Opinionated musings… The National Cathedral – an issue of misinformation, miscommunication, or miseducation?

There are times when the back and forth over the proposed national cathedral plays in that theatre of my brain like some court room drama. The intransigent arguments and the digging of heels in line with how the other understands the project. The naysayers have some valid arguments which most often also seem to lean towards partisan positions, bible interpretation or economic arguments underlined by one of Ghana’s favourite nomenclature – “prioritisation”.

In all the back and forth, there seem to be a missing connect. What really are the constituents of the national cathedral? Is it just a church building to satisfy the desire of the President to erect a symbol of appreciation or thanksgiving to God for all God has done for Ghana? After all as a famous latin proverb says, “a man without a religion is like a horse without a bridle”.

Unfortunately, I am not good with religious arguments and like Abraham Lincoln, my concern is not whether God is on my side, my greatest concern is to be on God’s side. So I will stick to the economics of the cathedral and the possibilities I envisage or imagine.

Composition of the National Cathedral – Just a church building?
The Cathedral will be situated on 14 acres of land. Previously made up of empty tracts of land, some unoccupied colonial style buildings and about 8 houses used by judges who have since been relocated to new houses in Cantonments. The Cathedral will house a series of impressive chapels, a baptistery, a 5000-seat two-level auditorium, a grand central hall, a music school, a theology school, choir rehearsal, an art gallery, shops and multi-use spaces in the garden which can be used for events such as weddings. It will also be home to Africa’s first Bible Museum and Documentation Centre, dedicated to Christianity and nation-building in Ghana. The museum will be modelled on the American bible museum with features such as virtual reality journeys into biblical times.

The Economics – “Prioritization and the money can be used to support the hungry”

The project is not from budgetary allocation, so all funds allocated for various projects etc in line with budget are not affected. The donations being requested are voluntary and not some tax as others alluded to. Perhaps these voluntary donations could be a precedent for national crowd funding for selected projects in Ghana. We must think about that but i digress. For those of us paying one thousand cedis for tables for parties, pageants, music contests who are against the voluntary donations, perhaps this will create the epiphany of conscience to rather transfer those monies to hungry kids etc. We will all then be on the moral high ground.

The Economics – “What is in it for Ghana.

The construction and post construction will create approximately 1,500 jobs and 700 direct jobs with over 2000 indirect jobs drawn mainly from the Osu, Jamestown, Adabraka ,Labadi and the Teshie environs. The impact on these predominantly relatively poorer communities will be immense. The use of the facilities for weddings, funerals (we like these grand) national events could create a long booking list even from Nigeria which is all mint.

Domestic and international tourism. With the introduction of the tourist buses, increase in tourist arrivals, major touristic festivals like panafest, year of return, Charlie wote etc the constituents of the Cathedral, especially the Bible Museum and just the iconic nature of the building will most likely be Accra’s top tourist pool.
Religious tourism or faith tourism has been growing in Ghana through crusades etc. As defined, this type of tourism is “the type of tourism whereby people of faith travel individually or in groups for reasons related to religion or spirituality in their quest for meaning. It could be under pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure purpose”. This is one of the fastest growing areas of tourism in Ghana and Nigeria supported by the growing number of churches. The Cathedral with its interdenominational make-up will definitely bolster this growth.

The numbers – About 300 to 330 million tourists visit the world’s key religious sites every year, according to a 2017 estimate. Some 600 million national and international religious trips are made around the world, generating around US$18 billion in global revenues from religious tourism alone per annum. Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Benin and Ivory Coast are considered among the top countries for religious tourism in Africa.

What I imagine
An open bus tour through the city. A stop at the national mosque which is the second largest in West Africa. A tour though this majestic mosque with all the historical and religious explanations akin to what is done in Turkey. Then drive through Ridge…the national museum then towards a completed Marine Drive…visit the old light house and Ussher Fort Prison, the Brazilian Quarter of Jamestown……visit the Jamestown Harbour now under construction and then visit the iconic national cathedral…the museum etc and have a meal in the gardens.

Its not a religious argument for me but I see infinite possibilities for this iconic structure which will completely change Accra’s bland aesthetics. I am not surprised $51 Million has been raised already. Like Captain Smart who donated cement, i will definitely donate.

Good day.


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