Life in Ghana: God and money
Ghanaians express their hopes and beliefs in the slogans and slogans they display on their public transportation vehicles, especially taxis, trotros, and mammie wagons. There is no doubt that the most recurring themes are God and money. The two concepts seem to have more or less equal consideration and the slogans ‘Nyame ne hene’ (God in king) and ‘Sika ne hene’ (Money is king) compete for popularity. However, the two concepts should not be construed as competing in any way, but rather closely related to the practice of religion.
Many people around the world follow a religion in the hope that it will improve their lives, and the improvement they hope for is often financial. In Ghana, as elsewhere, there are churches that promise their faithful a shortcut to wealth. In pursuit of this dream, followers contribute as much to the church as they can afford and the only person who will surely drive a luxury car is the founding pastor. All priests and pastors are generally considered wealthy, and many clergymen trained in large international churches separate to found their own business ventures. The result is a multiplicity of churches with an astonishing variety of names.
The traditional fetish religions of Ghana place great value on blood sacrifice as a means of obtaining the desired reward. Human sacrifice was replaced by animal sacrifice, and with the advent of Christianity, the blood sacrifice of Jesus was enthusiastically welcomed. Today, Pentecostal and Evangelical churches recite ‘Yesu mogya nka w’anim’, let the blood of Jesus splash your face, and ‘Yesu mogya’, the blood of Jesus, is another common trotro message. People with red faces expect a generous material reward, but people who gain wealth too quickly are often accused of having made a deal with the devil.
Those who achieve great wealth or political power quickly are usually suspected of using hidden forces. Many people think that the successful businessman, politician, or wealthy person has been helped by black magic, cannibalism, or Satan. The popular press in Ghana often reports allegations of witchcraft and stories of ‘sika duro’ (monetary medicine) rituals in which vampires suck the blood of innocent relatives to obtain riches. The people who adopted Christianity called for active opposition to this work of the powers of darkness.
In Ghana, Pentecostal churches were the first to introduce exorcism services for the purpose of expelling evil spirits. This increased their popularity and they began to attract adherents from the main churches: Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, etc. One by one, the major churches were forced to follow suit to maintain the strength of their congregations. In the late 20th century, exorcism services were available to any churchgoer who was unlucky enough to have been seduced by Satan.
In the post-colonial era, people from Ghana and other former colonies moved to Britain and other Western countries. Either they have taken their churches with them or created new ones in their image. This has vastly expanded the options available to the passionate seeker and has helped ensure that alternatives are available to all who are dissatisfied with their current provider. However, it is unlikely that you will see ‘Sika ne hene’ and ‘Nyame ne hene’ painted in large letters on the side of large red double-decker buses that circulate through the City of London; the first would be taken as obvious and the second relegated to the concern of immigrants.