Ghana: Authorities Grapple with Unsettling Prophecies Amid New Year’s Season

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

As the New Year unfolds in Ghana, a tradition of ominous prophecies predicting imminent catastrophes has become increasingly prominent. Pastor Isaac Owusu-Bempah, in his sermon on December 31st, once again forecasted chaos, presenting a challenge for authorities who deem such preachings as potentially threatening public order. Despite official warnings, these forebodings persist.

In his recent sermon, Pastor Isaac Owusu-Bempah declared, “Without divine intervention, the presidential election could escalate into a bloodbath.” On December 27th, the Ghanaian police urged pastors to refrain from making such statements. The Criminal Offenses Act of 1960 prohibits the dissemination of apocalyptic prophecies that are “likely to cause fear and panic.”

However, influential pastors continue to defy the law annually. According to political analyst Kobi Annan, this highlights the difficulty authorities face in enforcing such legislation. “Unless you place police officers in churches — a challenging task given the thousands of churches in Ghana — or arrest individuals and educate them, there is no practical way to enforce the law,” opines Annan in an interview with Christina Okello from the Africa service. Interfering with religious freedom is a delicate matter. Attempting to do so might be possible, but in an election year, politicians would hesitate to take the risk of arresting a well-known pastor in a deeply religious country.

In 2019, Pastor Bempah, leading one of Ghana’s most influential churches, had predicted the deaths of several political figures without facing repercussions. Two years later, Pastor Stephen Akwasi forecasted the death of renowned Ghanaian singer Shatta Wale, sparking a public outcry. While briefly detained, Akwasi was released shortly after that.

The recurring challenge posed by these unsettling prophecies underscores the delicate balance between freedom of religion and the need to maintain public order. As Ghana grapples with these issues, the potential implications for the upcoming election year remain a topic of concern.

Soukaina Sghir

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