RELIGION IN GHANA
- Upon selecting Ghana as my study-abroad destination, “country-wide” religion never crossed my mind. I expected that the aspect of religion in Ghana would be similar to America. See, in America, some people are religious, some are not, but regardless, religion doesn’t necessarily control everything. For example, many companies tailor their holiday greetings in order to be inclusive. Instead of “Merry Christmas” many will write “Happy Holidays.” However, I can confidently say that Ghana is an entirely different story. In fact, religion is extremely serious here. A large majority of the population identifies as Christian. According to a 2010 census, about 71.2% of Ghana’s population identify as Christian and about 17.2% identify as Muslim. Another 5.2% account for traditional religions (Ghana Embassy). Because of this, mostly everything in Ghana revolves around religion. Religion is a large component of teaching within the University of Ghana, which greatly contrasts teaching styles back at my home campus. Most universities, unless specifically labeled as a religiously affiliated university, are mindful about making comments related to personal beliefs, in order to refrain from offending anyone. However, at the University of Ghana, my professors speak openly about the bible, open class sessions with scriptures from the bible, express how negative and wrong abortion is based on biblical “facts,” and do not neglect to ask their students if they attended church the previous Sunday. For example, one of my professors asked me a question in class followed by “Did you go to church Sunday? The holy spirit would’ve blessed you with the answer.” I thought to myself, “wow, if he would have said something like this on my campus back at home, it could have been a really big issue.” In addition, most stores/shops in Ghana are closed on Sundays. The restaurant, laundry, hair-shop and snack store at ISH (International Student Hostel) are all closed on Sundays. On Sunday mornings, it isn’t out of the norm to see everyone dressed to impress, on their way to church service. Church, I have come to find out, is an unavoidable and essential part of the culture here. Unfortunately, I have made several “friends” who have stopped communicating with me because I did not go to church with them. I met a Ghanaian student named Joanna one night—she knocked on my door and asked if she could come in and tell me a story. I obliged, and she shared one of her favorite bible stories and asked if she could pray with me. We then exchanged numbers and every week I received invites to prayer, church, meetings, events, etc. Eventually, after constantly declining due to schedule conflicts, she stopped messaging me, and eventually stopped responding to my occasional “Hello, how are you?” messages. People openly express their love for God, and it is not an issue because most people in Ghana are religious. I have woken up at 5 am to someone yelling up my balcony about repenting my sins. In addition, trotro rides usually consist of someone preaching about the bible in Twi. It is not a surprise to see taxi’s, trotro’s, and cars with decals on their rear window saying something like “God is Good” or “He is first.” It is nice to see a population come together for something. In Ghana, religion is the glue.