CULTURE AND CHRISTIANITY – A Public Lecture by Rev. Dr. G. N. N. Odonkor

This lecture was delivered under the auspices of Gadangme Nikasemo Asafo in London by Reverend G. Nii Noi Odonkor, Chairperson  of the Ga Presbytery on 18th October 2014

ChristianityandGaCulture

Introduction:

Thank you so much for the invitation to share some ideas on culture and Christianity with you. For starters I want to admit that the topic is a bit broad and so narrowing it should be the way out. Culture is a way of life of a people and religion is one of the pillars of culture of a people. Since the context is that of GaDangme I will narrow the reference to Ga Culture. The Christian faith may have its different strands but I will be making general references to it.

Topic:

For me the topic is an attempt at reflecting on –Being African (Ga) and Christian at one and the same time.

How can we be truthfully Ga Christians? To answer this I think we should be guided by two verses in the New Testament:

  1. Paul’s admonition in 1Thesslonians 5:21-22. ‘Use your judgment, hold on to whatever is really good; steer clear of evil in any form’
  2. The Great Question/Confession: when Jesus asked the disciples the question of their life, i.e. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (Matthew 16: 15)

I am sure God is posing this same question to all people at every turn of life and He expects an answer from all, the English, Americans, Japanese, Hausas, Scots, Ewe, Ga, etc.

Obviously, because of our common humanity there are things that we share with all the people but there are many things that are unique to each group. It is only by bringing our unique experiences of God together that we are able, to some extent, to appreciate what God is like?

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What is Christianity?

I was searching through a file my late father kept for me when i started secondary school. It included in the main receipts for payments that he had made during the period of the sixties and also my less than impressive school reports, a source of much aggravation during the holiday period when he sought to ground me and further pay for me to have extra classes.
I had retrieved this file from the family home the last time i traveled back home. i was surprised that there was a manuscript of a book dating back to the late 1930s that Mr EA Ammah the major authority on Ga culture had put together. I suspect that he must have been asked to review it.
I reproduce the document here for information. Scanning foolscap to A4 is not an easy task at all and it has taken me the best part of the morning to scan these 23 pages.
It is a long read, but it it a good read if you are interested in the vexed question of how the missionaries and the educated Ga sought to trample on our customs in the name of Christianity.
What comes across is that there was a conspiracy of sorts that in order for the word of Christ to be spread among the natives, it was important to turn their educated away from their culture. Sadly the same is happening today with several men of God of different sects, titles and hierarchies pronouncing on the culture of our people.
Mr EA Ammah was bold enough in 1939 to take them on in relation to our festivals and the Homowo.
I hope that other scholarly tracts would surface to inform this debate.
I also think that organisations such as Gadangme Nikasemo Asafo should bring a certain urgency to the work and help preserve some of these tracts for posterity.
Read on!!!!

WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY