Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kathy's Experience: Religious LIFE in Sandema

The Catholic Church, Sandema 

After stepping off the plane in Accra I was greeted in arrival by five grown men dressed as Santa Claus dancing to traditional music to welcome international visitors. This is when I first realised how fun-loving and energetic the cultural spirit is in Ghana.

Energy and fun are in abundance within the religious activities of local people in Sandema. Every church I have visited has been full of songs, music and joy. Spending the morning at church goes quickly with all the activities and music, so much so that I find myself exhausted afterwards from the concentration of not wanting to miss something interesting!

During my first visit I had my feet washed by a local pastor as part of a congregational religious rite. It is believed that the feet are connected to every organ of the body and so if you wash the feet then you cleanse the body and soul. Washing the feet of every person in the congregation takes a while but the choir kept singing throughout with no breaks for water.

When I attend church in the UK it is for an annual event or celebration, such as carols by candlelight for Christmas. During these events the carols are sung in unison, similar to the songs in Ghanaian churches, but they are a mixture of hearty anthems about good cheer alongside more sombre melodies about the journey of Mary and Joseph. They’re sung at mid volume with everyone reflecting on the important messages they hold. This is contrasted with the gospel music commonly sung in Sandema; songs here are sung at full-volume with as much gusto as everyone can manage! They produce a different type of communal energy with catchy beats that you cannot help but move your body to. The songs also hold important messages and will often be linked to the sermon delivered by the pastor.
Union Chapel - Islington, London

Religion forms an integral part of community life in the Upper East and people will regularly extend invitations to their place of worship to share goodwill and cheer. This fosters positive community relations and religious tolerance is high in Sandema. You can attend a religious service no matter what religion you are, Christians and Muslims stand by side as neighbours and friends. Our team enjoy learning from each other about our beliefs and Sandema is the perfect place for this. In Sandema everyone is an uncle, aunt, brother or sister regardless of biological ties and there is nothing better than being surrounded by family when you are far away from home.

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