Just when we thought the plummeting cedi, soaring fuel prices and World Cup scandals were the worst storms gripping our nation, another lightning bolt struck at Ghana’s heart.
The disappearance of beloved hiplife performer Castro and his companion Janet Bandu could not have hit harder at the worst of times; the situation has left thousands nationwide hoping and praying for the best but fearing the worst.
It is in times like these that people turn to spiritual mediums and religions for the answers that man cannot find; seeking comfort in the mysteries of the divine in the face of death and the unknown. But it is also a time for introspection, a national moment not only of silence in preparation for the worst of outcomes, but of insight into the place faith has in our country.
According to therichest.com, a popular website that compiles news stories, facts and stats into a tight ‘top ten’ format, Ghana places number 1 on its ‘The Top Ten Countries With Most Religious People’ article, just after neighboring rival Nigeria.
‘Ghanaians have been described as the most religious nationality in the world with an estimated 96% of them claiming to be actively religious while only 2% were non-practicing. The rest were split as to their beliefs.’ (Quote from therichest.com). In a global 2006-2008 Gallup Poll survey into the importance of religion to the populations of the world’s nations, 94.5% of Ghanaians answered ‘yes’ to the question, ‘is religion important to your daily life?’
Over the past two weeks, there have been stories of religious leaders and practitioners vying for the nation’s attention; from the ritualist who nearly drowned trying to bring Castro back before being rescued by a passing canoe to the members of the New International Church, who have vowed to begin a valiant 24 hour prayer vigil to save the performer, to the ‘Prophet’ Dr. Yiadom, who claims to be withholding knowledge of Castro’s whereabouts that he refuses to release to the public until being acknowledged respectfully by Castro’s grieving parents.
Controversy and superstition sweep the land, carrying tales of esoteric deities wedding the two missing persons in underwater kingdoms and Castro himself prophesying his own disappearance in his hit song, ‘She Dey Do Me’ like a fetid stench.
Meanwhile the search for two missing persons has gone on in vain for more than a week now, leaving authorities and a few search parties with nothing but unsubstantiated myths and thin leads.
I fully understand the need for a religion in a person’s life. It gives one a sense of purpose and security, guidance by a higher power that will adore, protect and teach his believers all throughout their lives, eventually rewarding the good and punishing the wicked.
Religions give people hope, strengthen their resolves with faith and provide comfort to mankind against death with the promise of paradise. But it is these very things that have damned religious populations to terrible acts of war and ignorance in the past, that blind people to the world below the cloudy foundations of their Deities paradise.
Their respective beliefs in their positions as God’s chosen ones have damned Israelis and Pakistanis to centuries of war, where discussions of important matters have always been poisoned by undercurrents of religious rivalry. Muslims and Christians alike have slaughtered millions before the eyes of their all-compassionate higher powers in Crusades and Jihads over the course of history.
The point I make is that it is time we all placed our rosaries back into the spines of our Bibles and cupboards, rolled up our prayer mats and began to take steps towards recovering one of our nation’s most beloved sons.
Let us hear of search parties marching relentlessly along the shores of the River Volta, of diving teams joining the good people of the Ghana Police Services Marine Division in their intensifying search for the missing duo.
Enough with the fervent medicine men and the ‘Prophets’ in their shiny suits and bombastic church services. It is time we as a people begin to search in earnest, over every sand dune and muddy bank, watchful eyes fixed on the choppy grey waves of the surrounding lakes that run through our beautiful country.
If we, as one of the world’s most religious nations, with all the deities in heaven by our side, cannot truly commit ourselves to finding the bodies of Theophilus Tagoe and Janet Bandu, we not only cast a shadow of doubt upon ourselves as a united nation, but upon the faces of the very Gods we toil ceaselessly to venerate.
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