Client Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Categories Conferences
Location Cambridge, MA
Date 2019
URL Launch Project

In the late 1990s, Accra became the playground for a growing competition between representatives of the Ga indigenous religion and various Pentecostal/Charismatic congregations. Refusal of the latter to submit to the Ga ritual directives in preparation for their major harvest festival, Hɔmɔwɔ, insinuated heated physical confrontations. In the aftermath of these tensions, various interfaith peace-building initiatives continue to be developed both by state and religious actors. This paper focuses on one such initiative advanced by the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) – the mouthpiece of over thirty “mainline” churches in Accra. Starting from 2015, the CCG has been organizing joint Thanksgiving church services as the crowning point of the Ga Hɔmɔwɔ festival. According to the General Secretary of CCG, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, the goal is to bring neighborhood communities together and celebrate Hɔmɔwɔ as a national day of Thanksgiving. The initiative is being advertised as a secular rather than religious endeavor, as an occasion that could create space for respect and understanding between different community members. This paper seeks to look beyond the ostensible interfaith benefits of the initiative and study its power implications.  Taking into account strong Christian overtones of Ghanaian secularism today, and building on similar Thanksgiving ceremonies organized by missionaries in the early twentieth century, the paper argues that “nationalization” of Hɔmɔwɔ festival in the context of the Thanksgiving initiative could ultimately be interpreted as another attempt of “Christianization.”