We don’t need a god as president

Posted by By at 26 March, at 08 : 00 AM Print

We don’t need a god as president


“The God of Hell should be held in loathing, contempt and scorn. A God who threatens eternal pain should be hated, not loved — cursed, not worshiped. A heaven presided over by such a God must be below the lowest hell. I want no part in any heaven in which the saved, the ransomed and redeemed will drown with shouts of joy the cries and sobs of hell.” – Robert Ingersoll

President John Atta Mills was recently quoted as remarking that “As a nation, we should know that it is God who is the president of this nation and indeed I owe nobody an apology for giving Him His due.”

Professor Mills is a man I respect a great deal. But his utterances in matters of religion are often far off the mark.

No one quarrel with any president for harboring religious beliefs. Problem arises when they appear to shove their own brand of piety on the rest of us.

No, Mr. President your god is not the president of this country; we didn’t vote for himher.

The constitution which you swore to uphold made Ghana a secular state. Secularism means that religion has no role to play in the affairs of state. If the framers of the constitution had wanted us to elect gods, they would have declared our republic a Theocracy. The president of Ghana is the president of one and all, atheists included.

This should not be too difficult to grasp. We have enough trouble in the land than to add religious palaver to them.

It is wrong for Mr. President to tell us that: “Ghanaian needed to be grateful for all the mercies granted them by the Almighty.”

Mr. President is undoubtedly an honourable man, so he should tell us what we should be grateful to any almighty for.

Is it the shocking poverty in which many of our people remain trapped? Is it lack of even the basic of infrastructures and services for our people? Is it our lack of ability to provide water, electricity and ICT services to the vast majority of our people? Or does our president expect us to dance with joy of gratitude to god when we see our people die of cholera? Or that the sight of many of our children selling or begging on the streets should make us vibrate with gratitude to our heavenly father?

Mr. President should please give us a break!

In the article We didn’t vote for god,” I wrote, inter alia, “It is barely bearable for me when I hear religious leaders say that we in Africa need divine and spiritual interventions to solve our myriads of socio-economic and developmental challenges, but it galls me to no end when I hear our elected representatives pantomiming the same nonsense.

I am neither thrilled nor amused by the spectacle of African leaders holding prayer breakfast and other useless spiritual jamborees. The sight, in fact, makes me very angry.

I find the sight of African leaders kneeling in supplication insulting, as it portrayed us as mindless simpletons incapable of solving any of our problems without external interventions – be it from NGOs, IMF or some desert gods.

If we are praying to the gods of our ancestors, that would be fine, but the spectacle of our elected leaders praying to the gods of the Jews and the Arabs is nauseating, to say the least.

Religion, any religion, is essentially the worship of ancestors. Are we Africans so screwed up in our heads that we do not recognize the irony in our supplicating to other people’s ancestors, whilst neglecting ours?

What sights daily confront us in Africa except incapable and visionless leaders jumping from one Western capital to another in search of solutions to their country’s problems?

And whenever their feet manage to touch local terra firma, they are busy scurrying around churches and mosques, beseeching the almighties to come down to earth to lead them out of the morass their crass ineptitude, personal selfishness and total lack of vision has led their nations.

We voted for people who told us that they have the answers to our economic and social woes, thus fulfilling our part of what I considered to be a contract. For an elected official to turn around and tell us that only the gods can save us is dishonest to say the least. He has broken his part of the bargain!

And why is that African leaders needed divine intervention only when they have to provide amenities and services for the ordinary people. No one sees them praying or supplicating before awarding themselves fantastic salaries and other emoluments!

It look like a serious scam to me when an elected politician turned around to tell me that he requires divine support in order to do what he claimed he could easily do when he was canvassing for my vote. The sight of African presidents on bended knees supplicating to a god to come and solve their nations’ problems is repulsive to me.

Do we need the involvement of any almighty god to grow the food that we eat? Do we need the angelic intercessions of any goblin of the sky to solve our erratic water and electricity supply problems? Do we need to bend knees and pray before we can provide adequate telecommunication services? Do we need any god to tell us to desilt our choked gutters and clean our dirty streets?

Let anyone come forward and cite for me an example of a nation that has attained economic development through divine intervention. This is a challenge. Is it by any co-incidence that the only country in the so-called holy land that has attained a high level of economic development is secular Israel?

When Jehovah was purportedly leading them in useless nomadic trek across the Palestinian and Arabia deserts, the Jews were starving. And they did not stop starving until they took to science and technology. It was not their knowledge of the Torah but their embracing modern sciences that enable the Jews to turn their desert into blossoming oasis and become net exporter of food!

Our leaders will do well to tell us the simple truth that we are deluding ourselves if we believe that some gods are coming down from the sky to solve our problems for us. What have we gained, as a people or as a nation, from all the endless spirituals pyrotechnics that are daily deluging us? What have we benefited, tangibly, from all the charade being perpetrated by shameless charlatans pretending to stand between us and alujanah?

I have lived in societies where human beings are decently feeding, clothing and housing themselves without appealing for divine intervention! I have lived in lands where human beings live in comfort with absolutely no spiritual intercession whatever. And, if anything, history tells us that it is only those lands that banished ignorance and set the gods strictly aside that have improved their physical environment and material well-being. Correct me if I am wrong, please!

Methinks that it is time we give the gods a break. By endowing us with immeasurable mineral resources the gods have certainly done their best for us. As a great African writer once put it, “The gods are not to blame.” We have no one but ourselves to blame if we continue to wallow in poverty because we refused to employ our intellects to solve purely temporal problems as others have done and continue to do.

While the rest of humanity is making giant strides creating the things to make life more comfortable, our lives continue to be ruled by ignorance and superstitions. We still belief the fiction that bad lucks are caused by witches and wizards and could be banished by olive oil. In this age and time, spiritual leaders still have the audacity to tell us the ignoble lie that a god created a devil to torment our lives, and that that devil could be expelled by bathing in sea water! We must certainly be the last species of humanity that still belief that barrenness could be cured by reciting some psalms and the tying of a talisman around a waist!

What is particularly galling is that our rulers continue to live far and above the poverty line they set for the rest of us. Or do our dear presidents go to bed on empty stomachs? Do they and their families lack the facilities to cater for their health? Or when was the last time our dear leaders slept in darkness or failed to make an emergency telephone call?

If our dear leaders enjoy all these comforts without divine intervention, they have no business pulling wool over eyes by asking us to beg a god in order to enjoy what is considered basic in most of other countries.”

See: We didn’t vote for gods

I have no problem with anybody spending all is time supplicating to a god, what I have issue with is for my elected president to tell me that he has given the governance of my country to a god. I have big problem with a president that has turned the governance of my country to a phantom in the sky.

Our president is a full professor and we expect more critical appraisals of things from those who have benefitted from a higher education. Should our lives continue to be guided by faith in spite of historical facts?

One of the galling things I see whenever I visit any of our universities is the way and manner the places have been turned into prayer camps. Our tertiary institutions have been turned into glorified Retreat Camps.

It is all good and jolly to have faith and believe in god, but the question remains: how do we get people to do critical thinking when they believe that they have a god who is answer to all things? How do we get people to think at all when they have decided to put all their faith in Jesus? How do we expect people to look for solution when they have been bathed in the blood of Jesus? How on earth do our graduates expect to compete when they lack the ability to think outside the box?

Rather than our leaders to waste time in useless parleys with the robed rogues we call ‘men of god,” they should rather hold conference with our scientists, engineers, technologies and technicians.

It is sad that in this age and time, our president still think of nothing to insult with call for prayers. I challenge the president to tell us where a people’s problems have been solved by a god. He should tell us what single thing we have benefited from all the prayers we have sent to almighty. He should tell us a single problem that could be demonstrably solved by prayer.

Practical problems call for practical solutions. It is time that our leaders stop insulting us by their constant adjurations to the goblins of the sky.

I have always point out in this column that I have lived in societies where human beings, using their brains and brawns, have solved earthly problems without beseeching any god.

I often cite the example of The Netherlands which is a much smaller country than Ghana – in both size and population. The Dutch reclaimed much of their land from the sea and they have built awe-inspiring technologies to protect it. If the Dutch are anything like us, the sea would have long swept them away. The Dutch are among the people who are said to support our budget. The question we ought to start asking ourselves is what exactly is wrong with us?

What is stopping us from using our brains to solve our own problems instead of waiting on gods and donors? Are we not endowed with the same brain like those on whom we are depending?

Let me give two examples where we do not need the intervention of any god before we help ourselves.

First, we can solve the problem of filth in our cities if we make our children do general cleaning on Sundays, rather than waste their time listening to fabled stories of a desert god in churches.

We should feel ashamed of ourselves that our people are still dying of cholera.
Cholera is a simple sickness that is cause only by un-hygiene conditions. Many parts of our cities and towns are simply eyesores. The only thing lacking is the will to tackle the problem head on and solve it once and for all. And I don’t think that this should be too daunting to require any god or donor support.

Our children should simply be mobilise to do the cleaning. They are already learning all the theories of environment science and all that, they need only practice what they are being taught. The syllabus should be changed to make practical works count for more that the theoretical part. In no time, we will begin to reap the benefits.

Secondly, there is no nation on earth that has solved its electricity problem by appeal to any god.

Luckily for us, we don’t have to invent any wheel; the science of electricity generation and distribution is already well known and they are widely available. We can solve our electricity problem if our president challenges our engineers to come up with ideas that will utilize solar, thermal, wave and other types of energies.

There are even Do It Yourself manuals on the internet on how we could build solar panels and wind mills. http://energyforearth.net/default.htm, http://www.earth4energy.org/.

So, rather than our president wasting time telling us about putting any god in charge, he should assemble those with the capabilities to get together and look for solutions to our energy problem.

Our president should visit our universities and laboratories rather than waste precious presidential time in churches.

We need our African Renaissance and the time is NOW!


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and ModernGhana, and Correspondent for the New African magazine, Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the Man and Machine Coordinator at Alaye Dot Biz Limited, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
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