Otabil is a brilliant and intelligent observer of the Ghanaian political landscape, a man who clearly understands the intricate language of public diplomacy and human psychology, and accordingly calibrates his political theology to suit the intellectual threshold of his gullible and sophisticated audience alike, although he has not always been successful with pragmatic competence. Notwithstanding his theological and doctrinal pragmatics and high social intelligence, particularly as they relate to political realism, set him apart from the likes of Obinim and Owusu-Bempah.
But he is not self-made as he and some of his gullible followers sometimes want the public to believe. No successful human being for that matter is self-made. Both gullible and sophisticated persons alike have paid for his “positive” messages via offertory, tithes, and “Kofi ni Ama.”
HYPOCRITICAL CLERICAL CONTRADICTIONS: DR. MENSAH OTABIL & PROF. EMMANUEL MARTEY
Just last year Prof. Emmanuel Martey, Moderator of the Presbytarian Church of Ghana, claimed he could have solved the chronic problem of dumsor in three months if he were the president of the Republic of Ghana. He told the Ghanaian media: “If I were in charge, within three months I will solve the problem.” Yet he did not tell us how. Now dumsor seems to have been brought under control and suddenly Dr. Otabil appears from nowhere, telling Ghanaians not to be “happy…with electricity.” Should Ghanaians rather be happy with dumsor when he and his family have been enjoying a 24-hour, 7-day uninterrupted flow of electricity at their posh Trasacco Valley house?
Was bringing dumsor under control not better than the charlatan theatrics of the Obinims, the Owusu-Bempahs, and the Kennedy Agyapongs, which he fails to address in public? Is easing the problems dumsor has been creating for the nation not a good thing for the private sector? How many businesses have collapsed since dumsor intensified? How much did the Kufuor presidency do to ease this chronic dumsor menace? What is wrong with some of these so-called men of God who are taking strong exception to popular elation over dumsor being brought under some control?
Well, in 2013 a member of Dr. Otabil’s church now in the United States told this author, of course an unsubstantiated rumor, to the effect that a wealthy member of his church bought the Trasacco Valley house for him and his family because someone either raped or attempted to rape his daughter in his old house! The question is: As rich as he was and still is, could Dr. Otabil not have bought the Trasacco Valley house if this unsubstantiated rumor has any substance of provable credibility? What is certain is that the “poor” people of his church have made him fabulously wealthy!
All these are not in any way meant to take away from his philanthropy, his Christian apologetics, his high social intelligence, his political realism, and his seeming doctrinal pragmatics. The man is simply a time-bomb of sociopolitical, intellectual, and moral contradictions. Thomas Hobbes’ book “Leviathan” has some useful ideas on how the state and the church work in a secular setting.
FÜHRER AKUFO-ADDO AND DR. MENSA OTABIL
Could the diplomatic passport which Führer Akufo-Addo reportedly gave Dr. Otabil during the Kufuor presidency, and subsequently taken from him by the NDC government, have been the primary motivation behind his [the latter’s] incurable political schizophrenia and questionable perseverative posturing? What could be true is that he probably relishes having the impounded diplomatic passport restored to him!
Plus, he is probably relishing the privileges he once enjoyed under the Kufuor presidency and cannot stand or contain the creeping sense of nostalgia eating him up! That creeping sense of nostalgia, we believe, is also probably the basis of his schadenfreude politics, his mechanical utterances, and his doomsday politicking.
DR. OTABIL AND BISHOP OBINIM
There is even a video circulating on social media in which Obinim reportedly goes into the spiritual where he reportedly retrieves an old passport for one of his gullible church members. Where is Dr. Otabil in all these? The other question is: Why can Dr. Otabil not simply believe in this other man of God, Bishop Obinim, as opposed to Führer Akufo-Addo? There is no doubt in our minds that Bishop Obinim can get him the diplomatic passport back to him if Führer Akufo-Addo does not win the presidency for the third time! Bishop Obinim is a sophisticated spiritual thief!
Nana Akua Tweneboah-Koduah. “Pastor Mensa Otabil is Deceptive.” Vibeghana. August 18, 2014.
Ghanaweb. “I Can Fix ‘Dumsor’ in 3 Months—Presby Moderator.” Sourced from Starrfmonline.com.
Edward Acquah. “’Tricky Miracle’ as Bishop Obinim Retrieves Church Member’s Old Passport from the Cemetery.” Kasapafmonline.com. January 20, 2016.
We shall return…