The proposed edifice of the National Cathedral is architecturally multi-religious and inclusive in design; some parts of it remind me of the Al-Kabah Al-Musharrafah (The Black Rock) and Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque of Mecca); and then some parts of the rooftop of the artist’s rendition also remind me of a Christian Church. I readily own I could not actually clearly see the entire structure which, by the way, does not even look very impressive to me, at least the part that I saw on one of our media websites. Nevertheless, the “radical” or “etymological” concept of a multi-purpose National Cathedral, such as President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is proposing to have built at the already congested center of the Accra Metropolis may be what the proverbial Bishop or Pope – actually Doctor – ordered, but it is not necessarily an idea whose time has come, and I will let the Dear Reader on to this fact of the “Why” the construction of the proposed National Cathedral would have to be slowed down and properly thought out and/or thought through.
The idea of a “Cathedral” does not gibe or synch with the concept of “Pan-Africanism,” especially in a continent in which the percentage of Christians and Muslims may be evenly split. You see, the idea of a National Cathedral is one that perfectly works right here in the United States of America, where the foundations of the Federation, or the Federal Establishment, as we presently know it, were effectively and decidedly laid by Western-European Christians. There were Muslims, largely of West African descent, who did most of the heavy-lifting or dirty work of the Federation, as it were. There were also Jewish, Buddhist, Shintoist, Hindu and other so-called Traditional Animist Religions also present here, some even dating well before the founding of Modern America or the United States in the 1400s. One only needs to read the poetry of America’s putatively greatest or foremost Confessional Poet of the Nineteenth Century, Mr. Walt Whitman, in particular his perennial classic anthology titled “Leaves of Grass” to get a breathtaking and realistic sense of the indisputable fact of the sociocultural and technological “Melting Pot” that is the essence of these United States of America. In sum, America is veritably the total of all the cultures and civilizations of the world.
“We Are the World,” went that eclectically symphonic Band-Aid Song of the late 1980s. Here in the United States, as also pertains to Ghana, the two most actively competitive proselytizing religions are Christianity and Islam. However, unlike the case of Ghana, where even the current Vice-President is a practicing Muslim – there have been a couple of Muslim Vice-Presidents – and another professing Christian Vice-President and subsequently substantive President, who may very well have been a bona fide closeted Muslim theatrically and opportunistically pretending to be an evangelical Christian. I mean, the man chooses to spend his Christmas vacations in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, rather than in Jerusalem or any of the historically Christian countries and cities or metropolises. I guess what I am driving at here is the fact that here in the United States, the Federal Government has been able to literally get away with the establishment of a National Cathedral in our Federation’s capital of Washington, DC, because the Christian to Muslim population ratio is roughly about 100 to 6. It may be fast changing in favor of the Muslims, but it is equally significant to observe that a remarkable percentage of Eastern-European Muslims have fast been assuming a Christian identity, even while they still maintain their Muslim names.
In Ghana, Muslims are still a religious minority but a quite formidable religious minority, nonetheless, with about 14-16-percent of Faith-professing citizens among the general population. In other words, Islam is the second-largest religious community in the country. The establishment of a multi-religious and multi-purpose edifice of national convocation or convergence is not totally out of order. What is patently and disturbingly out of order is the decision by Nana Akufo-Addo to name such an otherwise progressive historical landmark as a National Cathedral. You see, there is absolutely no way of facilely getting around the religious concept of a “Cathedral.” The latter term has an inescapable Christian connotation and denotation. It is therefore dangerously exclusivist, even as Nana Akufo-Addo’s inveterate archnemesis, Dr. Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, who now shamelessly claims to be fast friends with and confidant of the man he blisteringly vilified and vigorously and very publicly campaigned against in the leadup to the 2016 Presidential Election, quite aptly observes.
Now, I don’t know whether Nana Akufo-Addo ran the far-reaching and even dire sociopolitical and psychological implications of what such a name has for a devout and actively practicing Muslim as his own Vice-President, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, before going public with the same. I would rather have the proposed National Cathedral renamed National House of Worship before construction work begins. How about the Okomfo Anokye Center (for Judeo-Christian and Islamic Studies)? Such a name would make every Ghanaian citizen, regardless of religious persuasion or denomination feel comfortably welcome to converge and fellowship there. Of course, as has been already adumbrated by the President himself, the National House of Worship or the Okomfo Anokye Center for Judeo-Christian and Islamic Studies will also be used for secular activities of sociocultural significance. I shall fully take up the question of location in due course.
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