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Essays on Ghanaian Philosophy – EA Ammah – Essay4 – Summing Up

Summing Up
To sum up: morality or ethics means custom or customary.  It is interesting to note that our tradition and culture have indicated all the ethics involved.
About kple hymns, the main course which constitute the gist of this thesis, Dr. M. J. Field comments, “Some songs are in Ga, some in Obutu, some in a mixture of both.  Many of the songs are in the extinct Obutu language.  It is the Obutu songs which betray the greatest number of the dead gods, and it is the Obutu songs which show the greatest interest in nature—lagoons, rivers, trees, rain, and win.  The songs which are in Ga are hardly interesting or worth recording” (The Religion and Medicine of the Ga People, [1937] pp.16, 18, 19).
The excerpts above [by Dr. Field] represent the accepted views of many Europeans.  But from what we have demonstrated in the preceding times, it can be realized that those views are not factually and wholly right or true or not applicable to Ghanaian thought.
Dr. Field’s invective view or comment on [the] Ga form of Kple songs is unfounded—based on hasty and wrong estimation—or lack of proper information.  She, like those who had maliciously spoken against the Ga people and the language and are still spitefully doing so, has done a great disservice to the Ga people.
This is nothing less than ‘persecution.’  But as the ideal of the Ga people is towards peace and unity, they by nature “take pleasure in persecution” (2 Corinthians, 12.10); “and being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it” (1 Corinthians 4.12).  And the satisfying and concrete point is that most of the hymns which expound Ghanaian thought are in the Ga language.
It is a source of pride and satisfaction and a great credit to our thinkers that their thought is reflected or mirrored in the view that “the unity of all life, the mysterious harmony of the least and the nearest with the greatest and most remote, the conviction that life of the Universe pulsated in all its parts were so familiar to that ancient cosmic consciousness as to modern biology and psychology” (Samuel Angus, The Mystery Religions and Christianity, p. x).
Metaphysics is defined as the science of the first cause, of a cause which has no other causes behind it, or the science of the ultimate principles independent of other principles.” (The British Ency. Vol. 7, p. 161) or “The one unlimited substance” (Spinoza).  This reminds us of the Ghanaian notion of the sea.  A yearly recital on the feast of the god Blafo in honour, praise, and eternal bountifulness of the sea (Bosrobo) is:  The year has come round, “the sea is not dried up (Bosrobo nke ye da).”  

Eternity of sea
This implies the eternity of the sea.  It is important to note that, here Bosrobo does not mean Nai, Poseidon, but the substance of the water.  This is in line with the view of Thales of Gond who “calls water the beginning of all things…the palpable substance of water, out of which all things come and to which they all return.”  (Historian’s History of the World vol. 4, 1926, pp. xvii-xviii.
This monistic concept of the sea comes under metaphysics.  Nai, Poseidon, “dirties the sea shores and sweeps it himself.”  This is implied in the appellative ‘Afunya’ moni woo enaa mudzi, ni le nonn ebeo.  Poseidon had identical attribute [such] as: As he gave, so he could withhold” (Ency. Brit. Vol. 18, p. 298).
But the vital point is that our thinkers—fishermen or seafaring community—did not halt at the monistic level, for Nai, Poseidon, did not claim to be the first cause, but confessed and acknowledged that “It is Yahweh that created me (Mawu ni bo mi).”  This raises their vision from pantheism, describes as “the high road to Materianism,” to the sublimest level of monotheism, God Yahweh.
It is not only Nai, Posseidon, the sea that acknowledges God as the First cause, but even the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air and insects of the field, all exclaim with one united voice, Nyampon dzi onukpa, God is elder.
Lord of creation
Kple hymns picture man as Lord of creation, (lumo) and self-sufficient (Afadi).   “God provided previously all things necessary for him” (S. Angus).  Streeter endorses our notion of man [in] that “the end of man is not just to live but to live as nobly as he can” (Reality, p. 344).  “Islam supports our view in the words: and we have made everything in heaven and in the earth subservient to you.”
A comment [on] the verse says, “man in this Qur-anic sense has been declared to be the Lord of the Universe” (See Towards Islam p. 44, 45).
Kple recitals depict Angels (womei) –ignorantly termed gods—as Guardians and Stars of heaven.  Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam express the same view.  Islam and Ghana agree that the “Angels are divine functionaries who move all the powers in nature” (Ibid, p. 45).
In the region of ethics or morality, Ghana had not been excelled and shall not be surpassed.  What ethical enunciation is of more cosmic value than that man’s brother is man (gbomo nyemi dzi gbomo)?  What morals inducement or encouragement is of more sustaining instrumental and intrinsic value than the supplicatory prayer: “Strive (Strike) may there be peace, Amen (Tswa, omanye aba, Yao)?”
Streeter has written, “Life is strife—it was Buddha, not Darwin, who first proclaimed that to the world.  But, alike in its philosophy of the Universe and in the practical conduct of life, humanity will wander down blind alleys till it grasps the simple fact that strife is of two kinds—that which creates and that which destroys” (Reality, pp. 154, 155).  We hesitate in endorsing the prior claim to Buddha, in view of our ground striking supplication which connotes that life is strife what is none, which is creative, Omanye, a desire which is inherent in man and active will to God—Omanye, peace, Unity, or as Canon Streeter puts it, Strife can create only if it be impression of love.
Canon Streeter ends the chapter on “Creative Strife” with these appreciations:
“Greece saw the vision of Cosmos, the order, beauty law behind the phenomena; the Universe the expression of mind.
“India conceived the Dance of Shiva-Shiva with Sun and Moon as eyes of the Ganges spurting from his helm dancing exultant in the flames the Universe is the expression of Zest.”
Expression of love
“India was right; Greece too was right.  But it was a deeper insight not merely a sublimer dream, that dare to say: The Universe is the expression of Love, that could see the inmost mystery of Creative Power unveiled in the figure of a man hanging on a cross for the sake of an ideal” (Reality, p.174).
We may add [that] Africa postulated that nature was friendly, that victory, success, peace should crown man’s efforts at all costs.  The Universe is the expression of Creative, Purposive Intelligent Being who ever wills to Peace and Unity.
“Strifing and desire,” we are told “are inherent in the very nature of life” (Hibbert Journal,  p. 152).  These are the two solid and unbreakable pillars upon which the ground-striking (striving creative) supplication was built by the Ghanaian adventurous thinkers, the full text of which is:
Strive, strive, strive, may there be peace, amen.
Strive, strive, may there be peace, amen.
Is our voice not one? amen.
Strive, may there be peace, amen.
Tswa, tswa, tswa, omanye aba, yao.
Tswa, tswa, omanye aba, yao.
Dzee wogbee kome, yao.
Tswa, omanye aba, yao
The peace, omanye, which is the drive or urge inherent in Ghanaian souls, forms an integral part of blessing of the people of God: “The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace (Numbers 6.26).  As a blessing for the nation, Psalm 122, 6, says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”  About peace and unity St. John writes of Jesus as saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14.27).  “That they may be one as we are” “that they may be one…that they also may be one in us,” “may be one, even as we are one” (John 17.11, 21, 22).
Every day, from morn to eve, Radio Ghana repeats or supplicates for peace.
In The Ghanaian Times for Saturday, September 23, 1961, comes an Editorial: “Nkrumah is a spokesman of the World Peace.”  The two themes which our adventurous thinkers formulate to be our ideology in our fight for life, the same themes Jesus set before his chosen people; it was first insular, but His apostles preached it and made that ideology, the property of Christians only, not the world.  The Ghanaian ideology was and is local, but Kwame Nkrumah is striving to make it (1) the property of the African, (2) and the whole, this ideology his followers have designated as Nkrumaism, ethics and politics combine into one whole or the theory or philosophy of holism.
Among other relevant points, the Editorial observes: “Indeed Kwame Nkrumah has become a great spokesman of world ideology, the ideology of Nkrumaism which points the way to happier international understanding, unity and co-operation among the nations…a new species of African…a selfless, dedicated and devoted people.”
Nkrumaism cited
“That is the mission of Nkrumaism which has had an immediate objective the achievement of African unity—of a free and united African continent paving its own way to prosperity and greatness with the torch of freedom lighting the way and with people’s determination and advance breaking through all…obstacles.”
Nkrumaism we are glad to note is not a new philosophy, the novel aspects of it is the term “Nkrumaism,” it conforms to, or is built on [the] Ghanaian pattern, strive or will to peace and unity, and an important fact is that, in the striking or “the vicissitudes of life, the individual must pull along with the group” (E. A. Ammah).  “If it reduces its uniqueness, it extends the limits of its possible development far beyond those within which [it] is confined” (John Dewey Ency. Brit. Vol. 7, p. 297).  The key to the problem of the individual mind and the group mind is supplied by Holism in Sociology, where we are the realization of the African ideology: peace and unity among all men in these words, “strive or strike, may there be peace; amen (Tswa, Omanye aba; yao),” so “that the regeneration of the harmony of creation,” and “the establishment of peace between man and animal” (See The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.  The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 1, p.106 notes on Chapter 11, v.6 ) may be an accomplished fact.
In the political field, our political [men] and statesmen evolved a political system—second to none—with theocratic background or principles.  In the sphere of logic, they set a standard which should aim at the truth rather than excelling an opponent with rhetoric[al] speech.
In the region of immortality our religious and theological professors, psychologically concluded that the essence of God-mind which is in man never dies.  Canon Streeter’s (Reality p.316) words that we must “approach the question of a future life from the standpoint of His (God’s) greatness, and not from that of our littleness and weariness, our doubts and our despair,” become meaningful and hopeful.
God is Elder
The most treasured and the greatest thought which our philosophers reached and imparted or transmitted to us in Kple hymns is that God is Elder.  It is a mark of coherent progressive thought.
Our thinkers of the three schools of thought termed the cosmic system or relation kpele or kple, all-comprehensive, all-embracing.  The God’s School of Thought began their awareness of the origin of the world with the theory of naturalism, though they did make mention of God; but the emphasis was that “and earth life” or “look upon nature as the fundamental cause of everything that exists and…explain everything in terms of nature.” (See Brit. Ency. Naturalism  vol. 7, p. 328.)  In course of years, they developed their first notion to that of cosmological argument and teleological design or natural reminded that “we are members one of another,” gives full meaning to “holistic nature of society,”  “further, everywhere the whole…holds the secrets for which we are groping in thought and conduct.  To be a whole and to live in the whole becomes the supreme principle, from which all the highest ethical and spiritual rules (such as the golden rule) follow….The whole is in fact both the source and principle of explanation of all our highest ideas” (Holism, Ency. Brit. Vol. 11, pp. 643, 644).
Whether you believe or not, Nkrumaism, the will to peace and unity, will actualize the angelic message, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men,” to a world-wide perfect realization.  And Africa, “a little child shall lead thee.” (Isaiah, 11.6)
Theology or Immanence; they used the word okremedu amo (energy), and it is this energy that sustains us.  They went [a] further step and proclaimed the design in nature proved that “But God is Elder” or “but the work of the transcendental and powerful Being who originated all things with a purpose” (Hibbert Journal, p. 330).  Here God’s immanence in His works is retained, not in spite of but because of His transcendent at in creation…it allows not only impersonal immanence by way of law and influence, but now that could stir the worthy recipient of the presence itseslf God Himself” (S. F. Davenport, Immanence and Incarnation, [1924] pp. 81, 82).  They did not stop here, but reached the highest level of thought the relation of the earth to man and to God, the relation of man to earth and to God, and finally, the relation of God to the earth and to man.  They came to a solid scientific and religious conclusion that both the earth (matter) and man derived their energy and life direct from God, in other words,
Ideas of God
The Christian rejoices in matter as an expression of the creative activity of God.  The ideas of God, the great Spirit are translated, benefit, into a language he can understand—the language of matter.  So mountains and rivers and seas, and the bodies of animals, men and women are translations into matter of the spiritual ideas of God.  Matter is not identified with spirit but bears the image of it.  To deny it as one aspect of reality is to deny the greater part of human experience” (Leslie D. Weatherhead, Psychology, Religion and Healing, pp. 180, 181).
The Awinic School grasped the origin of the world and the existence of God as a revelation, by God Himself in the person of His son, Awi Tete, God’s first “Creative act, through whom creation came into being and He imparted mind to the head of man.  We are indebted to them for revealed Theology (worship or religion) and to allow man to discover Him through his own needs, all man’s discoveries are divine revelations” (Hibbert Journal, p. 504).
Ghanaian thought or African philosophy which is described as kple—all comprehensive, is unique and stands apart from any other thoughts, Greece, or the West; India, or the East.  It holds the coherent notion that “all things are in God.”  He embraced them and is all that they are while they neither individually nor collectively embrace Him nor are they all what He is.  Another poignant supporting view is: “Since all breach of continuity between the transcendent and immanent reality is impossible and contrary to all known laws of God’s working in the world the revelation of the transcendent should intensify and transform the whole sphere of the immanent presence of the divine life of creation.  Not only does He reveal Himself as the God of Deism, but he must be conceived as ever present [to] sustain and animate the universe which becomes a manifestation of Himself; no mere machine or book or a picture, a perpetually sounding voice” (S. F. Davenport, Immanence and Incarnation pp.125, 130, 131).  Our thinkers sum up the ever rolling sounding voice with these sublimest of lines.
God speaks                               Nyonmo wieo
Earth has no lip                         Sikpon be naabu

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The Matters Arising blog is a collection of thought-provoking, thought-leadership pieces sprinkled with some blue-sky thinking on pertinent issues affecting African communities both in the diaspora and at home. It includes articles on culture, politics, social and economic advancement, diversity and inclusion, community cohesion topics. It is also a repository of the political history of Ghana, traditions of the Gadagme people of Ghana, and the Pan-African politics of Kwame Nkrumah. Read, enjoy, like, share, and join!


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