Black History Month: ‘Undemonize’ African Traditional Religion – Cultural activist Akoto Bamfo calls for religious tolerance

Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, Ghanaian multi-disciplinary artist, has called for African Traditional Religion to be ‘undemonized’ and recognised as an integral part of Africans.

He said it was time to end the seeming discrimination against ancestral beliefs and embrace the diversity of religious expressions in Africa.

Mr Akoto-Bamfo was speaking at a final event organised by the US Embassy in Ghana to mark Black History Month on the theme: ‘Through the Eyes and Hands of the Mounted Abstract: A look at the ‘Image’ of African Traditional Religion and Arts during and after the Trans-Atlantic Trade.’

The cultural activist said there was a need to promote harmony, understanding, and mutual respect among followers of diverse religious traditions.

Black History Month is marked each February as a time to honour the contributions of African Americans who have shaped the history, culture, character, and diversity of the United States of America.

American Spaces through the American Center of the U.S. Embassy and the America
n Corner Agobogba Kumasi hosted participatory, educational, and informational events throughout February to commemorate Black History Month.

The activities included Screening and discussions of films including ‘Tell them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ and ‘Great Unsung Women of Computing: The Past, Present and Future of Women in STEM’ as well as a discussion Combatting Human Trafficking and Sexual Abuse: The Situation in Kumasi and Approaches to Restore balance.

Mr Akoto-Bamfo said, ‘We have a lot in us as Ghanaians, Africans and Black people and we need to be tolerant. We need to undemonized African Traditional religion. To demonize it is to see our own religion and our own selves through the lenses of other people.’

‘We need to learn to see ourselves through our own lenses. Let’s be tolerant,’ he emphasized and said, as Africa continued to navigate the complexities of religious pluralism and cultural diversity, it was important to foster greater understanding, r
espect, and tolerance among religious communities.

While underscoring the significance of religious tolerance in promoting social cohesion and peaceful coexistence, Mr Akoto-Bamfo said, ‘it is better to find out the truth about African Traditional Religion than what is projected through negative movies and the media.’

He said, ‘There is the need for tolerance and acceptance. Officially Ghana accepts African traditional religion and there is absolutely no need for someone to say, these people are demons.’

‘That is a disturbance of the peace we have in Ghana and that is a disturbance of the Ghanaian’s very psyche. To tell me that everything I am doing in respect to my ancestors is evil and demonic when you don’t understand it and have never been exposed to it…is absolutely wrong. The least we can do is to give ourselves time to discover the brotherhood of religion and greatness that can come through religious tolerance.’

Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, also the founder of the Nkyinkyim Museum in Ada, who has archived or
al history and traditions through his sculptures since 2009, said, ‘we have demystified progress as a country by shrouding it foreign language; we need to demystify knowledge and intelligence and uphold our indigenous languages as Africans’.

‘It is about time the elite gave way for traditional language and tradition belief systems for our own good,’ he stated.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State and hosted at U.S. embassies, consulates, and various local partner institutions, approximately 600 American Spaces in 140 countries host programmes and events that foster learning, discussion, and civic engagement around democratic principles.

American Spaces offer modern and welcoming environments equipped with advanced technologies, helpful staff, and innovative programming.

Source: Ghana News Agency