On April 14, 2018, an article was posted in the New York Times entitled
“Ghana Deserves this Cathedral, Don’t Fight It”. It was written by a Nigerian by the name of Chika Okeke-Agulu who happens to be a professor of art history at Princeton University.
The sheer arrogance of a Nigerian telling Ghanaians what to do rubbed me the wrong way. This gentleman is an art history professor not an architectural design professor, and yet, he has the audacity to evaluate a Ghanaian religious project and advise Ghanaians on what we should do about it. I would advise him to focus his attention on the myriads of problems afflicting Nigeria that have reduced it to a failed state, in my opinion, and find ways to redeem Nigeria and leave Ghana’s business to Ghanaians.
I will go through the article, dissect it and expose the weaknesses of his arguments and why Ghanaians should continue to fight the project.
For the benefit of those who did not get the opportunity to read the entire article, please visit the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/opinion/sunday/ghana-deserves-this-cathedral-dont-fight-it.html
It starts as follows:
“Last month, the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, unveiled the design for a national cathedral that the government will build in Accra.
This is a huge deal. It signals that the country is poised to consolidate the gains of decades of democracy.”
Ghana and Democracy
It is only a huge deal for Christians who have been brainwashed to reject the spirituality of their ancestors and embrace the spirituality of their conquerors who worked tirelessly to erase African culture, religions and value systems. His logic of a church “poised to consolidate the gains of decades of democracy” has no basis. Ghana has been democratic for a long time going through peaceful transitions of government after turbulent coup d’états’, and the church had nothing to do with our democracy. In other words the connection between a cathedral building and consolidation of our democracy is at best the imagination of a Christian mind where reality and truth are not important. I will like to remind him that the church does not understand the concept of democracy.
The Undemocratic Church
The churches are not run as democratic institutions but rather authoritarian entities run by oligarchies. The definition of oligarchy is as follows:
“a form of government or organization in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government/rule by the few”.
In every church or Christian organization the members have no voice in what is decided by the hierarchy of the church. In the case of the ‘One-man churches’ that proliferate in Nigeria and Ghana for the exploitation of the gullible, the owner of the church has all the ‘say-so’ and power to do whatever they want without tolerating any descent from the membership. So the connection made by the author between the church and democracies can only be made by a Christian whose life is involved in promoting Christianity at any cost without logical thinking. The church does not promote democracy nor does it operate as a democratic institution.
“And the new interdenominational Christian cathedral will inspire ambitious civic architecture projects across the continent that harness the talents of Africa’s emerging artists.”
Skilled African Architects/Designers
This ‘professor’ somehow wants us to believe that without this cathedral, emerging African artists could not embark on design of ‘ambitious civic architecture projects”.
I wonder if this knowledgeable professor has visited the Akosombo Dam at Adome which was commissioned by Kwame Nkrumah and built more than 50 years ago with Ghanaian input in the design and construction, or the newly commissioned and functional Kotoka Airport in Accra. When was the last time he visited Nigeria to see beautiful architectural buildings in Abuja designed by Nigerian architects? This shortsighted remark is an insult to the African designers and architects that are embarking on major works across the African landscape.
“Not everyone is cheering, though. Some West Africans have complained that the mixing of church and state is ill advised. They argue that it’s a worrisome case of official partisanship in a part of the world rived by religious conflicts. Others say the money for the project should have instead been invested in schools, hospitals and infrastructure — stuff that, according to them, Africa really needs. They are right to point to these endemic problems; but they are wrong to connect them with the cathedral”.
The Wisdom of ‘Separation of Church and State’ and Violent History of the Church
As one who firmly believes in the concept of separation of church and state that is enshrined in the constitution of the United States, I would like to point out the wisdom of this law.
More bloodshed has been shed by the Christian Church from the day it was founded by the Roman Empire on June 19, 325 AD under the tutorship of Emperor Constantine, the then Emperor of the Roman Empire. Constantine used the Church as a tool to conquer other indigenous people. The conquest of indigenous people by the Church-State institution did not come without cost. Many traditional religious practitioners were slaughtered for refusing to convert to Christianity, the religion of the state. The murder or rather genocide of non-conformist resistors continued throughout the Roman Empire’s bloody history even, to our time.
The empires and states that came into existence after the collapse of the Roman Empire – England, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, America – followed the massacre of indigenous of peoples. Africa was conquered using the premise to ‘civilize’ us by Christianity even though we were more civilized than the European barbarians. We taught them civilization that originated throughout Africa and matured in Ancient Kemet (Egypt) where it spread to Europe and beyond. How many African priests were murdered at the order of European missionaries and their traitorous African priests in the goal to stamp out African spirituality?
North America Genocide
The genocide of Native people in North America was committed in the name of Jesus to Christianize the ‘American Indians’ by White Europeans. Till this day their lands have been taken away from them and they have been consigned in ‘reservations’ where extreme poverty, alcoholism is destroying them. The Australian Aborigines, who are Black Africans, also suffered genocide and cruelty at the hands of English men who used the precept of Christianizing them and took their lands children and raped their women with the acquiescence of the Kings and Queens of England who were the heads of the Anglican Church, the Church of England.
South America Genocide
We call to mind the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity by Spain and Portugal that brought pain, misery and genocide of the Inca people of Peru in South America, and Aztecs in Mexico. The permission granted by Pope Nicholas V issued the Papal Bull Dum Diversas on 18 June, 1452. It authorized Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any “Saracens” (Muslims) and pagans (particularly, Africans) and any other unbelievers” to perpetual slavery to serve and worship white Christians.
The Churches’ Complicity in Genocides
Pope Nicolas decree caused the capture, killing, deaths of millions of Africans on slave routes to the dungeons of slave castles, deaths and inhuman treatment in the slave castles, death by disease on the slave ships, excruciating agony – beatings, severing of body members by slave masters, rape of both men and women, young boys and girls and so many atrocities committed by White and Mulattoe Christians in the Americas.
The Church and Racism – White Supremacy
The Protestant Churches that came into existence after the reformation continued the practice of murdering those who refused to convert to Christianity. They killed in the name of their god Jesus from Africa to North America and South America. The near extinction of indigenous people in North America caused by Protestant Church of England, a Church-State institution and the Catholic Church cries for vengeance and retribution. They labeled indigenous people as ‘pagans’ who deserve to die or be slaves to Christians.
White Christianity has sought to subordinate non-whites, people of color, Africans, to them in the name of Christianity. In fact, racism – the doctrine that white people, including Jews – are superior to Black people, Africans of color, finds its root in the Jewish and Christian Bibles as well as the Koran.
Thanks to Christianity, more than 200 million Africans were captured forcibly and deprived of their peaceful existence in Africa and were either enslaved or killed at the hands of Christian and Islamic slave-masters. For more than 200 years all, and I mean ALL, the churches participated in the enslavement of Africans. All of them owned slave plantations. This includes the Church of England whose head was the King of England and Rome through the functionaries of Spain and Portugal.
The marriage between church and state is dangerous to free-thinking people. The church does not encourage free-speech or free-thought. Instead of evidence-based critical thinking and analysis, the church promotes adherents to live on faith which does not require evidence of facts nor independent thought only conformity to its teachings and orders. The church is a tool that locks up ones brains and retards progressive thinking. Ghanaians can ill afford to continue acceptance of this dangerous Eurocentric institutions at our own peril.
Christianity/Islam and Progress/Divisiveness
It is obvious that countries like Saudi Arabia and Ghana that focus resources on religiosity are the least productive. There is little or no innovation from such countries. It is due time to suppress the growth of Christianity and Islam, and encourage the free exercise of our intellect, critical analysis, ingenuity, and innovation, especially by our energetic young people.
We know from history that religion (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is repressive, authoritarian, and tyrannical. History has shown the church to be an institution that has carried on persecution of intelligent thinkers who base their mode of living on facts not baseless faith. The church has been involved and taken sides in every one of the horrible wars that have killed many with the clergy of both sides praying to Jesus to help massacre soldiers of opposing side. Indeed, Christianity has been a tool used to conquer and subject indigenous people to White Supremacy. Anybody who thinks the church is somehow an instrument for peace and democracy has not studied the history of the church and does not know African history vis-à-vis European (white supremacy) history. No such person should be awarded a degree to teach history in any institution.
The history of the church is nothing to be celebrated. It is a sad one for Africans. The continued promotion will inevitably lead to the persecution of practitioners of traditional religion, atheists and agnostics if Ghana continues to be pushed into a marriage of Church and State. We cannot afford to have the church become an arm or concubine of the state. We are on a slippery slope when we allow President Akuffo-Addo, a president elected by the ballot to marry the state with the Church. His religion or religiosity is his personal business. He can worship as he wishes but we want him to focus on the business of the nation to which he was elected instead on wasting time on a Christian, white supremacy-promoting cathedral.
“The cathedral is the first major project in Africa by the Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, who was knighted last year for his services to his field. He is perhaps the most exciting architect in the world.”
Put Mr. Adjaye to work on Beneficial Projects
The author makes a rather weak, suspicious argument that Ghanaians should support the building of this cathedral because it is to be designed by a well-renowned Ghanaian architect. We do not question the skill and experience of Mr. Adjaye in opposing the construction of the cathedral. On the contrary, we can think of a project that we can commission Mr. Adjaye to design not only for Ghana but for all Africa. Here are a few:
How about designing a structure that will honor our African ancestors who built empires throughout Africa, who developed civilization, who developed spirituality, who fought wars to protect us, and, those Africans who resisted slavery in foreign lands and fought for their freedom in African slave dungeons, Europe, America, Arab lands, Australia, New Zealand, and those tortured and murdered by the people who committed these horrific acts, Christians, and brought us their god Jesus? We believe Mr. Adjaye would be honored to design this structure to honor African people for their struggles, successes and accomplishments instead of a building to honor a white god Jesus.
There is no doubt that if this cathedral is allowed to be completed it will bear a cross honoring the white man who created Jesus as a god in 325 AD and which symbol has been used to commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, mental genocide as well as cultural genocide against Africans. Do we want to celebrate our killers? Why do Africans love their enemies so much? What education does African leadership receive so that they are more interested in pleasing Europeans than their people?
Enduring Monuments in Ghana
“This is a remarkable thing: Ghana will get to brag about a globally recognized architectural landmark”.
Ghana already has many monuments to brag about. I can mention a few: Independence Circle, The new Flagstaff building built by ex-President Kuffour, Kwame Nkrumah’s mausoleum, Akosombo Dam by Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah.
Frankly, we don’t need a brainwashed Nigerian to tell Ghanaians what we should brag about. This statement is repugnant, arrogant and insulting to intelligent Ghanaians who are not brainwashed by Christianity.
The wide expanse of steps leading to the building makes this a veritable public space, which major African cities like Accra have lacked for too long.
Accra and Kumasi have buildings that accommodate the public comfortably. Perhaps Lagos lacks one, and I would suggest that the author considers advising the corrupt Nigerian government to spend money building structures that have wide expanse in the overly-crowded and stinking city of Lagos.
‘it will be a place “where religion, democracy and local tradition are seamlessly and symbolically intertwined,”
To the uneducated and misinformed, let me reiterate that Christianity has never had any toleration for local culture and religion. In fact, Christianity’s missionaries have promoted Christianity in every little village, town and city in Africa. The goal of Christianity is to erase African spiritual worship of our Gods and degrade the honor of our ancestors and heroes and heroines. White Christian missionaries led the charge to destroy African places of worship called shrines, and killed our African priests throughout Africa. The Churches have never tolerated ‘intertwining’ with African spirituality. Africans who refuse to worship the Christian god Jesus or the Mohammedan Allah are looked down on and labelled ‘abosomsomfo’, which literally means worshippers of devils or devil(s)-worshippers.
It is deceitful for a university professor to use his position as an ‘educated man’ to make such baseless assumptions without any supporting facts.
‘Mr. Adjaye’s firm said. I hope it becomes a model for how art museums in Africa can also be multifunctional public institutions. And this is why the criticisms of the cathedral are misplaced’.
“Instead, the cathedral, as a religious and cultural institution, will be supported by diverse segments of the population, beyond just the church and the state.”
Cathedral – A Project that promotes Discrimination
This is gross, erroneous wishful thinking. When the state builds this edifice, Christian Cathedral, with tax-payers money, without a national referendum, without input or public debate, is it not promoting Christianity over all the other religions? Is Mr. Adjaye going to be commissioned to design a ‘national’ mosque for the Moslems, or Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses? I am 100% sure that Moslems will not worship Allah in a polytheists Cathedral, neither will Jehovah’s Witnesses. These groups do not worship the Trinity god of Christendom. Yet they are Ghanaian taxpayers too.
Most importantly, will he be asked to design a place of worship for the Akan God, Onyankopon Kwame and his consort Asaase Yaa, or worship places for all the traditional Gods of the Ewes, Gas – Ataa Nyumo, Nzimas and the other cultural groups in Ghana where our priests, ‘Akomfo’, can pour libation in honor of our ancestral Gods and ancestors?
No ‘professor’, the criticisms to the construction of this eyesore of a Cathedral to promote and perpetuate white supremacy by religion are very, very valid to Ghanaian critical thinkers who love their heritage, culture, traditions, and above all, spirituality that honor OUR Gods.
This project is ill-conceived by a brainwashed President, Akuffo-Addo, a son of Akan culture, an Akyem man, who is connected to the Akyem stool. (In fact he is my distant cousin because I have Akyem blood running through my veins). I wonder if he even attends cultural ceremonies where libations are poured to honor our ancestors. I doubt it. He probably views these ceremonies with a eurocentric mindset as paganism, ‘abosomsem’.
Celebrating President Kwame Nkrumah’s Legacy
Is this Cathedral what he wishes to leave Ghanaians as his legacy?
In comparison, The Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah built industries like textile factories, cocoa factories, tomato canning factories, wireless (Akasanoma) factories; infrastructure like the Akosombo Dam that supplies continuous electricity to all of Ghana, roads and railways; Tema city, a major port for West Africa, Sekondi-Takoradi harbor; educational institutions – University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Cape Coast, Atomic Research Energy facility to produce enriched plutonium that could be used to build nuclear weapons to defend not only Ghana but Africa from the threat of white supremacy nations’ threat. (Akuffo Addo gave the last enriched plutonium away to the Chinese). I can go on and on to list accomplishments in honor of this great son of Ghana and Africa.
The thought of building a national cathedral to honor a white god would never have been considered or conceived by the Osagyefo. This is the difference between identifying priorities of the people and personal gratification for the sake of glory. This is the difference between liberated minds and enslaved minds. May Kwame Nkrumah’s name be forever revered, and may he rest in peace with our ancestors!
Ghana Does not need a National Cathedral
This Cathedral is an insult to our heritage!
“Also, there’s something worrisome about the idea that until every home in Africa gets a mosquito net, every village a school, it should not build concrete dreams and inspiring structures.’
Ghanaians need more schools, infrastructure, and hospitals etc. that are functional and serve the everyday needs of its citizens in the villages, towns and cities. We don’t need to waste money on a building that honors a white Jesus at tax-payers expense. Any second that is wasted by the president on his whitewashed european dream is time not wisely spent on the business of the country. We elected him to run a country that has great potential not build cathedrals and honor white people, enemies of Africa.
‘To rise, Africa has to aim beyond basic needs.’
There is a proverb in the Akan language that goes like this:
‘You learn to crawl before you walk’. (Of course, some babies have learnt to walk without really crawling. But that is an exception).
We need to take care of our basic necessities first. We do not need to build edifices that honor the power of our conquerors who still enslave us economically, spiritually, and politically.
Questions to Ponder on National Cathedral
I have these questions for fellow Ghanaians who blindly support this project:
After this edifice is constructed, who is going to worship in it when you consider the fact that every Ghanaian Christian in Accra already belongs to somebody’s church? I know the pastors of these churches, small and big, are not going to encourage their members to go to worship at the ‘National Cathedral’ every Sunday where they will be compelled, bamboozled, coerced and shamed into giving their ‘offerings’ instead of to ‘their’ local churches.
Are all the churches going to merge and worship there, or, are they going to keep their independent units?
Whose theology is going to be promoted at the cathedral– Evangelicals, Catholic, Protestant, Seventh-Day Adventists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Which Bible version(s) are they going to use – The Catholic Douay Bible, the King James or the New World Translation? (No, all bibles are not the same. There are various versions of it just as there are different versions of lies but only one version of truth)
What God is going to be worshipped there, the polytheistic Trinitarian God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost and their mother Mary, or, Jesus as a Black god, or Jehovah?
Most important question of all: What arrangements have been made to share the proceeds of all the ‘collections’, ‘offerings’, that I call bribes to heaven? (This is going to result in unnecessary litigation between greedy pastors whose sheep chose to worship at the ‘National Cathedral’ and custodians of the Cathedral. Since the state sponsored it, the government will be dragged into unnecessary litigation with paid government lawyers involved).
What about the other Christians in all parts of Ghana, will they and their pastors be welcomed to worship there with the proceeds, collections/offerings, going back home to support the local home churches?
Will the custodians of the Cathedral allow all the churches in the villages, towns, and other cities to worship there or is it going to be a place of worship for ‘elite’ Ghanaian Christians in Accra who happen to be cronies of the president?
I don’t believe this is a well thought-out project to promote the unity of Ghanaians. There is great division among Christians already. They do not agree on many things. A cathedral will not bring together the Pentecostals, the One-Man Churches, the ‘Azaa’ prophets, self-appointed bishops, the crooks, the thieves and thugs ‘in cloth’ who claim to be ‘men-of-god’, together with the Catholic and other so-called ‘established’ churches. This is wishful-thinking. The reason is that the churches are not about spirituality. There is no such thing as spirituality in Christendom or Islam. The churches are all businesses masquerading as religious institutions. They are all about money.
This project is ill-conceived, unnecessary, divisive, and without support from the people. It is not needed and above all, it is insulting to African culture, traditions, and spirituality.
European Spiritual Corruption vs. African Value Systems
How long are African leaders going to continue as mental slaves and accept subservience to Europeans, Jews and Arabs?
Honestly, Europeans no longer believe in the Church. European churches are empty on Sundays. They have seen through the shenanigans and deception of the church that it does not promote moral values, it is rampant with malfeasance – thievery, sexual abuse of young men and women, corruption, murder etc.
We believe that Ghana cannot afford wasting so much time and money as well as resources on promoting Christianity at the expense of our traditional spirituality that promote true human values of love, empathy, brotherhood/sisterhood, truth, honesty and so forth. These values are lost in a typical Ghanaian Christian and Moslem. Ghanaians are untrustworthy because we have turned our backs to our just gods who punish the guilty and exonerate the innocent. There is no honesty with Ghanaians. With a few exceptions, we are corrupt because of the great proliferation of churches and mosques of exploitation and absorption of vile Christian/Islamic cultures.
There is a direct correlation between churches and mosques on one hand and dishonesty of the people. It so happens that countries that continue to hold on to these institutions happen to be the most morally bankrupt. Case in point, Ghana and Nigeria have more churches in any square mile than any other countries in the world. It is said that Ghana is the most religious country in the world (this has not been verified) and yet it ranks high, very high in moral bankruptcy. I say this from experience on my recent trip from California. It makes the famous adage by President Reagan very true: ‘Trust but verify”. A Ghanaian and a Nigerian Christian or Moslem cannot be trusted, not even if he or she is your blood brother or sister. Our heads are full of the vile of Christianity and Islamic immorality.
Return to African Moral Values by Spirituality – Sankofa
Instead of building grandiose edifices to promote white supremacy, Ghanaians need to consider rebuilding the institution of ‘self’. We need to look back at our ancestral institutions that build character with traditional values and rebuild ourselves for the welfare of our African brotherhood and sisterhood.
It is time for Sankofa, a return to our traditional values embodied by our spirituality, culture and traditions.
Kwadwo Obeng is the author of the African bible: “We Are All Africans – Exposing the Negative Influence of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic Religions on Africans”. He is also the publisher of the new pan African magazine: ‘The African Heritage – Sankofa’. He lives in California and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.weareallafricans.com