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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana

Regional Church News

Overview

Flag of Ghana

Flag of the Republic of Ghana

Ghana (/ˈɡɑːnə/ (About this soundlisten)), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means "Warrior King" in the Soninke language.[10]

The first permanent state in the territory of present-day Ghana dates back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti.[11] Beginning in the 15th century, numerous European powers contested the area for trading rights, with the British ultimately establishing control of the coast by the late 19th century. Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana's current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. It became independent of the United Kingdom on 6 March 1957.[12][13][14]

Ghana's population of approximately 28 million spans a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. According to the 2010 census, 71.2% of the population was Christian, 17.6% was Muslim, and 5.2% practiced traditional faiths. Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savannahs to tropical rain forests.

Ghana is a unitary constitutional democracy led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government.[17] Ghana's growing economic prosperity and democratic political system have made it a regional power in West Africa.[18] It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Group of 24 (G24) and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Local History

Various African tribes resided in Ghana for thousands of years. Akan peoples settled Ghana in the 13th century and ruled the region when the first Europeans explored the area. The Portuguese and Dutch established small coastal towns and forts to exploit gold resources. The British later arrived, naming western Ghana the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast was a British colony from the late nineteenth century until independence in 1957. Eastern Ghana was first colonized by the Germans and later administered by the British as a separate colony named British Togoland following the division of the former German colony between the British the French during World War I. Greater independence movements began in the mid-1950s. Although a series of coups occurred following independence in the 1960s and 1970s, economic growth and stability returned during the presidency of Jerry Rawlings. Unlike most African nations, Ghana experienced little ethnic tension and a slow transition to a democratic government during President Rawlings rule. Ghana retruned to democracy with democratic elections in the 1990s. Ghana has been praised as one of the greatest successes in political stability and democratization in West Africa.

Culture

The population exhibits considerable ethnic diversity, with each ethnic group possessing some unique cultural characteristics. Christianity is the primary influence on society in southern and coastal areas whereas Islam is the dominant influence on society in the north. Sports are popular, especially soccer. Music, textiles, and dance occupy an important role in culture. Polygamy is illegal, yet practiced among some according to local custom and Sharia law.[1] Cocaine and majiuana use appears higher than most nations.

Religious Freedom

The constitution protects religious freedom which is upheld by government. No restrictions prohibit proselytism and government respects religious minority groups. Major Christian and Muslim holidays are recognized national holidays. Religious groups are required to register and there have been no recent instances of the government refusing to register a religious group. The government has taken steps to foster harmony and tolerance between differing religious groups. Societal abuse of religious freedom occurs at times and targets practioners of indigenous faiths and Muslims.[3]

Church History

Accra Ghana Temple

Accra Ghana Temple - © 2009, Mervan Newbold. All rights reserved.

LDS literature and scriptures made their way to Ghana in the 1950s and ignited interest among Ghanaians. Some Ghanaians living abroad came into contact with the Church and later returned to Ghana. Church leaders attempted to visit the country in the 1960s under the direction of President David O. McKay, but were unable due to visa issues. Before the Church came to Ghana some prospective members organized unofficial congregations of the Church for interested individuals and prospective members. The Church established an official presence in 1978, the same year that priesthood and temple blessings became available to all regardless of race or ethnicity. The first convert baptisms in Ghana occurred in late 1978. 89 members were baptized on December 12th of that year. The West African Mission began administering Ghana in 1980 and the first mission in Ghana was established in Accra in 1985.

In June 1989, the government of Ghana expelled LDS missionaries based on misunderstandings of LDS teachings regarding government and race. At this time there were 72 young missionaries serving in Ghana, all of whom were Ghanaian citizens. An additional six foreign missionary couples were also serving at this time.[4] LDS Church activities were permitted to resume in late 1990 following the government deeming that the Church promotes racial harmony and the national flag.[5]

In 2004, Ghana became the first country in West Africa to have an LDS temple completed. A second mission in Ghana was organized in Cape Coast in 2005 and initially administered Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Togo. Missionaries serving in Ghana at the time reported that one of the likely reasons the new mission was created to not only assist in the expansion of LDS missionary activity in other nations but to facilitate several mission districts in the interior of the country to become stakes. Other nations under the Ghana Cape Coast Mission were transferred to the Ghana Accra Mission when the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission was organized in 2007. In the late 2000s, two full-time African missionaries were accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl and were found guilty in a trial and sentenced to 5-10 years in prison. The missionaries were released and acquitted of the charges in 2011. In mid-2011, the two Ghana missions administered only Ghana and Ghana pertained to the Africa West Area.

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