A study in the transformation and continuity of Akan religious ritual and ceremony in Gomoa, central Ghana
The study is about the transformation and continuity of religious ritual and ceremony in Gomoa, an Akan society in Ghana. It is examined partly in terms of the strong influence of a mission-connected church, the Wesleyan/Methodists and partly in terms of colonialism; especially the changing political and economic structures and their effect on Akan sooio-religious institutions and their functional equivalent.The study offers two divergent, yet Complementary examples in this process. In the first, a detailed account is given of the stool festival in five Gomoa towns, as it takes place each year between July and September, and the expression it provides of chieftainship and priesthood. The description covers rituals, religious texts and iconography. The second example, a conscious Christian representation or adaptation of the indigenous Akan chieftaincy and priesthood function as seen in an independent church, Musama Disco Christo Church, also contains some ritual texts and iconography. Some of the texts are given in full in the appendix.In the first model, we point out that the cycle of religious festivals unites participants and acts as the sanction of their loyalty, amity, co-operation and respect of one another's rights.At one level of analysis, we realize that both verbal and non-verbal acts during the religious ceremonies are an enactment of the ideas of the Gomoa/Akan about the ordering of their this-world view, and the moral reciprocal relations between classes of beings.At another level, the acts attempt to establish a contract between mortaland immortal beings. What seems to emerge when one looks at the first model, i historically, is not only the sense of links with the past, but also diversities within the present. The diversities and differences lead one to postulate two broad types of indigenous religious phenomena: truly traditional practices and 'neo' traditional developments.A further comparison between cases one and two reveals ritual similarities and differences. Both are seen to follow the models of their time and tradition. They also emphasize the emotional and rational aspects of Akan spirituality as seen in theological thought, thus making them concrete and effective to devotees.