Posts Tagged ‘Ghana’

How Ghana Sets and Example for the World to Follow in Religious Tolerance


Independent now for just over 50 years, Ghana has become a model for the world in the area of religious tolerance. With a population nearly equally divided among Christianity, Islam and traditional religions, it is truly remarkable how Ghanaians are both so passionate about their individual religions—celebrations are very outward here—but tolerant of others. The mantra that it doesn’t matter where one comes from or what he or she believes in—when in Ghana he or she will be welcomed and treated as Ghanaian—is something this nation lives and breathes every day.

It is even common to have a peaceful religious divide within families—traditional parents with Christian children who are happy for their Muslim cousins’ success. This harmony is evident  from the top-down as well, with a government that for the past half-century has strongly supported religious freedom. While Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are national holidays here, as they are in many countries, so are Muslim holidays like  the Idul Fitr and Idul Adhia. Because they are acknowledged and people here have a basic knowledge and understanding of another belief, there is not the fear and impending hysteria it has created in much of the world.

This is thanks in large part also to the Ghana Peace Council, which was created by the government to raise awareness surrounding the use of nonviolent strategies in response to conflict through networking, coordination and campaigning. The 11 members include the most prominent members of the Catholic, Muslim and traditional religions in Ghana, as well as some top legal and business professionals, academics and youth representatives. During its existence, this group has built an impressive track record, with one of its most important duties being to decide otherwise-deadlocked national elections. In one notable example, the leader of the group—the head of a Muslim mission—made a deciding vote against the political party he personally supported, because through deliberations with the entire group it was evident that the opposing party would better serve Ghana at the time. Such sacrifice of one’s personal beliefs for the betterment of a nation surely has a trickle-down effect, providing an example that is difficult for individuals to go against.

Ghana may have its share of problems, but when it comes to religious tolerance, it is truly a nation to behold.


No New Year’s Lull in Ghana with Africa Cup of Nations on the Horizon


Ghana's Football Team Logo

After the excitement of the Holidays, a festive New Year’s celebration, and all of the time off from work that much of the world enjoys over the last 5 or so weeks of the year, a New Year lull often follows for many of us. In America, we lament the fact that many of us won’t have another holiday until late May. That lull doesn’t exist in Ghana, however, because January means that it’s time for another Africa Cup of Nations.

Africa’s pre-eminent football (soccer for some of you) tournament is held every other January. Ghana’s Blackstars had a disappointing fourth-place finish in 2012, but they will have a chance to avenge that just one year later rather than the typical two, as the Confederation of African Football moved the tournament to odd numbered years, starting this year, to avoid taking place in the same year as the World Cup, as happened in 2010 (which ironically represented Ghana’s best ever finish in the global tournament).

The Africa Cup of Nations is indeed big news in this football-crazed nation, as there are few things that most Ghanaians consider more important than watching the Blackstars–including wives, girlfriends, business meetings, etc. Funnily enough, this is even evident in a majority of the nation’s political speeches. When late President John Atta Mills appointed ministers upon taking office in 2009, excluding some widely expected appointees, he was able to smooth his decisions over with the National Democratic Congress by using–you guessed it–football analogies. The official statement that came from the President’s office stated that Mills, as the coach of team Ghana, decides “which player plays at what time. And since this is the first half, they should give the President leeway to bring the set of players he wants to play this first half.” Later in the statement, it was noted that it was possible that the potential appointees who were excluded initially would still earn their expected posts later in his term, as “the game has just begun.”

Ghana's Football Team Pre-Match

The men the nation obsesses over…