Republic of Ghana is located on the West coast of the African continent. There
is a population of approximately 27.5 million people, and the official language
is English. The country was formed as a merger of the British colony of the
Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory (The World Factbook, 2017). The
capital of the country is the city of Accra, located near the coast of the
Atlantic Ocean. The country was before its independence an area of colonization
by the Portuguese, Dutch, Danish and English merchants who used the gold coast
for the trading of slaves (GhanaWeb, 2017). The country has been a large factor
in the slave trade in the 18th century where the colonies of
European countries had built large castles and forts along the coastline. Colonial
powers would fight for these locations, that would function as signs of power.
These battles would also lead to certain countries to pull out of Ghana, where
the Netherlands were the last before Great Britain. Great Britain was the last
colonial power present in the country and therefore made the Gold Coast a crown
colony (GhanaWeb, 2017).
country of Ghana gained its independence from colonial power in 1957 and was
among the first African nations to do so. This switch to independence was led
by Kwame Nkrumah who saw the independence of Ghana meaningless. The rest of the
African nation then followed. This resulted in more than 30 countries to
declare its independence the following decade (Boateng, 2017). Ghana turned out
to be a frontrunner for other African countries, showing independency and a
willingness to take the first step. This followed an immigration boom to Ghana
mainly from Nigeria, which led to immigrants being 12% of the total population
(The World Factbook, 2017). Again, in the 1990’s the immigration of skilled
Ghanaians faced Ghana with problems in its healthcare and education management
and development. This wave of immigrants also resulted in a downfall for the
country, facing a severe drought and economic issues. Ghana had after its
independence been struggling with issues such as “corruption, mismanagement and military achieved growth and achievement”
(Boateng, 2017). Although, Ghana is now seen as an African frontrunner in terms
of its economy and political processes. It is interesting to see whether this
development in a country that has faced a lot of adversity have the capacity to
have a tolerance within its population towards diversity such as religion.
Ghana is a country where there is a majority of Christian citizens (71.2%), along
with a population of Muslims (17.6%) (The World Factbook, 2017). Other
religions are also present but they serve as a minority.
order to clarify how the term ‘religion’ is understood and used throughout this
project, a definition follows. One definition of religion could be the emphasis
of the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power e.g. a personal
God or Gods (Oxford Dictionary: “Religion).
is a term used in everyday conversations where the notion of what one really
means when referring to something being ‘religious’ is obvious. The
conversation usually goes on without the need for an explanation to what is
meant when saying ‘religion’ or what it means to be ‘religious’. In an academic
field, this is being questioned. What do we mean and how do we distinguish
between when something is religious and something is not? What is ‘religion’?
Due to the fact that the term ‘religion’ is regarded as being a multifaceted
phenomenon, several approaches to defining religion has been embraced
throughout the project. Approaches that though complement each other and
structure the otherwise very broad term.
one definition has not been recognized and agreed upon by academics within the
study of religion and theology, religion is by Dr Anderson suggestion in her
Ted Talk to be a term which the individual has to define for themselves (Clark & Clark, 1998),
p. 6). This is due to the fact that spirituality and religion are understood
and contains different meanings depending on who you ask and in which time and
context you ask within (Dr Anderson, 2015, 4:15-5:16 ). Dr Anderson gives the
example of some people going to church because of the music; some people like
the feeling of the mosque during prayer, etc. She states that for most people
it is not about the belief, it is about the feeling that it gives you (Dr
Anderson, 2015, 9:00 – 9:51).
could be wondering about the term ‘religion’ question the difference between
culture and religion. Is there an end to where culture stops and religion
continue? Or do the two practices co-exist in order to make sense of the world?
A philosophy of life, one could argue.
why is the culture not enough then? Why do some people need religion? An
indication of culture and religion being interdependent is from these two
questions clear. Culture and religion often interweave. Religion is a structure
that helps people to make sense of life (Berger, 1967) .
the questions asked above, one should have the impression that religion is
loaded with complexities and dynamics that overlaps the other. The existence of
these complexities is something we are aware of throughout the project. This
awareness should be emphasized in order to avoid misinterpreting the data
gathered and analyzed. The suggestion by Dr Anderson on the individual defining
religion for themselves has been embraced.
to embrace a philosopher’s position, Emile Durkheim’s definition of religion
has been embraced as it compliments Dr Anderson’s notion of a free interpretive
approach. This definition and point of departure are embraced by Emile
Durkheim, as he wrote in 1912:
“A religion is a unified system of
beliefs and practices relative sacred things, that is to say, things set apart
and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral
community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” (Durkheim,
1912, p. 34).
project has chosen to embrace Durkheim’s definition together with Dr Anderson
approach as the two regard religion and spirituality as being a system of
unification where people connect as a sense of belonging, but at the same time
let the individual choose for themselves how to define religion as it an
individual experience and feeling that it contributes as well. This approach is
yet supported by Clark & Clark where the two authors present the concept of
two ways of defining religion. One is the substantive
and the other the functionalist approach.
According to the first, religions is defined in terms of its belief content (Clark & Clark, 1998, p. 2).
Meaning that religion is centred around the belief in something supernatural
that is existing alongside the world of the already known existence of life.
This approach has been criticized to not recognize or respect the
multidimensional nature of religion. The functionalist approach, and the
approach that this project has chosen to absorb, regards religion from a rather
different position than the substantives position. As its name indicates, the
functionalist emphasis in its definition of religion on the functions of
religion rather than the content of the belief. By looking at the role of
religion in society and by looking at the ways in which religion binds together
the members of a community into one coherent whole (Clark & Clark, 1998, p.
4). This functionalist position is embraced throughout our project as we look
at how religion plays into part of people’s lives in Tamale and how they regard
religion as a practice whose existence is dependent through a social
paper will use the word tolerance in a specific sociological context. The
official definition of the term, according to Merriam-Webster the term
signifies the “sympathy or indulgence for
beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own’, it is the
‘act of allowing something” (Merriam-Webster, 2017). In this case, the term
is used to describe the personal allowance for Ghanaians to live in a society
where there are different opinions, political orientations, religious beliefs,
and race. It is used to outline the amount of grant the citizens of Ghana
express towards factors of society and life, that does not necessarily have a
complete match with how their life is shaped.
using the term tolerance in a religious context, it is referred to the idea
that religious belief is not establishing a basis for conflict within the
population. When mentioning religious toleration, it is referring to the notion
that Ghanaians are living in harmony side-by-side, without letting a different
belief or a direction of life conflict with their own. The term is used to
outline how the citizens are allowing different beliefs into their society and
not letting it affect how they treat or perceive one another as a member of
that specific belief, but rather as a fellow citizen of Ghana.
regards to religious tolerance, the German theologist Gustav Mensching draws a
distinction between formal and contextual tolerance. In his work ‘Tolerance and
truth in religion,’ he refers to formal tolerance as the state where other
religions are accepted in terms of simply letting them be and coexist (Yousefi,
2010, p. 104). This does not imply the appreciation as an enrichment though,
amongst other reasons it could also emerge out of indifference. Formal
tolerance often occurs in countries’ constitutions in the form of freedom of
belief as well as in the UN Charter which is an agreement following the United
Nations conference in San Francisco (1945) (UN, 2017) (Yousefi, 2010, p. 104
f.). The common reasons to postulate and support formal tolerance are the
non-enforceability of vigorous belief, the human right which is freedom of
worshipping a God and the Christian love that forbids going after others for
holding another belief (Yousefi, 2010, p. 105).
contextual tolerance, however, goes beyond just letting various and different
beliefs coexist and does include the positive recognition and appreciation of
them as another religious opportunity to encounter the holy, positive and true
appreciation of that other belief is expected to be the result of contextual
tolerance. Furthermore, to Mensching showing other cultures respect and
appreciation poses an ethical claim due to creating a safe environment for
subjects to develop their personal identity based on their cultural and
traditional background without needing to fear discrimination. (Yousefi, 2010,
project will thus accept religious tolerance as being the accepting of a
religious choice. The acceptance can then be argued to be either formal or
term ‘atheist’ is in this paper defined as a person with no religious beliefs
or of any connection with religious practices. It is a person that does not
believe in anything of a religious context. According to Merriam-Webster, it is
a person who does not believe in the existence of any God. One who subscribes
to or advocates atheism. Atheism, is the exact disbelief, and philosophical
position that there is no existence of a God or Gods (Merriam- Webster, 2017).