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


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.’
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Essays on Ghanaian Philosophy – EA Ammah Essay1 Ghanaian Thought and Philosophy

E. A. Ammah, “Ghanaian Philosophy,” The Ghanaian (October 1961, November 1961, December 1961, January 1962, February 1962, March 1962, April/May 1962, June 1962)

NOTE: Beginning in the October 1961 issue of The Ghanaian and continuing in monthly installments through June 1962, E. A. Ammah published  a lengthy essay, “Ghanaian Philosophy.”   The essay is remarkable not only for its analysis of Ghanaian thought but for its comparative discussion of other religious traditions throughout the world.  Although E. A. Ammah titles his essay “Ghanaian Philosophy,” his exposition is an exploration of Ga philosophy as revealed primarily in kpele hymns.   He identifies and discusses three Ga schools of thought: (1) God’s School of Thought, (2) the Son of God (Awi Tete) or the Wisdom School, and (3) the Sceptic School of Thought.   In comparing Ga thought with other traditions, E. A. Ammah draws upon a variety of sources including The Bible, articles in The Hibbert Journal (a liberal Christian periodical published in Britain 1902-1968), notable scholarly monographs of the 1920s and 1930s,  various encyclopedias, as well as Islamic, Indian, and Buddhist teachings. Marion Kilson

The essay is reproduced on this blog in 4 parts – Ade Sawyerr


Ghanaian thought
Why go to ancient Greece,
And other far off lands,
In search of golden fleece,
‘Tis here, these Ghana stands.

October 1, 1961, the date on which the University of Accra was born, marked a great turning point in the intellectual and cultural history of Ghana and also of Africa as a whole—a renaissance or revival of knowledge.

To borrow the words of Henri Bergson, “it is the customs, institutions, even in language, that the intellectual and cultural acquisitions are deposited; they are then transmitted by unceasing education from generation to generation, from mouth to mouth.”  It is by this way that Ghana was able to build up its cultural heritage of which we are very proud.  An aspect of our intellectual culture is philosophy or “notion of the universe,” nature, man, and God.

Three in One
Ghanaian thought unlike Greek, but like Hindus, is three in one, and one in three, namely, philosophy, religion and science.  It must be remarked in passing that Indian “religion and philosophy are one”, and that, “For India, then, there can be no real conflict between science and religion, between religion and thought” (J. H. Tuckwell, Indian philosophy, an appreciation. Hibbert Journal, October, p. 10).  This is exactly the content of Ghanaian thought; the sole difference is that, India stresses pantheism, while Ghana upholds theism, God’s transcendence or revelation.

These pages discuss what Ghanaian philosophy is about.  But to start, it is deemed important to know the present situation as to the place of philosophy in the West.  We are told that, “there is no agreement among philosophers, and no one who can speak with authority on its behalf,” that something should be “done to galvanise philosophy into some sort of meaningful activity and to bring it into relation with the problem of life,” then professional expounders of philosophy…may see it would [be] to the advantage alike to themselves and of the world to make philosophy socially useful.”  Having examined the role of science, Dr. Schiller says, there is “the need for something more than science, namely for a comprehensive or synoptic treatment that will combine the partial views of the various sciences and will instruct us how to think of reality as a whole, and how we can read a single coherent sense into the whole of our experience.”  Showing the relevant sphere of philosophy, the learned Doctor writes, “here then is an important task, an indisputable domain, to which philosophy might devote itself.  It has always claimed to be concerned with the whole” (see Has Philosophy a Message, Hibbert Journal, July 1938, pp.595 and 597).  This is exactly the concrete and coherent  “message” Ghanaian thought is to deliver “to a world wearied of constant change” (Percy Dearmer, Christianity and the Crisis, 1933, p. 65).

The time is opportune that Ghana should speak for herself and also for Africa as a whole.

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