CHRISTIANITY AND AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION IN KUMASI: A COMPARATIVE STUDY by Amponsah Samuel Effah B. A. (Hons) Theology A Thesis submitted to the school of graduate studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS (AFRICAN ART AND CULTURE) Faculty of Art, College of Art and Social Science May, 2009 2009 Department of General Art Studies i DECLARATION
I hereby declare that this submission is my own work towards the MA African Art and Culture and that to the best of my knowledge, it contains no material previously published by another person not material which has been accepted for the award of any other degree of the University, except where due acknowledgement has been made in the text. AMPONSAH SAMUEL EFFAH STUDENT’S NAME PG 8274005 ID No ______________ SIGNATURE _____________ DATE CERTIFIED BY: DR. OPAMPHEN OSEI AGYEMAN (SUPERVISOR’S NAME) _______________ SIGNATURE ______________ DATE
CERTIFIED BY: DR. JOE ADU-AGYEM (HEAD OF DEPARTMENT’S NAME) _______________ SIGNATURE ______________ DATE ii DEDICATION This work is first and foremost dedicated to the Almighty God for His Love and Abundant Mercies. Secondly, I dedicate it to my lovely wife, Mrs. Victoria Amponsah (Inspector of Ghana Prisons Service, Kumasi) and adorable sons, Caleb, Emmanuel and Mensa O. A. Amponsah for their patience and support. Lastly, to my parents and loved ones for the wonderful roles they have played in my life, I shall forever be grateful. ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I offer my profound gratitude to God Almighty for granting me strength and fortitude to complete this work. Secondly, for continual prayer, financial support and encouragement, I convey my gratitude to the General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Churches, Dr. Mensa Otabil, Deacons and Deaconesses of the Atonsu Branch of the International Central Gospel Church, Prayer Temple, Kumasi, Ghana. Also, my deepest appreciation and gratitude go to my supervisor, Dr.
Osei Agyeman, Former Head of Department, General Art Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, for his experience and patience he brought to bear during his supervisory role of this work. Indeed, my sincere appreciation goes to Mr. Adam Rahman (Lecturer at KNUST, a Deacon at ICGC, Atonsu Branch, who took pictures of the African Traditionalists during the interview sessions with the latter. Finally, Mr. Peter Annan Aborhey (Ghana Post Company Limited) could not be left out for his invaluable suggestions and the typing of the project. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Pages Declaration Dedication Acknowledgements Table of Contents List of Figures List of Tables Abstract CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 1. 5 1. 6 1. 7 1. 8 1. 9 Background of the study Statement of the Problem Hypothesis Objectives Scope of the Study Limitation Significance of the Study/Importance of the study Chapter Organization Definition of Terms 1 1 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 7 ii iii iv v ix xi xii CHAPTER TWO REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE 2. 1 2. 2 2. 3 2. Overview Global Perspective on Religions Perspective on African Traditional Religion Misconceptions Paganism v 8 8 13 15 16 17 Heathenism Fetishism Animism Idolatry Primitive and Native 2. 5 2. 6 2. 7 2. 8 2. 9 2. 10 Christianity In Africa Today Perspective on Ghanaian Religious Mix African Traditional Religions African Traditional Religion in Ghana Characteristics of African Traditional Religion General Similarities Between Christianity and African Traditional Religion 2. 11 2. 12 2. 13 2. 14 2. 15 2. 6 Creator God The presence of Evil Unseen Realm Emphasis on Community Covenant General Differences between Christianity and African Traditional Religion 2. 17 2. 18 2. 19 2. 20 Religious Co-habitation In communities Contemporary Attitude and Practice Freedom of Religion in Ghana Influence of Christianity and African Traditional Religion on Host Communities 18 18 19 19 20 22 23 26 28 30 30 30 31 32 33 33 33 36 38 40 41 vi CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY 3. 0 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 3. 4 3. 5 3. 6 3. 7 3. 8 3. 9 3. 10 3. 11 3. 12 3. 13 3. 14 3. 15 3. 6 Introduction Population Sample Sampling Procedure Research Design Research Instrument Pilot Study Administration of Questionnaires Method of Analysis Data Analysis and Discussion Introduction Data Analysis – Christians and African Traditionalists Respondent’s Gender Status Age Distribution of Respondents Educational Level Respondents’ Distribution – Christian Denomination Conclusion 48 48 48 49 49 50 50 50 51 52 52 54 54 54 54 55 56 57 vii CHAPTER FOUR PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS PROJECT ANALYSIS 4. 1 4. 2 4. 3 4. 4 4. 5 4. 6 4. 7 4. 8 4. 9 4. 10 4. 11 4. 12 4. 13 4. 14 4. 15 4. 16 4. 17 4. 18 4. 9 Beliefs and Objects of worship Acceptance of Women as Pastors/Traditional Priestesses Polygamy Philosophy Views of respondents on Christianity and African Traditional Religion Membership Base Succession Plan Matters of Conversion Interviews with Traditional and Christian Leaders Interviews with African Traditionalists Okomfo Nana Serwaa Okomfo Nana Yaw Poku Adam Ibrahim Interviews with Christian Leaders Muzama Disco Christo Church (MDCC) Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Calvary Redemption Church Hope and Glory Ministries International Christ the King Roman Catholic Church Similarities Between Christianity and African Traditional Religion in Kumasi Peaceful Co-existence of Both Religions in Kumasi Influence of Christianity and African Traditional Religion on Host Communities 58 58 58 58 59 60 60 61 62 62 62 62 62 68 74 80 80 85 88 89 90 94 95 4. 20 4. 21 96 viii CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 5. 0 5. 1 5. 2 Summary Conclusion Recommendations REFERENCES Appendix 1 Appendix 2 REFERENCES 104 104 104 105 106 110 113 116 ix LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.
Worldwide Percentage of Adherents by Religion Respondents Gender Ratio Respondents’ Age Distribution Level of Education of respondents Percentage of Respondents in Denominations Okomfo Nana Serwaa of Akonedi shrine The Tree of Death A Shrine of Okomfo Nana Serwaa Okomfo Nana Yaw Poku in his Consultation room Okomfo Nana Yaw Poku during an interview with the researcher One of the Shrine Spots of Okomfo Nana Yaw Another Shrine of Okomfo Nana Yaw Poku Adam Ibrahim during Consultation Shrine and other healing materials of Adam Ibrahim Adam Ibrahim exhibits a powerful whisk he uses in creating charms/spells The Akaboha(left) and Apostle Jeminaiah K. Rawlings(right) The Altar of the MDCC at Ahwiaa The Great Jubilee Grotto, where prayers and supplications are made A Statue of Mary, mother of God, intercedes for all saints Page 14 53 55 56 57 63 65 66 70 70 71 73 75 78 79 83 84 92 93 x 20.
Cowries shells are use to search into the spiritual realm the kind of Sickness the person is going through. 96 99 21. 22. The Nyantal Herbal Clinic, Ampaame-Kumasi A Restaurant for the community and visitors by Okomfo Nana Yaw Opoku at Ampabame, Kumasi 100 LIST OF TABLES Table 1. 2. 3. Distribution of Respondents Respondents’ Gender Ratio Age Distribution Page 53 53 54 xi ABSTRACT This thesis, Christianity and African Traditional Religion in Kumasi – A Comparative Study, sought to study the differences and similarities of both religions, whether there was the existence of peaceful co-habitation and their collective influence on their host communities. The research findings outlined the differences and similarities in the host communities.
The study also established the fact that there was peaceful co-existence of both religions and that their collective influence on their host communities were praise-worthy in terms of the promotion of social cohesiveness and the provision of certain social amenities Primary data collection on the field, extensive interviews and observations were done. The descriptive, narrative, analytical and interpretative methods were applied in describing, analyzing, and interpreting the data collected. Recommendations were given to basically enhance the maintenance and entrenchment of the respect of freedom of worship and possible mechanisms of resolution to be applied in any religious conflict that may arise in the communities under consideration. xii CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1. Background of the study The history of Ghana would never be complete unless perhaps a chapter or so is devoted to the story of Christianity and African Traditional Religion. What perhaps must be considered at this point in time is the comparative study of Christianity and Traditional Religion and to analyze them with respect to the contribution the movements have made. Both religions are believed to have been sending their petitions or thanks for divine protection to a Being higher than they are. Christians are believed to serve and worship God through Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the African Traditionalists are thought to revere the Supreme Being (God) through their gods and Ancestors, that is, through divinity cults and ancestral veneration.
Obviously, there exist certain differences and similarities in their respective beliefs and practices, taking cognizance of their ability to co-exist. Three denominations within the commonwealth of Christendom were considered by the researcher, namely, the Roman Catholics, the Protestants and the African initiated Churches. Roman Catholic Churches in Ghana were founded by the Roman Catholic Missionary Orders. They have by and large, retained the Roman Catholic Church’s emphasis on the unity and authority of the church and have in the last half of the twentieth century, taken their place as full and equal partners in the worldwide Roman Catholic Church.
On the other hand, Protestant Churches were founded by Protestant Missionaries and have retained significant identification with the European or American Protestant Churches. Much emphasis is placed on the authority of the Bible and the need for an 1 individual to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ by considering him as one’s personal saviour. African Protestant Churches or African indigenous churches are said to be independent, depending upon who is describing them. They have typically grown out of a Protestant Mission Context, but often in frustration with the Western Missionaries, and have gone their own way and function without reference to overseas churches. They also use Christian versions of African Traditional Religions and may use Christian words in reference to God.
African Traditional Religion, like any other religion, has its own features, many of which are: • Belief in smaller deities and ancestors to whom libations are made and sacrifices offered, • Belief in the fact that the human being is weak and has to depend on benevolent transcendent powers for protection and sustenance and, • They also believe in Causality meaning that, Africans generally believe that events have causes and that things in this world do not happen by chance. The aggregate meaning of these beliefs is that there is a great deal of communication between the transcendent powers and human beings in order that people and communities would be protected. This is the focus of all the rituals and traditional festivals that are celebrated. Prayer is a medium of communication with transcendent realities and to that end, it constitutes a principal medium for the articulation of the cardinal beliefs of particular religions.
A typical African Traditional Religious prayer by the people of Akan descent in Ghana usually includes the declaration of attributes of God, other deities and the ancestors. Libations are often performed and supplications made. 2 1. 2 Statement of the problem Arguably the world’s largest religion, Christianity nevertheless faces some amount of challenges? notably, competition with other religions such as the African Traditional Religion. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/major_religious_groups). This situation has led, in part, to religious conflicts in host communities. Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, is not insulated from such potential conflicts.
A healthy respect and understanding of the general similarities and differences of both religions could help enhance co-habitation. Thus peaceful co-existence could lead to the overall benefit of members in host communities in terms of the provision of social amenities by religious charity work and the attainment of consistent spiritual upliftment. 1. 3 Hypothesis It is possible to study Christianity and Traditional African Religion in Kumasi in order to bring out their similarities and differences, their influences on host communities, discuss their co-existence and offer pertinent suggestions. This statement is the main premise for which data is collected. The subsequent discussions, analyses and interpretations seek to substantiate or disprove the hypothesis. 1. 4
Objectives The main objective of this thesis is to study the beliefs and practices of certain Christian denominations and selected traditional shrines in Kumasi with the view to:i. Examining the similarities and the differences between the two systems of religion. 3 ii. Identifying and documenting the influences of Christianity and African Traditional Religion on the communities in which they operate and on the entire Ghanaian society. iii. Ascertaining whether these religions exist harmoniously together or not, and to what extent? Causes of conflict or harmony and their effects. iv. Offer pertinent recommendations that could contribute to knowledge and social use or impose the existing relationship to enhance religious tolerance and peaceful-coexistence of their adherents. 1. 5
Scope of study The research is mainly limited to Christianity and African Traditional Religion in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital of Ghana, assess their impact on the well being of the people. While discussing these, references are occasionally made to events in other cultural settings within and without Ghana. Suburbs where research was carried out include Ahinsan, Ampabame, Ahwiaa, Atansemanso, Sokoban-Krofrom and Adum. This research work was carried out between the period of 1997 and 1999. 1. 6 Limitation Limited period of time and inadequate financial resources for field work and recording equipment could only allow for a few towns or suburbs within Kumasi to be covered in this research. 4 1. 7
Significance of the study/importance of the study Although Ghana has been described as a secular nation by the 1992 Constitution, majority of Ghanaians are Christians and in order to achieve harmonious co-existence with other religious bodies, it is imperatively right to look into Christianity and African Traditional Religion (which also has a sizable following) to see the best way peace could be well maintained and promoted among the people. Although Ghanaians have often been referred to as a peace loving people, the influence of religion in the pursuit of peace cannot be overlooked. This research work sought to iterate the importance of religious tolerance among Christians of different denominations and adherents of African Traditional Religion. 1. 8 Chapter organization This research deals with a comparative study of Christianity and African Traditional Religion in Kumasi. There are discussions about their similarities and differences, cohabitation and their influences on the host communities.
This study also covers their mode of practice, temples and shrines, including their mode of worship. The research is divided into five main chapters namely: 1. Opinion leaders 2. Church leaders 3. Intellectuals Chapter one – introduction This chapter outlines, the background information, the statement of the problem, objectives, hypothesis and scope of the study. It also touches on limitations encountered, significance of the study, an assumption, methodology, chapter organization and definition of terms. Chapter two – review of related literature This chapter assembles and reviews available related literature on the subject of this thesis and provides adequate materials for purposes of comparison and analysis. 5
Chapter three – methodology This chapter deals mainly with the data sampled, their analyses and discussions. The three hundred respondents to the administered questionnaires are grouped under subheadings such as: education, age, religious affiliation and views on Christianity and African Traditional Religion among others. Research methodology The narrative method was employed in the historical overview of religious activities, roles and impact on the life of the people. The descriptive method, on the other hand, was applied when reviewing the various objects used in religious worship. This helped to identify, study and assemble facts about the religions, which can be there for posterity to judge.
The analytical method helped in the examination, evaluation and interpretation of literature, personal interviews, publications, discussions, and critical observations. Data obtained from the field created a strong foundation for comparative analysis of both Christianity and African Traditional Religions in the Kumasi District. Chapter four – comparative study Apart from interviews of both Christian denominations and Fetish Priests/Priestess, this chapter discusses the similarities and differences of both Christianity and African traditional religion, in terms of practice and philosophy in the Kumasi district. Remedial steps to address associated problems are also discussed.
Furthermore, there is a discussion of issues related to promoting peaceful religious co-habitation and their influences on the host communities. Chapter five – summary, conclusions & recommendations As captioned, this chapter briefly compares the literature review of the thesis and the research findings, subsequently determining the contributions to knowledge made by this research. There is then a summary of the thesis. Finally, there are also a conclusion and recommendations. 6 Definition of terms Culture: It is the integrated pattern of human knowledge, beliefs, social forms and behavior that depends upon man’s capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.
Socio-economic Development: Conscious human efforts aimed at sustainable increase in the living standards that encompass material consumption, education, health, psychological growth and environmental protection. Beliefs: The mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something. It is also something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons. 7 CHAPTER TWO REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE 2. 1 Overview A definition of religion is difficult to make, because religion has many facets, many of which do not appear to be religious by themselves. For example, religion involves gathering in groups. It involves communal eating.
It involves theoretical discourse about the nature of the universe, and so forth. Countless definitions have been proposed by theoreticians. The most interesting thing is that the average person can tell when others are engaging in religious behaviour while many scholars and scientists have problems defining it. The concept of religion is like the concept of culture. It is easy to use it in ordinary discourse, but difficult to define it precisely (http://atheism. about. com/od/religiondefinition) Many say the etymology of religion lies with the Latin word religare, which means “to tie, to bind. ” This seems to be favoured on the assumption that it helps explain the power religion has.
The Oxford English Dictionary points out, though, that the etymology of the word is doubtful. Earlier writers like Cicero connected the term with relegere, which means “to read over again” (perhaps to emphasize the ritualistic nature of religions? ). The English word “religion” is derived from the Middle English “religioun” which came from the Old French “religion. ” It may have been originally derived from the Latin word “religo” which means “good faith,” “ritual,” and other similar meanings. Or it may have come from the Latin “religare” which also means “to tie fast. ” Defining the word “religion” is fraught with difficulty. Many attempts have been made.
Most seem to focus on too narrowly only a few aspects of religion; they tend to exclude those religions that do not fit well. As Jones (2006) wrote in his Essay On Defining Religion, “It is apparent 8 that religion can be seen as a theological, philosophical, anthropological, sociological, and psychological phenomenon of human kind. To limit religion to only one of these categories is to miss its multifaceted nature and lose out on the complete definition. ” It is true that many societies do not draw a clear line between their culture and what scholars would call “religion. ” This does not mean that religion does not exist, but it is worth keeping in mind that even when we think we have a handle on what religion is, we might be far from that.
Definitions of religion tend to suffer from one of two problems: they are either too narrow and exclude many belief systems which most agree are religious, or they are too vague and ambiguous, suggesting that just about any and everything is a religion. The key to arriving at an acceptable definition of religion lies in recognizing that religion is a concept which is at once teleological, normative, and orienting (which also explains its enormous importance). It is teleological in that it aims at practice, or a way of life. It is normative, in that it is concerned with providing standards of both morality, or right and wrong, and teleology, or right purpose. And it is orienting, in that religions offer an account of the nature of human beings, the universe, and the relationship between the two.
We would define religion, then, in this way: religions are bodies of doctrine that specify a way of life centered on the maximization of the good, where the good includes both morality and right purposes. Religions often do this in the context of providing an understanding of human nature and its best orientation to the universe as a whole (“best” here meaning “most value maximizing”). (http://www. progressiveliving. org/ definition_of_religion_defined. htm ) 9 A good example of a narrow definition is the common attempt to define “religion” as “belief in God,” effectively excluding polytheistic religions and atheistic religions while including theists who have no religious belief system. A good example of a vague definition is the tendency to define religion as “worldview” — but how can every worldview qualifies as a religion?
Some have argued that religion is not hard to define, however, the plethora of conflicting definitions is evidence of how difficult it really is. The problem lies in finding a definition that is empirically useful and empirically testable. So far, the best definition of religion seems to be the one supported by The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (http://www. progressiveliving. org/ definition_of_religion_defined. htm) where it lists traits of religions rather than declaring religion to be one thing or another, arguing that the more markers present in a belief system, the more “religious like” it is: • • • • • Belief in supernatural beings (gods). A distinction between sacred and profane objects. Ritual acts focused on sacred objects.
A moral code believed to be sanctioned by the gods. Characteristically religious feelings (awe, sense of mystery, sense of guilt, adoration), which tend to be aroused in the presence of sacred objects and during the practice of ritual, and which are connected in idea with the gods. • • Prayer and other forms of communication with gods. A world view or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. This picture contains some specification of an over-all purpose or point of the world and an indication of how the individual fits into it. • • A more or less total organization of one’s life based on the world view. A social group bound together by the above. 10
This definition captures much of what religion is across diverse cultures. It includes sociological, psychological, and historical factors and allows for broader gray areas in the concept of religion. It is not without flaws, though. The first marker, for example, is about “supernatural beings” and gives “gods” as an example, but thereafter only gods are mentioned. Even the concept of “supernatural beings” is a bit too specific; Eliade (1986) defined religion in reference to a focus on “the sacred” and that is a good replacement for “supernatural beings” because not every religion revolves around the supernatural. (http://www. progressiveliving. rg/ definition_of_religion_defined. htm). Perhaps, a better definition, according to , www. progressiveliving. org/ definition_of_religion_defined. htm, may be: • • • • • Belief in something sacred (for example, gods or other supernatural beings). A distinction between sacred and profane objects. Ritual acts focused on sacred objects. A moral code believed to have a sacred or supernatural basis. Characteristically religious feelings (awe, sense of mystery, sense of guilt, adoration), which tend to be aroused in the presence of sacred objects and during the practice of ritual. • • Prayer and other forms of communication with the supernatural.
A worldview or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. This picture contains some specification of an over-all purpose or point of the world and an indication of how the individual fits into it. • • A more or less total organization of one’s life based on the world view. A social group bound together by the above. 11 This is one of the definitions of religion used in this research. It describes religious systems but not non-religious systems. It encompasses the features common in belief systems generally acknowledged as religions without focusing on specific characteristics unique to just a few. (http://www. wordnet. princeton. edu/perl/webwn ).
This definition is buttressed by Michael Bradshaw et al (2004), who briefly defined Religion as an “organized system of values and practices, including faith in and worship of a divine being or beings”. In Religion in African Social Heritage, Akoi (1970) further complements this definition by arguing from the point of view that Religion is a social fact and that it fosters solidarity, continuity and the enforcement of moral laws. Religion therefore provides the sanctions that society cannot fully supply of itself, its moral and legal norms which could be kept in being as a body by secular sanctions. (http://www . wordnet. princeton. edu/perl/webwn).
Another definition used in this research is the one provided by the popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia which defines religion as, “A system of beliefs, including belief in the existence of at least one of the following: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body; A number of customs and rituals associated with such beliefs; Anything that involves the association of people in a system of social coherence based on a common group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, traditions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought. ” (http://www. en. wiktionary. org/wiki/religion) 12 2. 2. Global Perspective on Religions The world’s principal religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups or world religions. According to the 2005 survey of Encyclopedia Britannica, the vast majority of religious and spiritual adherents follow Christianity (33% of world population), Islam (20%), Hinduism (13%), Chinese folk religion (6. 3%) or Buddhism (5. 9%).
The irreligious and atheists make up about 14%, and about 4% follow indigenous ethnic religions. These spiritual traditions may be either combined into larger super-groups, or separated into smaller sub-denominations. Christianity, Islam and Judaism (and sometimes the Baha’i Faith) are summarized as Abrahamic religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism are classified as Indian religions (or Dharmic religions). Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto are classified as East Asian religions (or Far Eastern, Chinese, or Taoic religions). 13 In summary, religious adherence of the world’s population is as follows: “Abrahamic”: 53. 5%, “Indian”: 19. %, irreligious: 14. 3%, “Far Eastern”: 6. 5%, ethnic religions: 4. 0%, new religious movements: 2. 0%. 12 On the next page is a pictorial representation of the worldwide percentage by adherents of religions in Fig. 1. Fig. 1 Worldwide percentage of adherents to religion (mid 2005) Source: http:/en. wikipedia. org/wiki/image:worldwide_percentage_of_adherents_by_religion. png. 14 2. 3 Perspective On African Traditional Religion The African continent has been beset with conflicting systems of philosophies and religions from the East and West, with each of these systems trying to out-maneuver the others in order to gain a firmer foothold in Africa.
The desecration of Africa in the past by the Western European powers seriously and adversely affected the traditional cultures of the indigenous African people to the extent that many traditional beliefs, social values, customs, and rituals were either totally destroyed or ignored. In most cases they were considered to be nothing more than “pagan” values and superstitions that played no part in traditional African culture. When we speak of Africa in this context, we refer to Africa south of the Sahara desert. The North belongs more to the Mediterranean world and the religion of Islam is well established in that part of Africa. (http://www. afrikaworld. net/afrel/atr-socjustice. htm).
Culture, after all, is the way of life developed by people as they cope with survival. True culture then must include the traditional beliefs and spiritualism. In any case, at a certain point, the period of scorn for, or misunderstanding of African culture gave way to a period in which it was recognised and positively valued. (http://www. afrikaworld. net/afrel/community. htm). While this is not quite true of the culture, it certainly is of its principal and fruitful element: the religious phenomenon. Its complexity is such that in order to define it several terms were invented by ethnologists: superstition, fetishism, animism, totemism, manism, magic, and paganism.
All these terminologies express not only the complexity of the phenomenon, but also the awkwardness which its inventors felt when faced with such “inferior” forms of religion. 15 The most important thing is that it has been recognized that Africans have religions, or a religion, where these Africans have not only a link with the cosmos but also and above all with God. All agree in the recognition of the Supreme Being’s location at the summit, in the structure of traditional religion in Africa. And if one considers it in its highest form – the mystical – one realises that it presents not only a sort of natural mysticism, a mysticism of insight, a mysticism of immanence, but also a mysticism of God’s depth, a yearning of the soul for irrevocable union of the individual with God.
Indeed, in Africans, who experience intensely this vertical dimension of their spiritual life, there is a deeply felt sense of direct participation in the existence of God, inwardly perceived as unique, immense, hidden, rich, “burning”, just and good. So that, as has been noted, African mysticism is like others, an authentic, fascinating, complex and beautiful form of mysticism, one of the springs where parched souls can quench their thirst. 2. 4 Misconceptions The article Can Christianity Dialogue With African Traditional Religion? (http://www. afrikaworld. net/afrel/sarpong. html ) narrates that in the hey-day of traditional religion in Africa, the word of mouth was considered much more sacred than the written word is now. The author, Archbishop Peter Kwesi Sarpong, laments that Written wills are being constantly contested in Asante as elsewhere with a disgraceful frequency.
A hundred years ago, He contends, there was no way in which the verbal last testament of a dying person would be subtracted from, added to or disputed. Only one person may have heard it, yet it would be honoured. It was certain that that one person 16 would not put into the mouth of the dying person what he had not said. The word was powerful. Jesus taught this power of the word clearly. He never wrote down a word of what he said; but he founded a religion. African traditional religion does not tamper with the spoken word. Ceremonies of vital importance such as enstoolment of a chief, the marriage rite, the initiation of a priest or a youth into a secret society, the commissioning of a warrior, are all performed with ritual and words; nothing is written down.
To break a verbal oath is one of the greatest felonies in Asante. Archbishop Peter K. Sarpong continues that in his own life-time, Asante has seen a time when one could take food items from another person’s farm without the latter’s knowledge or consent. It was sufficient for the one who took the plantain or pepper to inform the rightful owner afterwards that he took it for personal consumption. He was believed, and would not abuse the trust by selling what he had taken. That is what religion is about. Religion is about fidelity and conviction, not about interpretation and analysis of ideas. African traditional religion’s lack of scripture has not, in any way, meant lack of effectiveness.
Religion is to be practiced not just to be talked about. Besides the negative view of African traditional religion, held by some people, based on its lack of scripture, African traditional religion, according to Sarpong, (http://www. afrikaworld. net/afrel/sarpong. html), has suffered other injustices especially in the way it has been labeled, namely; ‘Paganism’ It has been called pagan. That this is a misnomer is easily seen from the origin of the word ‘pagan’. The Latin root suggests that a pagan is originally a rugged, country person. 17 Later on, “paganism” was employed to refer to any religion that was not Islam, Judaism or Christianity.
It is an injustice to call West African traditional religion, with a strong belief in a God who is unique, incomparable and a Creator, paganism. ‘Heathenism’ The word heathenism too is a misnomer when applied to traditional African religion. A heathen is somebody who is supposed not to know God, one steeped in the worship of idols. Nobody with the least knowledge of Africa can honestly say that Africans do not know God. In any case to designate a whole religion as heathenism is, to say the least, uncharitable. ‘Fetishism’ Why the word fetishism has caught on as a description of one form of African traditional religion is again one of those mysteries.
The word derives from the Portuguese word feitico which means an object or an article. Discovering that the West Africans they met on the coast were wearing objects of religious value like charms, talismans and amulets, the Portuguese imagined that the religion of West Africans was a worship of such objects. One need not belabour the point that this is a great injustice. What about the wonderful names given to the Supreme Being and the honorific appellations he enjoys among us? The truth of the matter is that there is no religion in the world that can be called fetishism. And if because sacred objects are found in African traditional religion, the eligion is fetishistic, then we find ourselves in deep waters. There is no religion in which such objects are not found. In Christianity we respect statues and crucifixes, medals and rosaries. They, too, are objects. But we understand that these are a secondary aspect of 18 the Christian religion. Do they not also use prayer-beads? Do the Muslims not venerate the Kaaba? ‘Animism’ The term animism too, appears to be the choice of many. Coined by the great Tylor (1871) of Britain, animism is derived from the Latin word anima. The thinking behind the use of that word to describe African traditional Religion is that Africans believe that objects and animals have souls or spirits-anima.
While this may be true, it cannot be said that Africans believe that every object and every creature has such a spirit. In any case, again, the idea that some objects have spirits is not peculiar to Africa. It is simply incorrect to call African traditional religion animism. ‘Idolatry’ Idolatry simply means the worship of idols. The ideas found in African traditional religion comprise the belief in a Supreme Being, the ancestors, the lesser gods and powers and potencies. Why such a religion can be linked with the worship of statues, pictures or images representing divinities which is how the Pan English Dictionary defines the word “idol” is another of those inexplicable stereotypes.
Even if, for the sake of the argument, it is admitted that lesser gods are idols one worshipped, then they form only part of the religion and, therefore, cannot be made to represent the whole religion. It is obnoxious to call African religion idolatry. 19 ‘Primitive and Native’ Primitive is a derogatory term. It may mean first in time or it may mean “backward or ” savage”. African religion is not backward nor does it precede any other religion. It evolved as human beings came to live in Africa. African religion should not be described as primitive. In the English language, the term native has come to connote uncivilized, somebody from Africa or one of the so-called “primitive” societies. This is an unfortunate understanding of the word native. The Italian is as native to Italy as the Maori is native to New Zealand.
Every religion, therefore, is native to where it is founded. African traditional religion cannot be singled out and dishonoured with the word “native”. Christianity, on the other hand, is a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior. Christianity regards the Bible, a collection of canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament), as authoritative. It is believed by Christians to have been written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore for many it is held to be the inerrant word of God.
The books that are considered canon in the Bible vary depending upon the denomination using or defining it. These variations are a reflection of the range of traditions and councils that have convened on the subject. The Bible always includes books of the Jewish scriptures, the Tanakh, and includes additional books and reorganizes them into two parts: the books of the Old Testament primarily sourced from the Tanakh (with some variations), and the 27 books of the New Testament containing books originally written primarily in Greek. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox canons include other books from the Septuagint Greek Jewish canon which Roman Catholics call 20 Deuterocanonical. Protestants consider these books apocryphal. Some versions f the Christian Bible have a separate Apocryphal section for the books not considered canonical by the publisher. (http://www. afrikaworld. net/afrel/sarpong. html) The History of Christianity in Africa began in the 1st century when Mark the Evangelist started the Orthodox Church of Alexandria in about the year 43 AD. Little is known about the first couple of centuries of African Christian history, beyond the list of bishops of Alexandria. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity. html). At first the church in Alexandria was mainly Greek-speaking, but by the end of the second century, the scriptures and Liturgy had been translated into three local languages.
Christianity was also planted in north-western Africa (today known as the Maghreb), but the churches there were linked to the Church of Rome. At the beginning of the third century, according to Wikipedia (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity. html), the church began to expand rapidly, and five new bishoprics were established. These were suffragans of Alexandria, and at this time the Bishop of Alexandria began to be called Pope, as the senior bishop in Egypt. In the middle of the third century the church in Egypt suffered severely in the persecution under the Emperor Decius. Many Christians fled from the towns into the desert. When the persecution died down, however, some remained in the desert as hermits to pray.
This was the beginning of Christian monasticism, which over the following years spread from Africa to other parts of the Christian world. The fourth century began with renewed persecution under the Emperor Diocletian. In the early fourth century, King Ezana declared Christianity the official religion of the 21 Ethiopian Kingdom of Aksum after having been converted by Frumentius, resulting in the foundation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. 2. 5 Christianity In Africa Today At the beginning of this twenty-first century, Christianity is probably the main religion in most of sub-Saharan Africa, while in the northern part of the continent it is a minority religion, where the majority of the population is Moslem. There has been tremendous growth of Christianity in Africa.
As evidence, only nine million Christians were in Africa in 1900, but by the year 2000, there were an estimated 380 million Christians. According to a 2006 Pew Forum on Religion and Public life study, 147 millions of African Christians were “renewalists” (a term that includes both Pentecostals and charismatics). (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity_in_Africa. htm). Much of the Christian growth in Africa is now due to African evangelism rather than Western missionaries. In South Africa, it is rare to find a person with no religious beliefs, which is almost always Christianity amongst the whites, but Christianity is also popular amongst the blacks, especially city-dwellers.
Christianity in Africa shows tremendous variety, from the ancient forms of Oriental Orthodox Christianity in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Eritrea to the newest African-Christian denominations of Nigeria and Ghana, countries that have experienced massive conversion to Christianity in the recent time. Some experts tell about the shift of Christianity’s center of gravity from the Western industrialized nations to Africa, Asia and Latin America in modern times. A Yale University historian stated, that “African Christianity was not just an exotic, curious phenomenon in an obscure part of the world, but that African Christianity might be the shape of things to come. ” (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity_in_Africa. htm). The statistics from the World Christian 22
Encyclopedia (David Barrett) illustrates the emerging trend of dramatic Christian growth on the continent and supposes that in 2025 there will be 633 million Christians in Africa. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity_in_Africa. htm). 2. 6 Perspective On Ghanaian Religious Mix The country, Ghana, has an area of approximately 617, 810. 6 square Kilometres and an estimated population of approximately 21 million. The presence of Christian missionaries on the coast of Ghana has been dated to the arrival of the Portuguese in the fifteenth century. It was the Basel/Presbyterian and Wesleyan/Methodist missionaries, however, who, in the nineteenth century, laid the foundation for the Christian church in Ghana.
Beginning their conversions in the coastal area and among the Akwapim, these missionaries established schools as “nurseries of the church” in which an educated African class was trained. Almost all major secondary schools today, especially exclusively boys and girls schools, are mission- or church-related institutions. Although churches continue to influence the development of education in the country, church schools have been opened to all since the state assumed financial responsibility for formal instruction under the Education Act of 1960. Various Christian denominations are well represented in Ghana. The Volta Region has a high concentration of Evangelical Presbyterians. Many Akwapim are Presbyterians, and the Methodist denomination is strongly represented among the Fante.
The Roman Catholic Church is fairly well represented in the Central and Ashanti Regions. The unifying organization of Christians in the country is the Ghana Christian Council, founded in 1929. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity/Religion and Law Research Consortium. htm). Representing the Methodist, Anglican, Mennonite, Presbyterian, 23 Evangelical Presbyterian, African Methodist Episcopal Zionist, Christian Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, F’Eden, and Baptist churches, and the Society of Friends, the council serves as the link with the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical bodies. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity_in_Africa. htm).
The National Catholic Secretariat, established in 1960, also coordinates the different in-country dioceses. These Christian organizations, concerned primarily with the spiritual affairs of their congregations, have often played social roles in the country to enhance the system of governance in the country. The religious composition of Ghana in the first post-independent population census of 1960 was 41 percent Christian, 38 percent traditionalist, 12 percent Muslim, and the rest (about 9 percent) of no religious affiliation. The percentage of the general population considered to be Christian rose sharply to 62 percent according to a 1985 estimate. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity_in_Africa. htm).
Whereas the Protestant (nonPentecostal) sector remained at 25 percent, the percentage of Catholics increased by 15 percent. A larger rise, however, was recorded for Protestants (Pentecostals) — 8 percent compared with their 2 percent representation in 1960. From being the smallest Christian sect, with a 1 percent representation among the general population in 1960, membership in the Independent African Churches rose the most–to about 14 percent by 1985. The 1985 estimate, again, also showed that the Muslim population of Ghana rose by 15 percent. Conversely, the sector representing traditionalists and non-believers (38 and 9 percent, respectively, in 1960), saw dramatic declines by 1985–to 21 and about 1 percent, respectively.
This shift, especially the increase in favour of the Independent African Churches, attests to the success of denominations that have adjusted their doctrines to suit local beliefs. 24 There was not a significant link between ethnicity and religion; however, geography was often associated with religious identity. The majority of the Muslim population was concentrated in northern areas as well as in the urban centres of Accra, Kumasi, SekondiTakoradi, Tamale, and Wa, while the majority of the followers of traditional indigenous religions resided in rural areas. Christians lived throughout the country. (http:/ www . nifcon. anglicancommunion. org/ghana. htm).
Generally, the population is made up of adherents of African traditional religion, Christians, Muslims and more recently, pockets of religions and sects of Eastern origin. However, Christianity, Traditional religion and Islam are the three dominant religions. According to the 2000 population census, Ghanaians are predominantly Christian, with more than two-thirds (68. 8%) of the total population claiming to be Christians. Muslims are the second largest religious group with 15. 9% followed by practitioners of Traditional African Religions with 8. 5%. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity/Religion and Law Research Consortium. htm). Pentecostal and charismatic churches are reported to be the fastest growing denominations in Ghana. Approximately 6. percent of the population does not affiliate itself with a particular religion. Other religious groups include the Baha’i faith, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Ninchiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai, Sri Sathya Sai Baba Sera, Sat Sang, Eckankar, the Divine Light Mission, Hare Krishna, and Rastafarianism. There were also some separatist or spiritual churches that included elements of Christianity and traditional beliefs such as magic and divination. Zetahil, a practice unique to Ghana, combines elements of Christianity and Islam. There are no statistics available for the percentage of atheists. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity/Religion and Law Research Consortium. tm). 25 The dominant religion in the Ashanti Region is Christianity (77. 5%) followed by Islam (13. 2%). The proportion of Christians is higher than the national average (68. 8%), while that of Moslems is lower than the national average (15. 9%). The proportion with no religion is however relatively high (7. 3%). The region has 36 Traditional Councils, each headed by a Paramount Chief. The Traditional Councils are the decentralized units of administration by traditional rulers and are used to mobilize the people at the local and community levels for development. The traditional head of the region is the Asante King (Asantehene), the Otumfuo.
All the Paramount Chiefs in the region are members of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, with the Asante King as the President of the house. The main language spoken in the region is Twi. Several festivals are celebrated in the region, the major ones being the Akwasidae and Adae Kese. These are religious festivals celebrated by some members of the Akan ethnic group to which the Asantes belong. The festivals are celebrated to remember past leaders and heroes. Though they are dead, their spirits are believed to be alive and taking interest in the affairs of the living, watching their doings and consulting with them particularly, at ‘Adae Kese’. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity) The Kumasi metropolis alone accounts for nearly one-third of the region’s population.
In the Kumasi township, different sects of Christianity, Islam, Buddhists and adherents of African Traditional Religion often vie for greater levels of influence among the populace albeit overtly or through more orthodox means like Evangelism, Crusades, Festivals, etc. 2. 7 African Traditional Religions African traditional religions, also referred to as African indigenous religions or African ethnic religions, is a term referring to a variety of religions indigenous to the continent of 26 Africa. Like ethnic religions from other parts of the world, African religious traditions are defined largely along community lines. Traditional African religions involve teachings, practices, and rituals that lend structure to African traditional societies. These traditional African religions also play a large part in the cultural understanding and awareness of the people of their communities.
While African Traditional Religion and Christianity defer in many ways, some main similarities exist, including: • • • • • • A distant “all god” with intermediaries acting between us and him. Spirit or god possession The gift of offerings and sacrifices to the gods The use of altars Ancestor veneration Community leadership by a divine or semi-divine king or queen. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/Christianity). Religion may be a difficult word to define, however it becomes even more difficult in the context of African Traditional life. Ethnic religion is not easy to define. It has sometimes been called ‘primitive religion’, but the word ‘primitive’ has a pejorative tone and is inappropriate.
According to Parrinder (1962), religion lies at the root of African culture and it is essential to African life. The reason for this lies in the fact that religion is so allpervading and soul-absorbing in Africa that there is scarcely a sphere of life activity which is not influenced by it. It gives inspiration to artists and craftsmen, to farmers and hunters, to rulers and subject, to historians and drummers. It motivates politics and legislation, upholds authority and comradeship, and ensures social stability in times of war and peace. Mbiti (1975) buttresses this position that religion is formal in all areas of human life. It has dominated the thinking of many people of different origins, particularly 27
Africans, to such an extent that it has shaped their cultures, their social lives, their political organization and economic activities. Ancestor veneration is a practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. All cultures attach ritual significance to the passing of loved ones, but this is not equivalent to ancestor veneration. The goal of ancestor veneration is to ensure the ancestors’ continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living and sometimes to ask for special favours or assistance.
The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values like filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. While far from universal, ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ancestor_worship). 2. 8 African Traditional Religion In Ghana Despite the presence of Islam and Christianity, traditional religions in Ghana have retained their influence because of their intimate relation to family loyalties and local mores (social rules prescribing behavior of individuals in a society, which, if violated, result in strong disapproval or punishment).
The traditional cosmology expresses belief in a supreme being (referred to by the Akan as Nyame, or by the Ewe as Mawu). There are also the lesser divinities that take “residency” in streams, rivers, trees, and mountains. These divinities are generally perceived as intermediaries between the Supreme Being and society. Ancestors and numerous other spirits are also recognized as part of the cosmological order. (http:/www. wikipedia. org/wiki/religion_in_ghana. htm). 28 For all Ghanaian ethnic groups, the spirit world is considered to be as real as the world of the living. The dual worlds of the mundane and the sacred are linked by a network of mutual relationships and responsibilities.
The action of the living, for example, is believed to affect the gods or spirits of the departed, while the support of family or ethnic ancestors ensure prosperity of the lineage or state. Neglect, it is believed, might spell doom. Veneration of departed ancestors is a major characteristic of all traditional religions. The ancestors are believed to be the most immediate link with the spiritual world, and they are thought to be constantly near, observing every thought and action of the living. Some ancestors may even be reincarnated to replenish the lineage. Barrenness is, therefore, considered a great misfortune because it prevents ancestors from returning to life. (http:/www. wikipedia. rg/wiki/religion_in_ghana. htm). To ensure that a natural balance is maintained between the world of the sacred and that of the profane, the roles of the chief within the state, family elders in relation to the lineage, and the priest within society, are crucial. The religious functions, especially of chiefs and lineage heads, are clearly demonstrated during such periods as the Odwira of the Akan, the Homowo of the Ga-Adangbe, or the Aboakyir of the Efutu (coastal Guan), when the people are organized in activities that renew and strengthen relations with their ancestors. Such activities include the offering of sacrifices and the pouring of libations.
The religious activities of chiefs and lineage heads are generally limited to the more routine biweekly and annual festivities, but traditional priests–given their association with specific shrines–are regarded as specialized practitioners through whom the spirits of the divinities may grant directions. Priests undergo vigorous training in the arts of medicine, divination, and other related disciplines and are, therefore, consulted on a more 29 regular basis by the public. Because many diseases are believed to have spiritual causes, traditional priests sometimes act as doctors or herbalists. Shrine visitation is strongest among the uneducated and in rural communities. This fact, however, does not necessarily suggest that the educated Ghanaian has totally abandoned tradition; some educated and mission-trained individuals do consult traditional oracles in times of crisis. (http:/www. ikipedia. org/wiki/religion_in_ghana. htm). 2. 9 Characteristics Of African Traditional Religion Religion is formal in all areas of human life. According to Mbiti (1975), it has dominated the thinking of many people of different origins, particularly Africans, to such an extent that it has shaped their cultures, their social lives, their political organization and economic activities. In an African Temple or shrine, a worship might be characterised by libation, incantations, sacrifices, aspersions, medicinal rubbings, consecration (of food, amulets, priests, mediums), communion, all of which might be performed amidst drumming, singing and dancing.
Akoi (1970), indicates that, in the course of these, a person might fall into a trance or begin to talk strangely and even prophesy-a phenomenon which was often strongly indicative of a spiritual visitation and promoted religious fervour amongst worshippers. 2. 10 2. 11 General Similarities Between Christianity And African Traditional Religion Creator God According to Boafo (1908), a common ground can be found in the area of how the universe came to be (cosmogony). Both Christianity and African traditional religions 30 have creation accounts. In Christianity, Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, and an alienation of humans from God resulted. With this, alienation from an originally given right relationship of humans with God, death, both physical and spiritual, entered the world.
In most African traditional religions, the Supreme God dwelt close to humanity until humanity offended God. The offended God departed and chose to dwell far away from the reach of humanity. The Supreme Being in most African Traditional Religions is seen as the creator of humans and all other things. This Supreme Being is viewed in different forms and dwelling places, yet he is the almighty. He is often distant from humans because of some bad actions of humans. There is much discussion among African theologians and missionaries alike concerning whether or not the creator God of various African Traditional Religions is Jehovah God. Some Bible translators have chosen to use the name Creator God and others have settled on Jehovah or simply God.
With Christianity, God rules by his divine Son and through governments, and family heads. But in traditional religion, God rules through lesser gods, ancestors, and families. Both religions believe in a Supreme God who is the creator. This Supreme God is also benevolent, a helper and a deliverer. God in both religions, rules by delegated authority. (Ebenezer Boafo, Communicating The Message About Jesus To African Traditional Religionists, 1908). 2. 1. 2 The Presence Of Evil Humans are often believed to be the battle ground between evil and good forces in the world. Humans can also call upon evil forces to punish or persecute wrong doers or 31 enemies.
Special functionaries have the greatest input into the forces of evil but all people can wield it to a lesser degree. The two religions claim that the universe is inhabited by spiritual beings as well as physical beings. These spirit-beings are both good and bad. In addition to the Supreme God, both religions acknowledge the existence of a head of the evil spirits who is a personal opponent to humankind and is notorious for rebellion and destruction. In Christianity, this evil one is known as humanity’s accuser, Satan. 2. 13 Unseen Realm African Traditional Religions divides the world into the seen and the unseen realms. Existence is lived in wholeness of those two ‘realities’. (http://www. afrikaworld. net/atrcom. html). The two realms nteract with each other. Some personalities have lived in both realms more than once. People can move into the unseen realm during dreams, visions, or trances and, of course at death. There is constant communication between the Seen and Unseen. Most African Traditional Religions have functionaries who communicate with God and the spirits on behalf of individuals and the community. This does not negate the ability of individuals to communicate with the unseen. These functionaries are trained, initiated , and in many cases, from a bloodline that has a special window into the unseen realm. Communication takes many forms. Chief among them are prayers or incantations.
In Traditional religions and Christianity are specialized ministers who administer certain functions for the people they serve. Christianity has prophets, pastors, priests, priestesses and elders, while traditional religions have priests, priestesses, and prophets. Sacrifice for sin is an important theme in both religions. In African traditional religions, sacrifices are human beings’ attempt to turn back evil, or to bargain with God or divinities. (http://www. afrikaworld. net/atrcom. html). 32 2. 14 Emphasis On Community Some would say that family is at the core of African society. Family is indeed emphasized. Society is broader than that. It is composed of friends, age mates, and relatives.
Not only does each member of the community have a defined role to play, but there are responsibilities to each other that when transgressed bring about judgment from God or the other spirits. Both religions recognize the important role of the family as the basic unit of society. The family nurtures the individual and offers the individual a sense of community. (http://www. afrikaworld. net/atrcom. html). 2. 15 Covenant God has made covenants with humans on several occasions. Some of them include the biblical figures of Abraham, Jacob and Muhammad of Islam. The legendary priest, Okomfo Anokye, in African Traditional Religion, is believed to have been in covenant with God for which he was given special powers and abilities to play h