Christians, Muslims urged to consider ‘Africanness’ first

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A theologian and specialist on Muslim-Christian relations, Rev Dr Johnson Mbilla, has admonished Ghanaians to first of all embrace their Africanness in order to live peacefully with all faiths in the country and on the African continent as a whole.

Rev Dr Mbilla made this call on the Eid edition of New Day on TV3 in an interview with Johnnie Hughes.

The theologian said though one may belong to different religions, what best holds and bonds all together is the sense of belonging and Africaness.

“In terms of looking at ourselves, the two religions, Christianity and Islam, they have universal connotations. In Christianity, we say that all Christians belong to the body of Christ…so we all belong to the body of Christ.

“In Islam, on the other hand, all Muslims also belong to the universal Umma and in the Umma, there are no Blacks or Whites but in spite of the universal significance of the two religions, what set us in place and our prime responsibility and that which unites us is our Africaness first, it is our Ghanaianess first. And then, our two religions come in not as secondary but as things that have to do with our spiritual focus.”

The Akrofi-Christaller Institute fellow was speaking on the back of the recent religious rancour especially in the educational sector which the country is engrossed in.

Some two brilliant Rastafarian students were denied admission to Achimota School in March and a Muslim student of the Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast was also denied her religious obligation to fast during the just ended Ramadan.

Rev Mbilla admonished that “we must strengthen our African identity in order to avoid creating labels for ourselves which may mean that we may become refugees”.

“The body of Christ has fought against the body of Christ in the past because of national identity. And the Umma has fought against the Umma because of national identity so if we take the universal aspect of religion and we are not careful, we will fight proxy wars.”

Rev Mbilla also expressed worry how Ghana used to be a model for religious tolerance on the continent, same about which cannot be said in the midst of the recent disagreement and communication breakdown between managers of educational facilities and some stakeholders.

He said the best way out of this debacle is an amicable address by both faiths, likening leaving the matter unsolved to a dirty and disorganized house which attracts scorpions.

He, therefore, called on leaders of the two religions to come together to dialogue and to “put their house in order to prevent the scorpion from coming home to sting”.

By Kabah Atawoge||Ghana

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