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World Religions in Ghana: How Religion Has Affected West Africa

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WRITTEN BY

Jay Muller
Nov 1, 2012


TOPIC
Culture, Education, Service

World Religions in Ghana: How Religion Has Affected West Africa

Andrea Davis, a liberal studies student from the University of San Diego, discusses the differences between religion and culture with Joseph, the vice president of Trinity Seminary.

Students of Barry Penn-Hollar’s World Religions class witnessed firsthand the impact Christianity has had on Ghana’s Gold Coast on their recent visit to the Trinity Seminary in Accra, Ghana.

Whereas Ghana once had a traditional African belief system in which each tribe prayed to distinct gods, the introduction of Christianity changed the religious landscape of Africa.

Our trip to the seminary began with a lecture by Joseph, the vice president of the seminary, who spoke about the history of religion in Ghana, the origins of the seminary and the current religious environment in the country.

“In the hour and a half with Joseph, we were taught everything from the origins and current details of the seminary to the modern religious atmosphere of Ghana,” said Frances Jones, an economics junior at the College of Charleston. “The seminary raises pastors for the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Evangelicalism, and African Zion sects of Christianity.”

Students were given the chance to have open discussions with members of the Seminary, which led to a greater insight into religion, and the formation of new friendships.

From there, the students reflected on the speech in an open-form discussion in which members from the seminary asked the students questions about the religious atmosphere in the United States, and SAS students asked about different cultural practices in the Ghana.

One main difference that was highlighted involves the ceremony of marriage. In Ghanaian culture, the father of the bride stands up and verbally relinquishes control to the groom, whereas, in the U.S., the woman acts independently by saying “I do.”

From here, we had lunch, which was planned to be a 20-minute affair, but became an hour-long due to the curiosity sparked in both SAS and seminary students.

“I really got to know my friend Peter,” said Fadi Hindi, an international relations junior from the University of San Diego. “His caring and friendly attitude toward me made me feel comfortable and easily opened up reciprocal communication.”

Our day ended with a tour of the campus, followed by practice of song worship sung in the native language, Chwee. Semester at Sea students were taught a common hymn that gives praise to God. They then reciprocated by teaching the seminarians the famous song, “This Little Light of Mine.”

“The seminarians conveyed a friendly love,” said Jared Davidove, a finance junior at San Diego State University. “They hold a place in my memory forever; I will surely never forget my visit to the Trinity Seminary.”

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