Essays on Ghanaian Philosophy – EA Ammah Essay2 – The 3 Schools of Thought: God’s, Son of God, and Sceptics

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God’s school of thought
The God’s School of thought has various hymns which expound [a] synoptic view of the universe as a whole; but we have selected three for the purpose of this thesis.  An interesting and satisfying point   which is held and enriched in each stage of advance in thought is that our thinkers steadily maintained and vigorously defended the Sovereignty of God—each recital mentions the name God—Nyonmo.  The words of the first hymn are:

Earth life man life God,
And earth life.

Asase nkwa lomo nkwa Nyonmo,
Ni asase nkwa.

This hymn which forms the twilight of Ghanaian thought covers four important themes: earth, life, man and God.  It could be realized that the four themes mentioned, or the hymns as a whole have passed the age of speculative concept into the concrete stage of coherent, stable thought.  Earth is, life is, man is, and God hath life in Himself (John 5.26).

The recital makes it abundantly and factually plain that the earth is charged or pulsated with life inert and magnifies or elevates and designates man as Lumo,  Lord, ruler or duke, and as it were, attributes life to God, while man is designated Lumo, lord of creation.  The earth and God are in [a] qualitative sense equal—all possess life—and are therefore co-eternal, but the mere mentioning of God makes a very big distinction in cosmic meaning, more than Professor Alexander’s notion of ‘towards Deity.’

The thinkers of the second stage made a far-reaching contribution to knowledge—scientific and theological.

The hymn is:
Earth life God life man
Earth energy which sustains us,
But God is Elder.

Asase nkwa Nyonmo nkwa lumo
Okremedu amo ni kuraa wo
Ei Nyonmo dzi Onukpa.

Earth Sustains
The first line balances what was not stressed in the first hymn; namely, life is man.  God in this present hymn—the first line seems to have no ‘life,’ the strange thing is, earth is still charged with life.  The second verse of the second hymn contains a new term—Okremedu amo—for earth, this word raises scientific thought or knowledge. Du is a short form of Adu, God, and amo is also a short form of Lumo, heat; so the earth is now thought to be energy or energetic or life force, dynamic.

The thinkers (philosophers, scientists and theologians of highest level) did not stop there, but added that it was the energetic earth that sustains us.  We are told that ‘all the substance of earth, and all the eternal energy are derived from the sun.’ (Great Design, p.95)

These great thinkers imputed divinity to matter, therefore, theological.  In the domain of theology, Okremedu amo is nothing less than God’s immanence in nature.  Herein lies the depth and value of what was earlier postulated as ‘one in three and three in one.’

The most sublime contribution or discovery made by the philosophers of the second stage was the emphatic stress on the Sovereignty of God as the ultimate ground of all existence.  The last line of the hymn says: But God is Elder, Ei Nyonmo dzi Onukpa.  This is God’s transcendence. (Onukpa actually means Head, Boss, Senior.)

It could be observed that the first hymn attempted equating God with nature or ‘a nisus towards deity,’ but the second hymn makes [the] definitive, qualitative distinction that God is Elder, though [He] is immanent in nature.  It is interesting to note that, “the conception of divine immanence, so influential throughout most of the nineteenth century is giving place to a renewed emphasis upon divine transcendence” (J. S. Boys Smith, The Sovereignty of God and the Dignity of Man, The Hibbert Journal p.205).

Krause terms the immanence of God in nature and the divine transcendence which the second hymn upholds as “Pantheism.”  In some intellectual spheres the Supreme Being is termed “mind” or “a really existent Ideal…such an Ideal must be conceived as not only higher but richer and fuller than the emergent quality of deity” (Professor Lloyd Morgan, Emergent Evolution [1923], p. 203) and Mary Heath Stubbs in her article, Taking Time Seriously (Hibbert Journal October p. 122) replies that such an activity is the creative spirit itself.  The Alpha and Omega, beginning and end of all things.

The Professor’s Idea
As the thinkers or students of the third stage gained more knowledge from the book of nature, they, as it were, reached the culminating point of the highest thought on the synoptic vision of the universe as a whole.  The relation of the earth to man and to God, the relation of man to the earth and to God, and finally, the relation of God to the earth and to man.

This comprehensive view is expressed as:

Earth life looks after man, looks up to God
Earth-energy it is, that sustains us
But God is Elder.

Asase nkwa lome kwe Nyonmo
Okremedu amo le dzi moni kuraa wo
Ei Nyonmo dzi Onukpa

The synoptic vision of the universe attained by the thinkers of God’s School of Thought is unbeatable in any of the three main branches of knowledge: religion, science and philosophy.  Humanly speaking, it is, as Professor Lloyd Morgan put it in his Emergent Evolution (p. 203), “the richest reality that we know lies at  the apex of the emergent evolution up to date.”

This view is sustained by some that, it may draw upon a Being beyond human measure!  Burnett Hillman Streeter also writes in Reality: a new correlation of science and religion [1926], p.140.”  The creative principle must be higher than the highest, richer than the richest, more full of life than the alivest of all things it has produced.”

Supreme Being
This makes the last hymn meaningful.  The first verse is expressive of dual functions, namely (a) the earth with its pulsated life looks after man; i.e., man derives all his subsistence from matter or nature.  This is an indisputable fact.  But the ending and valuable point is (b) that though the earth looks after man, the source of its strength or vitality is from God.  Man depends on matter and matter in turn depends upon God.

The second line lays more emphasis on the activity of energy, it confirms and deepens the sustaining work of energy by the two terms Le dzi, it is It; no more “that;”  that is supplanted and more energized, not in quantity but in quality, [a] progressive thought it is.

The last line introduces [a] new term —Nyampon, God.   Nyam, bright or glorious pon, as now conceived in Ghana, is big or large or supreme.  Nyampon, therefore, is glorious Supreme Being.  ‘Kupong,’ ‘kopong,’ ‘pong,’ ‘bong,’ and ‘bonga’ are said to mean ‘spirit.’

‘Bong,’ the root word is said to be ‘an appellation for God, and seems to have designated God as an invisible spirit (see J. H. A. Ebrard, Apologetics: or The Scientific Vindication of Christianity, Vol. No. 1, [1886] p. 132).  Nyampon on this view, therefore, in origin may mean Glorious Spirit.

Our philosophers did not attempt showing what life is.  All that they experienced with their “natural reason” was [that] life permeated all things and that the prime source of this life profusely emanated from God, that the innate or “eternal” energy of the earth was derived from God, that by or through that “ingrafted” life energy was able to look after man (kwe lomo) and also to sustain us (kura wo).

This led them to say that, but God (Glorious Spirit) is Elder.  The thinking applying the term to say that, but God is superlatively significant.  Here Streeter’s view on life is relevant.  “For that which knows is homogeneous with that which is known.  And what we do know about life is its qualitative character.  If the life is a representative expression of Reality, the qualitative knowledge we have of life in its richest form (i.e., in personality) is up to a point knowledge of Reality.”  (See Reality, p.140.)

Self-sufficiency
Having established the fact that it is the earth that sustains us, but God is Elder, we know turn to man, designated in kple hymn as lumo and Afadi respectively.  Lumo, according to the Rev. Carl Reindorf, means “priest,” now corrupted to Lumo (i.e., king or governor )(see p. 35 of his History of the Gold Coast and Asante [1895]).  Afadi  means “self-sufficient.”  In the context of which it is used in the three songs, it implies (great man) lord of creation.  He came to the scene when everything had been already prepared for and bestowed upon him by God, herein lies the value of afadi (self-sufficient).

“Philoin’s answer to a question why man was created last, replies that God provided previously all things for him not merely to live but to live nobly.” (Samuel Angus, The Mystery Religions and Christianity [1925], p. 72.)

It is of great interest to note and amazing to see reflected in all three hymns which propound the view of the God’s School of Thought on the universe, the doctrine of man [is] as a microcosm of the macrocosm.

Why ‘Man’?
Here again, therefore, “the recognition of man’s greatness is not a mask of arrogance, but brings with it the humility which only the sense of responsibility can arouse…In fact, deny this greatness to man and there can no longer be any meaning in a spiritual theory of the world; for man’s very capacity to understand it would thereby have been removed” (J. S. Boys Smith, The Sovereignty of God and the Dignity of Man, Hibbert Journal, p. 210).

The thinkers of the God’s School of Thought expressed man’s humility and indebtedness to the -earth, when they warmly acknowledged that it is the earth that sustains us, the humility deepened into man’s utter littleness in the presence of God who is Elder, a Glorious Spirit…“all things proceed from God and exist in Him, but they are not all equally expressive of his nature in which quality must be essential” (Reality p.141). What transcendent Glorious Spirit, Nyampon!

The thinkers of the God’s School of Thought were not in any way concerned with the question of creation, because they were not present when the universe of which they formed [an] integral kingly part was created.  All that they knew and believed to be true was that, they, like any other thing or being, were a product of the universe: kple kewoba.

Their sole quest was to find out the intrinsic qualitative form of essence of the reality of the universe as a whole.  Humanly speaking, they reached the highest level of their thought.

They discovered that “The conception Spirit, the ultimate Reality, as transcending all form is the most emancipative of all philosophical conception.  It gives a change of direction to the quest of ideal truth, which makes it as fruitful as the intellectual quest barren.  It tells us that if we would know things as they are, if we would bring the appearance of things into harmony with their reality, we must transform ourselves, we myst clarify our mental vision, we must widen our mental horizon, we must live into our own depths, we must live up to our own heights, we must make ourselves more real.  For it is to self, as a whole that Spirit as formless Reality, reveals itself, and the more real the self, the clearer the vision and the more adequate its conception of reality.” (Edmond Holmes, The Headquarters of Reality, Hibbert Journal vol. xxix No.1, p. 127)
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Son of God’s school of thought
The Son of God’s School of Thought did not dispute the great and factual, intrinsic qualitative real attribute or appellative for God as Glorious Spirit.  Using the same word Nyampon  (Glorious Spirit) they deepened and magnified and dignified it as: “He is what He is in Himself.”  And using [an] impersonal term, they proclaimed “Existing long, long ago, existing. (Aye moomo Aye.)”

These brave thinkers came to the highest level of man’s concept that, when this timeless and Formless Reality speaks, earth has no voice, and man can, but listen.  “He uttered his voice, the earth melted,” (Psalm 46.6), or “to him that rideth upon the heavens of heaven, which are of old lo, he doth send out His voice, and that a mighty voice (Psalm 68.33, ref. Psalm 29, Job 37. 4-5).”

They interpreted the mighty voice in operation as the word of God or wisdom of God: Awi Tete, first of God’s creation; thus making He that rideth upon the heaven of heavens, which were of old, nearer and more real to men!

In his book, The Teaching of Islam [1896], Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad writes: “In short, unless Almighty God reveals Himself by His spoken word to his Servants as He reveals Himself by His work as witnessed in nature, a rational persuasion of His existence which is the outcome of an observation of His work, is never satisfactory (p. 63).”  “The Eternal Invisible God has eternally made Himself known by His own clear and blessed voice, ‘I am’, and thus has invited His frail creatures towards Himself that they may seek their support of Him” (p.64).

God, according to the philosophers of the second School, objectified His External subjectivity by Awi, word, the first of God’s creation, as to the time of this first tremendous spiritual immanence of the selfhood of the cause of causes.  First cause, a Kple hymn has it: Ade boa de yene, time unknown.  From Awi, we get these words Awie, it was spoken, wie speak, wiemo speech, word, and language.  It is interesting to know that, in Indian religion, Adi means first or beginning.  This makes Awi  meaningful or valuable.  Awi ([the] full name is Awi Tete) in Ga naming system means first Awi Tete, therefore means first word or the beginning of creation.

Awi is conceived by the second thinkers as sun or light hidden by a cloud (La ni atatu etsi ehie).  This concept has a Jewish parallel expressed as:  “The visible presence of God as indicated by Shechinah, a bright and glorious white light usually concealed by a cloud, but on special occasions, as in the case of the Shepherds at the nativity and the appearance to St. Paul on the Damascus Road, visible in all its glory” (A. R. Stedman, The beginnings of the Christian Church, p. 10).

On this basis, in essence of nature or personality (with apology to Christian theology), the Son is equal to God, or in the words of St. John, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14.10).  As to time, the Son is inferior to the Father.

This brief theological dissertation, namely, essence, etc., leads us to the two great and most important contributions of the Awinic School of Thought to knowledge as a whole.  They are cosmology and worship or religion.  These were conspicuously lacking in the notion of the God’s School of Thought, whose prime mental outlook was philosophical and scientific: the ultimate ground of existence, and the qualitative significance of forms of matter, man and God.

A quest which was sought and—amply rewarded—found!

The first contact between man and God (note: God was the Initiator) was the beginning of religion.  It was a supreme and tremendous moment, more than what Professor Otto described as mysterium tremendum et fascinans, the luminous otherness, in which [the] preponderance of [the] suggestive element of worship is more stressed against the expressive feature. (See Liturgy and Worship. Edited by W. K. Lowther Clarke, p, 13.)

God and man
The meeting brought God and man together and, each as it were, knows each intimately; hence kpele (kpee,meeting, le , to know) , herein lies another meaning of kpele ( kple, all-comphrehensive) or in other words, “The union of heaven and earth, of God and world, in the inmost core (Awi, the word), or the presence of God in our midst” (See The Mystery of God by Wilhelm Stahlin, p. 18).

The contact was not only expressive, but also impressive.  The important part of it is that it evoked a response—an attitude of approach on the part of man—worship, and what the Awinic thinkers felt is described in kple hymns as:

Awi lo,               person knows person.
Awi                   is called before dancing/praying.

Awi lo me lo me.
Awi atseo ni adzao.

    Me lo me is an old expression, meaning in modern Ga, mo le mo, “person knows person.”  The hymn gives meaning to worship or religion in its social depth or inmost or intrinsic value: meeting between man and God.  In the contact, man knows his fellow man, mo le mo, and both of them call or contact through the expressed image of His Son, Awi, in dance or prayer.

The Awinic School could not express the effect of the contact more than this.  It is here that Canon Quick’s remark on Professor Otto’s view becomes relevant.  He says, “The divinest goodness can make no impression on a human soul unless the soul is able to express some goodness in response” (Liturgy and Worship, p. 15).  And Dr. Percy Dearmer supports the Socio-religious character of worship  in Christianity and the Crisis that “Worship is a fellowship with God and with man.(p.286)

Here it is not necessary to be reminded that the central figure in our Socio-religion is God, through His Son, Awi Tete, who is called upon before dancing or prayer.  Awi Tete is equal to the Christian view of Jesus, the Son of God.  It is therefore, not relevant or correct for Westermann to remark that “but religion as an institution is social and serves social purposes.” (Africa and Christianity,       p. 103).

First Son
Speaking about Awi Tete, the Son of God, being a central figure in our religion leads us to an attribute central point in the teaching of Islam.  The following is worshipped and obeyed Holy Quran (Lix: 23).

A commentary on the text is: The idea of a partner with God is negatived because if God had a rival, His Divinity would be liable at some time to pass wholly to His rival.  Further, the words ‘no one deserves to be worshipped, but He,’ signify that He is a perfect God.  Another attribute is, God is the “knower of His own person.” (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Teaching of Islam, pp. 72, 73).

The fundamental belief in God as the prime Author of all things that live and move and have their being is universal.  No religion has ever equated the first cause with anything in heaven or on earth.  He is supreme, Elder or Onukpa or Mawu, or who is above everything visible or invisible.  But this human concept of God does not limit Him in the region of Absolution or Deism.  God, since man apprehended Him as a Supreme Being, is related to the universe.

It is not the nature of God to live alone.  His perfect nature is to have a partner hence the universe: Heaven and earth and the sea are God’s partners, these express His infinite (complete) Supremacy.

The first principle that makes God relative is “His own clear and blessed voice.”  This ‘blessed voice’ which reveals the Invisible God to man as “I am” can be equated with God.  This is the reason why we interpreted the ‘blessed voice’ as Awi, word, Son of God, through whom the universe was created, who is called upon before worship.

Awi Tete, the Son of God, is God’s Partner in a sense.  It is God’s pleasure to share His essence and glory with Awi Tete, this does not mitigate or lower our concept of God as Mawu, Being above all things or beings.

We have seen that all three Schools of Thought proclaimed God’s transcendent character—i.e., “beside whom there is none” (Ghulam Ahmad)  This ultimate attribute is the quest of science, religion and philosophy.  Science, we are told, consists in the classification of facts, and the recognition of their sequence and relative significance (Everyman’s Encyclopaedia [1920] Vol. II p.248).

Perfect Expression
About religion and philosophy, it has been observed that “Theology, in the comprehensive sense of the name embraces so much of philosophy as is concerned explanation of the world in terms of a supreme mind and spirit with the being and attributes of the Deity and His relation to Nature and man and with the grounds and the limits of knowledge as to such matters….” “The greatest of all philosophers have dealt with these problems and it has often been from the side of religion that great thinks have received their chief impulse toward philosophy.  Moreover theology and philosophy are largely identical in that theology is essentially metaphysics.” (Ency. Brit. Vol. 22 pp.61 & 62.)  To conclude, the goal of science “is the complete interpretation of the universe.”  This, Ghanaian philosophers in ancient times have been able to achieve, based on intuitive knowledge or revelation.

As we have already noticed, in their attempt to interpret the universe, we are happy to reiterate that, they discovered that, “the idea is that God from eternity has about Him, that is, has had in Himself, a word which was perfect expression of His Being, lies at the basis of creation in all its parts, and that it is the bearer of a divine self-communication—to the created world, and especially the bearer of His self-communication….to men.” “The divine fullness of life placed in the Logos began its self-communication by way of revelation by enlightening the reason and the conscience, and it does so till this moment.”  “The divine descent of man consists in God’s having implanted in the earthly material….a germ of life from His own being and nature….from the eternal Pneuma.”

“It was further noticed that, another set of thinkers arose who said, ‘We must not, however, overlook that this speculative view of the transition from God to the world, and his relation to it, is not…. the only one.  The older and simpler view…which needs no Logos for the creation of the world, but ascribes it directly to God the Father and leaves Him to rule and govern His world which the same directness is found alongside with it’” (See New Testament Theology, by Dr. Willibald Beyschlag, translated by the Rev. Neil Buchanan, [1895] Vol. II pp. 98, 100, 433 &436).

Author of Peace
Another great intuitive or revelational discovery caught by our thinkers is that besides God being the source of life and light, He is also the very embodiment of peace.

A recital is:

The Infinite carries peace,
Peace encircles,
Peace comes.

Opere tere omanye,
Manye shra,
Manye ba.

The second line—manye shra, Peace encirclesmay mean Peace environs us, or by or near us or walks about us.  In the end it manifests itself; it comes and forms [an] essential part of our way of life, as another recital has it:

Peace brought us.

Omanye ke wo ba.

In other words, we are [the] product or, more precisely, the children of peace.  That peace is [the] characteristic basis of our culture or philosophy of life is revealed in the response to our greeting or salutation—Omanye abla bo, may peace encircle you or be bestowed upon you.  This marks those who  practice kple religion as a tolerant people.

With this integral philosophic way of life, each philosophical development is whole heartedly accepted and incorporated in such a wonderful way, that those who hold and cherish the existence of God as Sustainer of he Universe, and doubters or agnostics or sceptics sing any hymn together and share their theological doctrine and scientific, systematic knowledge and philosophical concept, without rancor, misgiving, polemics and demur.

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The Skeptics school of thought
This brings us to the third School of Thought—the furious and bold thinkers—the sceptics.

“Scepticism or the philosophy of doubting has two main ideas: (1) that to arrive at truth one must believe everything to be false until it is proved to be true—a denial of the primary instinct which is to believe the opposite; and (2) that human knowledge can never arrive at truth—a denial of objective knowledge.” (See Everyman’s Encyclopedia, [1920] Vol. XI, p. 232).

The words of the hymn which form the basis of our philosophy of doubting are:

No one knows the beginning of God,
No one knows the origin of the earth,
No one knows the origin of the gods,
No one knows how it is done creating,
No one teaches the origin of king,
No one teaches the origin of kome,
No one teaches the origin of long ago.

Moko lee Nyampon dzeeh,
Moko lee shikpon shishi,
Moko lee wowei ashishi,
Moko lee boni afee akebo,
Moko etsoo mantse shishi,
Moko etsoo kome shishi,
Moko etsoo dzeenmo shishi.

This negative recital had caused great setback in acquiring knowledge on many important matters worth knowing, and is causing the same havoc to this day.  It contains important philosophical studies: (1) the Being of God, (2) Natural Science, (3) the being of gods, (4) creation, (5) the State, (6) religion, and (7) history.

The first four lines concern God and the world, the last three lines concern man and his environment on earth.  The former affirms man’s utter ignorance, and the latter implies availability of knowledge, but one is constrained or restrained not to teach or to make public.

“The philosopher” Plato says, “is the man who takes [a] synoptic or comprehensive view of the universe as a whole.”  Signficantly enough, this negative recital covers [the] comprehensive notion of the universe as a whole, it shows the the length and breadth, the height and depth of the thinking capacity or ability of the earliest Ghanaian great thinkers.

The hymn does not indicate the spirit of contradiction or reaction to dogmatism, or “conflicting systems each of which could establish one point that all his rivals were wrong” (Ency. Brit. Vol. 20, p. 918).  What it postulates is the spirit of investigation, based on irenic activity and henotic certainty, the most important point to be noted is that, the emphasis is on the notion that “human knowledge can never arrive at the truth.”

“Irenic” is an adjective, a Greek word, meaning, peaceful, pacific, and “henotic” is a Greek term signifying serving to unite, unifying.  This gives realistic value to the balanced thought of the disputants.

From the look of things, the disputants or sophists conduct or “dispute” any subject-matter in a calm and persuasive atmosphere, without offending anyone.  The method of “disputing” any subject-matter is like this: “A” recites a hymn, “B” sings another to support it or complement it. Example “A” recites a hymn “Kings hold their State (or country)” mantsemei hie ameman:  “B”accepts it as historical or political fact; “B” responds it: “the people are the nation”, man dzi man.  “A” does not dispute it but accepts it as a fact of political evolution.  “C” sings, “I went to the world of the gods”, mitee womei adzen, “D: replies, “we are living before the gods came” woye dani womei ba.  This is the way or method of “disputing” any question or problem relating to the main branches of knowledge.

Theirs is not like showing eloquence, rhetoric, success or victory in “dispute” but to accept as fact or truth and complement it.  This reaction and counter reaction counter or counter balance indicates that “in systematic thought there is no final form” (H. R. Mackintosh, Some Aspects of Christian Belief, [1923] p. 176).

An important point to be remembered is that there was no special set of peoples marked as “disputants” or “sophists”; all the singer or reciters were and all were not.  This is paradoxical.  The place or school where “dispute”  is conducted was (1) in the Temple’s Court and (2) at the dancing place “surrounded with ascending rows of seats as a seeing place or theatre….which was opened only on the Lord’s Days” (Eastman, Art and Life of Action p.36).  Eastman’s description of the dancing place kpletsoshishi and kple view is exactly alike, kple recital says Akwo madzi ni akweo ame.

The “school” at the Temple’s court is restricted to the Temple’s Choir, though any person or persons who may be there and are “learned can take part  or attentively listen and learn from them.  The “school” at the dancing place, kpletsoshishi is public, for high and low, rich and poor, the course of instruction takes place at the public or corporate worship on the Lord’s Day.  The course covers three specific days—within two weeks, namely, first Tuesday, second Tuesday, and the third Tuesday.  The course of instruction consisting of kpele singing, drumming and dancing.

 

God, He is’
There are no special pupils or students so earmarked.  The intelligent spectators who had come to take part in the public worship learn their lesson, unknown to their “teachers” by hearing, seeing or observing any of the “subjects” of which they are interested.

Having discussed the method and manner of “disputing” a subject-matter, the place or “school”, and the means by which the “students” acquired knowledge, we now turn our attention to examine the texts of the sceptic hymn.

The first line of the hymn, “No one knows the beginning of God,” suggests that the question or problem of the Being or attributes of God—Elder—as conceived by the earliest thinkers, was raised as not being exhaustive.  So a better and appropriate attribute, befitting the “One who is the ground of all forms of our experience, emotional, moral and rational” (G. F. Selwyn, Essays Catholic and Critical [1926] p. 125) began to agitate their minds.  These latter successors reviewed the current idea of God and took another synoptic vision of the universe and recited that “God, God He is (Nyampon, Nyampon Le ni edzi).”  (i.e., He is that which He is of Himself.)  Further, they justly proclaim, “Existing long long ago, existing. (Aye moomo aye).”    “I am what I am.”  All these profound thoughts touched the eternity of God.

Klewi (a bird of the swallow family), an angel or sage, promised to unfold the mystery of the Being and the beginning of God.  He entered space en route to God’s “dwelling place,” he flew so many many millions of miles into space, the further he flew, so an unaccountable distance receded, so he said to himself, “the distance ahead cannot be penetrated; the distance covered from the earth is too great, it is no use making further attempt.  I had better retrace my step.”  So Klewi, the Angel/Sage, returned to earth without finding or reaching the abode of God.  The outcome of the intrepid but fruitless adventure to space is the following hymn:

God Great God,
God most Great,
Klewi  goes to call God and come.

Nyampon akese Nyampon,
Nyampon Akesetswi,
Klewi yaabe Nyampon ni eba.

Thus the above mentioned recital uttered by Klewi, the Angel/Sage, forever settled the Being and the beginning of God.  He is unsearchable.  No one knows his beginning.  Our knowledge of Him, therefore, is incomplete.

We are happy to report that the experience of our brave and bold thinkers is adequately and firmly supported by modern great thinkers that “we can never attain a completely synthetic view of what God has revealed Himself to be….Such a simple and simultaneous knowledge of what God is must exist  in God Himself” (Ibid, p. 126).

The second dictum of the no one knows series is: No one knows the origin of the earth.  This has reference to natural science.  The summarized current idea was that “it is the earth that sustains us”.  This view was never challenged, but was accepted as a scientific fact or explanation of the intrinsic quality of the earth, shikpon.  It is no wonder that they suffixed “kpon” to “si”.

It is to be remembered that God is known as Nyampon, the earth is termed shikpon, the attribute of the earth is “Afrieye Okropon, gbe nta, bisa. ( great and good earth, at cross-road, ask.)”

What seemed to be linguistic confusion, “kpon” or “pon” as suffix to both God and man, placed the “disputants” or sophists at the cross-road of knowledge, so they asked “is God and the earth qualitatively equal?”

It was a great question.  Critically and impartially and thoroughly considered, the “no one knows the origin of the earth” was viewed by those who applied the term pon to God and earth respectively as an extension of the “no one knows the beginning of God,” or psychologically [an] association of [the] idea.

In other words….”anything that is discovered by or presented to the Self is psychologically objective” (H. Osborne, Foundation of the philosophy of value, [1933] p. 25).  Or what in modern aspect of thought is known as Identity philosophy.  They therefore concluded that, “God speaks, earth has no lip.”

Origin of gods
The third line, “no one knows the origin of the gods,” raised by the sceptics, touches the very root of our religio-philosophy.  Though they were sceptics as to the quest, or real nature, of knowledge, they unshakeably believed in the existence of one Eternal God, and so the presence of the gods in the monotheistic life became a problem.

We need not remind ourselves that till now, our great thinkers taught and preached monotheism in the Temple’s court and at the dancing place, that God was One and Eternal, but “no one knows His Beginning,” and that His relation to the world was through Awi Tete, His first or the only Begotten Son, who is called upon before dancing or praying.

Awi Tete, “the most High in the glory of God”….(Gloria in excelsis, English Prayer Book) was the only Being known, but whence [came]  these lesser beings that had come to rob Awi, the son of God, of His unique and unrivalled place in the divine glory, in worship and in the apprehension of God?

Identical ideas
Whence these intermediaries who are attributively described and held to be guardians, messengers  of God or waters?  As we read the religious and philosophical history of India, we are forced to conclude that some of our great thinkers had some knowledge of Indian thought or both had identical ideas about the attribes of Awi, the Son of God, and gods, wowei.

Ga has Awi as the first or beginning of creation;  India has Adi as “the beginning or the first.”  In Ga wowei, gods are guardians.  In India “Adityas are called sons of eternity and the Watchers” (see Apologetics Vol.11, p.147).

If Aristotle were alive or had known Ghanaians in his time, he might have been “led to describe Ghanaians as a philosophical race and as the descendants of the Indian philosophers” (see Rabbi Dr. Isaac Herzog Greek Culture and Judaism October Hibbert Journal, p. 52).

A hymn showing the relationship between the gods, males and females, is:

The gods we know, we hold them,
And fearing them guard us.

Womei le o, wohie ame,
Woose ame, yibu me.

Another one, showing the spheres of the angels, declares:  “I went to the world of the gods.  (metee womei aden.)”  This hymn is attributed to Numo Lomoko, the last and greatest prophet of the Ga people.  Another one which is an answer to the origin of the gods among men is: “we are living or existing before the gods came. (woye dani womei ba.)”  This reminds us of Plotinus’ saying that “it is for the gods to come to me, not for me to go to them.”

These hymns show the doctrine of the ministry of angels, namely that the Angels (gods) were specifically “created” by God to serve mankind, not mankind to serve them.  All that man has to say to them is “thank you” as is expressed in another impressive recital.  “The gods carry Samo, may Kwakai be thanked. (Womei tere samo, Kwakai anyado.)”

There is a hymn depicting these ministerial angels as stars (cf. Job 38:7)

Clustered stars, I went with stars,
I came with stars.

Nulami kpasaa, mike nulami tee,
Mike nulami ba.

The general “functional” duties of the gods are [as] messengers, servants and guardians.  However, it is to be noted that there are grades among them: Nai, Poseidon is the highest, the next is Kome (Sakumo), the patron Angel and leader of Ga.  Nai says, “It is God Yahweh that created me.  (Mawu ni bo mi.)”   Kome proudly asserts, “I am well off before I came (here on earth). (Mishe Nyonmo dani mi ba.)”  These spiritual beings are with God, therefore creatures of God, “or the extension of Awi, the Son of God.  For be it noted that, they do not usurp the divine status or office of Awi Tete, the most High in the glory of God.”  The contrary is, they with men, call upon Awi before dancing and praying.”  The significant part is that God is still Boo Mawu Creator (Creative) Yohwah.  In other words, “teaching…. about angels has its roots in the teaching about God” (E. Evans and T. H. Robinson, The Bible What It Is, And What Is In It p.354).

Angels’ part
We are immensely glad to record that the ministry of Angels as guardians and messengers of peace is not inconsistent with Christian (Catholic) teaching.  Part of a prayer of the Seven Prayers of Light at Vesper-Eastern Orthodox Church—reads: “Defend us by thy holy angels that, being guarded and guided by their ranks we may come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge thine inapproachable glory, who art blessed to ages of age.”

About peace, this is said in a Litany: “Let us beseech the Lord for the angel of peace, the faithful guide and keeper of our souls and bodies” (Liturgy and Worship 1932, pp. 836, 839).  Further we are told that “Angels in Muslim theology are divine functionaries who move all the powers in nature and are also described as guardians (see Towards Islam, pp. 45, 175).

The fourth line which is properly the agnostic or sceptic part of the whole hymn reads “No one knows how it was done in the creating;” in other words, the process in creating the universe.  What majestic sublime words, ever spoken, portraying God’s greatness and goodness, revealing man’s littleness and badness.

It is no wonder that a later thinker, to borrow the words of Jeremiah, described God as “thou  art a gracious and merciful God (9.13)” which in Kple is the Odumankuma, or more correctly, Odomfoo.

Who in this modern age of speed and flight (remember that Klewi flew into space long, long ago) would not appreciate the inquiring mind and daring spirit of our thinkers in seeking to probe the essence or real nature of things, limitable and illimitable.  They were wise men or philosophers, teteete niileloi (wise men of old) in the proper sense of the word.

They approached the understanding of the universe in which man forms or plays a kingly role with tolerance, skill and mutual persuasiveness to a balanced acceptable end.  Where they were not able to grasp the inner nature of things, they did not hide their ignorance behind skillful manipulation or disputation.  And above all, authoritarianism had no place in their philosophy, religion, and science.

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6 thoughts on “Essays on Ghanaian Philosophy – EA Ammah Essay2 – The 3 Schools of Thought: God’s, Son of God, and Sceptics

    1. Regina,
      My understanding is that most of the kple songs are in the original Obutu language which has provided the basis for most of the languages in Ghana. It also shows the Ga people as being polyglots and that though their primary language is Ga they are able to do business and do several other things in other languages.
      Administratively Obutu has been put in the Central Region but it still does belong to the Ga
      best regards
      Ade

      1. Understand the Politics concerning the Obutu/Awutus/Les etc. I also understand the numerous languages that have mingled in the Kple traditions, not to mention the Ga ‘Language’ itself. But what I am failing to understand it’s feature in the area of Christianity, which it is a recent phenomena. Take for instance the use of “asase” in place of “shikpon”. As simplistic as it is, it is not necessary. The Ga’s are hot-headed in other issues, why not in how there ideologies are to be conveyed??? I appreciate your work all the same… You just may well have inspired me to write an article. Thanks.

      2. Regina,
        i certainly would wish to be allowed to host your article and thanks for reading this blog. i hope that it gets more interesting when i am able to get a lot of Ga stuff to publish so a;s encourage others you know to write and send me a link

    1. I am sure that you are already missing England what with the passing of Tony Benn and the British at their best. Even those who hate his guts are eulogising him, but others more honest. this is the start of Matthew Parris – i do not subscribe to their paper so do not have a full version. Have you been able to see Charles Quist as yet — Benn’s beliefs were poisonous, Crow was a Luddite. The Left would have crippled Britain and the Right should say so
      ‘A magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner, with a strong record of public service,” said the Prime Minister yesterday on the death of Tony Benn, a deluded leftwinger who spent much of his life and endless guile working to turn Labour into some kind of East European socialist party.
      But in old age, apparently, a national treasure. “An extraordinary orator, and principled man,” tweets the Tory Chairman, of the notorious old twister; “a man of deep socialist principle,” gushes the Commons Speaker. How long before even Arthur Scargill is obituarised as some kind of saint?
      There is more to this nonsense

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