Conflict, identity and co-operation : the relations of the Christian church with the traditional, colonial and national states in Ghana with special reference to the period 1916-1966
Ababio, K. Effa
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A traditional State in the Gold Coast was an amalgamation of towns and villages in a given geographical and ethnic area whose people possessed a common language, culture and religion and ruled by a democratic central government headed by a Paramount chief. The colonial State resulted from the European presence which was motivated by commercial and political interests. It superseded the traditional States but did not destroy them. In their efforts to advance their political interests, the European authorities needed the help of the christian missionaries whom the traditional authorities regarded as part of European political power. The relationship between the colonial State and the Christian Missions was most prominently seen in the field of education. The missionary enterprise resulted in the planting and growth of the Church which had to relate to both the traditional and the colonial States, giving them its social and political allegiance. The religious allegiance of the Church belonged to its Lord and its refusal to give it to the traditional State resulted in conflict between the two. The Church's success in securing a degree of customary law and religious observance exemptions for christians including chiefs, was an aspect of the influence of Christianity which desacralized the traditional State and chiefship to some extent. By providing formal education, the use of the christian press and serving as a role model for African leadership, the Church proved to be the architect of Gold Coast nationalism and thus the achievement of Ghanaian independence. The Church's reaction to some of the policies of the Nkrumah Government compelled it to get actively involved in national politics while living outside party politics. The result is that subsequent course of Church-State relations in Ghana has been dictated by the events which took place under the First Republic. The Church in Ghana is the only conceivable counterbalance to the national State. The Christian Council of Ghana and the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference are a powerful instrument for the Church's actions on national issues.