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REFLECTIONS ON OUR HOMELAND GHANA
This evening I do not have a sermon, not even an exhortation, only some thoughts to share with you as 6th March has come round again and we present our nation before God in prayer and praises.
On the lips of every Ghanaian is the affirmation that, Ghana is the only land we have, that there is no where else to run to and so we ought to learn to stay together and guard the peace of the land.We all know this for a fact, but we also know that this is not true of all the two million and more who call Ghana homeland. Never the less, the realistic and laudable approach has been to advocate and work for peace and unity at home.
FACING THE REALITY
Ghana means different things to different people. we all experience the homeland differently depending on our social location. The Ghana I experience is not the Ghana I yearn for. hear me out on why I say this, and I promise to share with you only one of things that tear at my heart strings and which I have had to put on paper under the title "A USED PEOPLE".
I live in a country of used people
People who participate in the global market
As global scavengers.
We can only afford what others cast off:
Used underwear down to braziers and belts
Used clothes, winter boots and coats in the tropics,
Used beddings and bathroom rugs and sleeping bags,
Used car parts and used cars and trucks;
Used toys and used prams and used cots.
Used NY school buses and German delivery vans,
Used bicycles and used tyres, even winter tyres
Where there is no snow.
We can only afford what others have used;
Used TV sets, used refrigerators, used cookers
And sinks and carpets.
Used pots and pans and ladles.
Used everything that the rich throw away.
Truly we are a "used people"
In the poetry book from which I am reading, the adinkra on that page is EPA (handcuffs, the symbol of enslavement)
Sunday by Sunday and in between, my prayer of intercession for the nation is the hymn of Revd Gaddiel R. Acquaah, the first Ghanaian head of Methodist Church Ghana and the minister who baptised me when I was barely half a year old. It is therefore a pre-independence prayer. a prayer written when Ghana was still under colonial rule. It is still in the hymn book of the church "Christian Asor Ndwom" The first line is "Amansoun Twereduampon, yesu bo wo awoo" He prays in this hymn that the nation on The Gold Coast" be firmly established and that blessings be the lot of all its people.
Our nation Ghana, an erstwhile colony of Britain became independent in 1957 with a post-colonial name that recalls an ancient West African empire.. When Gold Coast became Ghana it was established on the ideals of "Freedom and Justice". Till today we love to claim the freedom just as fervently as we love to ignore justice, though we dare not disclaim it and would appeal to it when we feel personally injured. Beginning from the glorious days of CPP we neglected to shout back "Justice", when the politicians excited us with the freedom slogan. In our euphoria, we shouted back "freedom" In the end without justice we found freedom being whittled away. We know what freedom without justice brings a nation. When Ghana was 50 we proudly declared that we are "Championing Africa's Excellence". God has been faithful to us and we have been faithful to our promise by having a change of political leadership that has done all Africa proud. God be praised! But there is a whole journey before us.
We have become used to wrongs.
The Ghana of my experience has become used to cheating and crafty business practices that trap the simple minded. We have become used to the allegation that people go into politics to enrich themselves and to find lucrative placements for persons of their immediate family. The Ghana of my experience has become used to bribery and corruption that undermines all rules and regulations, and breed indiscipline that enables us to build houses on waterways, and on land earmarked for roads, and to load vehicles meant for cargo with human beings, leading to untold carnage on our roads.
The Ghana of my experience is used to pulling people down, is used to conscpicous consumption, is used to lack of water and energy and substandard roads. This Ghana loves to pay lip service to the traditional cultural norms concerning family life and solidarity. All is ignored except for funerals, filling my ears with the noise of selfish strife and austentatious clangour. Our mass media present us with lawlessness and crimes. we are satiated with the sight and sound children on our streets amidst the busy traffic where unseen by us others are trafficked into slave labour within and beyond Ghana's borders. The Ghana of my experience has accepted persons in wheel chairs, persons crawling on hands and knees, and the vision impaired led by the sighted all seeking their daily bread on the streets amid 'temporarily able-bodied' vendors.
Even more traumatizing for me is the Ghana that has the tendency to gloat over the pain of others even as it prays in church. Drunk with what we see as our success, our tongues are becoming used to wild boasts, instead of standing in awe of the God of our salvation, so that we do not forget our own vulnerability.Why bring up the hurt and the disasters that have befallen others, individuals and nations if we are not going to intercede for them? I commend Luke 13:1-5 for your reflection. Search also for Jesus' answer to the disciples who asked whose fault it was that a man was born blind. These are sobering words.
The situation of our country calls for the transformation of the mind set out of which we operate.
A CALL FOR TRANSFORMATION
When challenged to work for the transformation of the mind set that creates the ethos of of our homeland that I have been trying to present, we respond with, 'That is how it has always been' We point to our past, we reiterate the idelogy of "san kofa" Going back into our tradition, our history and our culture, we retrieve for today only what confirms what we want to continue doing. It is our culture, we say, when we want to continue with bribery. But we leave the fact that we are the makers of our culture and that we have been transforming aspects of it continually. We convieniently forget that our forebears expect us to be creative so that we might straighten what they have left crooked and find innovative ways of journeying together as a people worthy of our heritage and determined to improve upon it for posterity.
For Ghana today the most urgent task is the transformation of our mind set. preachers are pointing at this , only mostly they move us with what will make for our personal advancement only. We need motivational preachers who will direct us towards the prosperity and intergrity of the whole nation. "San kofa" should mean, go back and retrieve from the store of traditional wisdom, culture, beliefs and practices, what is required for the new duties presented by the new occasions we are faced with.The hymnist James Russell Lowell says "time makes ancient good uncouth" (Methodist Hymn Book 898. See the 1933 edition . Methodist Publishing House England. All the hymns used in these reflections are taken from this edition which continues to be in use in Ghana ) Rendered in the Akan language, he is saying "tete asoe yennsoe ho bio" The resting places of yesteryears are no longer our resting places. When Owura Amu was teaching us the song about Okofo Kwasi Barima, what he was saying to us is that this confused man struggling to achieve fame should look into the past for wisdom and well being as the birds go to the fatty glands of their tail to fetch oil to preen themselves. He was saying there is a wealth of resources in our culture that can make us noble and compassionate and just. When we look back it is these things that we should bring back.
Today, Ghana needs churches that will inspire their members to have the strength not to seek to hurt the weak by deed or thought.(MHB 899) Ghana needs people who will promote ministries that enhance life and eschew all deeds of death. We are praying and struggling to become a people noble, more loving and more caring. We want to be a people glad to give honour where honour is due. we want to be a people who are ready to praise what is praiseworthy and to render thanks where gratefulness is what is called for.
A call to prayer:
Today we need to pray and work for a Ghana that is united. We need to be united across all our differences so that together we may sing the song of justice and peace and be able to rejoice in God who has held us these 52 years. We need to pray to God to purge our nation of all bitterness. While we decry sins we ourselves should refrain from indulging in them.. We need to guard our tongues against careless words and avoid cruel deeds if we cannot do the positive good. We need to eschew pride,and the inordinate ambition that trample on others in our bid to climb up. Remember Owura Amu's legacy "Yen ara asaase ni". If you are a Christian I recommend that you strip yourself of all pretences and stand naked looking at yourself in the mirror of Christ. You will never be the same again and the deed that Christ did will be reflected in how you live your life.
BUILDING ON A WORTHY FOUNDATION
Civil society and NGOs are struggling to make our nation a home where none is ignored or exploited. Women aglow for Christ meet monthly at Black Star Square to pray for the nation. The President wants people of faith to gather annually to pray for the nation. Each and every one of us is called to make each home a house of prayer. My hope is that we may realise the words of MHB 891 in our nation:
We would be in hatred of all wrong
(we would be) One in the love of all things sweet and fair
One with the joy that breaks into song
One with the grief that trembles into prayer
One with the power that makes us children free to follow truth and thus to follow God.
And while we resolve to do this we all pray together to God.
Lift from Ghana and from every nation
All that brings us degradation,
Destroy the forces of temptation'
Transform our enemies into friends. ( from MHB 894 modified)
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.
Presented on the 7th of March 2009 at a prayer session to mark Ghana's 52nd year of existence; by Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Director, Institute of Women in Religion and Culture, Trinity Theological Seminary Legon Ghana. At the invitation of Pastor Steve Adarkwa Rancho Church of the Living God.