George Patton said that “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking”
I have followed the arguments and comments against construction of the National Cathedral and it is so easy to be swayed by the emotional appeal of our media into thinking that the project is a waste of national resources.
I am of the impression that some critics of the project are insufficiently aware of the prophetic, advocacy, educational and transformational role that the church as a corporate body has and continue to play towards upliftment of our societies and the state.
The church has been a watch-dog, the conscience of the nation and has given insight on the right course of actions, urged and supported right actions and praised and condemned as the case may be. A very critical avenue for social transformation which the church in Ghana has not utilized much is its power to mobilize and convene the Christian community. Where Christians in influential and decision making positions, members of Government, directors, politicians, managers, heads of institutions, business executives can be convened and realistic and well thought out Christian positions and solutions regarding various issues and problems confronting the nation can be discussed and addressed.
For a country that has an estimated 70% Christian population, building a national monument that would serve as a sacred space for governance of the nation, host state and religions functions, serve as a convening center to improve the cohesive relationship between government and religious leaders and create a visible and organic unity of the different Christian denominations in the country is long overdue.
Those who argue that there is so much deprivation in the country and want everything to be perfect before a national cathedral is considered should acknowledge that conditions were not perfect in Rome when Vatican was built. When you visit my rural community, you can write a story about the painful bumpy journey to reach there, but you know what? We are building a multi-purpose community center to convene and mobilize the community towards development and progress. The community has a litany of needs; good drinking water, quality education, improved health and sanitation, employment for the youth among others. Building the Community Centre and tackling these social deprivations and injustices are not mutually exclusive. It has always been like this in human history. As we tackle various segments of development processes, they will all coalesce into a developed society.
Construction of the Accra International Conference Center in the 1990’s to host the Tenth Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement did not come about on a silver platter as many Ghanaians considered the project unnecessary.
When the Jubilee House was being built in 2000, we heard the arguments and demonstrations against it. How could we build a state mansion when Ghana was declared HIPIC? How could we relocate the Accra Zoo from center of our capital city to site the Jubilee House there? Today it is a national asset being used by all. I asked myself today, who should have been located in the prime of the town? The monkeys and snakes or the managers of the state?
My good compatriots who think that by building a national cathedral, government is interfering in religious affairs may not be aware that successive governments have long been meddling in religious issues by sponsoring annual pilgrimages, religious celebrations and festivals, and creating whole ministries to develop Islam dominated communities. Religious bodies cannot live apart from the state and the state cannot live apart from religious bodies. There is the needs to develop a balance in a pluralistic state by creating equity (not equality) in the religious affairs of the country.
Monuments like the national cathedral in addition to its tourism potentials, will play an important cultural role in cultivating pride for our heritage and past, making us unique in the world. Cairo is known for the Pyramid, Paris is known for the Eiffel Tower, London is known for the big Ben. Ghana would also be known for a revitalized landscape of a 5,000 seater cathedral complex, expandable to 15,000 capacity and hosting Africa’s first Bible Museum.
As a nation, we need to encourage our leaders to take bold initiatives in building the needed infrastructures at all level, local, regional and national, so that our nation can develop faster than it is currently. We cannot stifle bold initiatives by our national leaders and turn around to blame them for underdevelopment of our country, then start looking for visas to travel anywhere outside Ghana.
The national cathedral offers more than a house of prayer. I cannot wait to see this national monument that would infuse religion, democracy and tradition with a heavy emphasis on Ghanaian culture.
To my compatriots who are working on the project, remember the old book in Proverbs 24:10 “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small!”
Many discerning Ghanaians are applauding this initiative silently but some can no longer wait to see it happen. To my other comrades who are not in favor of building the cathedral, one day, I would surely travel from my village to the city for a national event and I would meet you there!
God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong!
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