Kwaku Sintim-Misa (KSM) is an acclaimed actor, comedian and talk show host. Last week he invited me to appear on his long-running TV program, the KSM Show. You’ll be proud to know that I kept my cool and resisted the urge to gush for a full six minutes into our conversation prior to taping. Though a mutual acquaintance had informed me years ago that he’d like to have me on the show if I ever found myself back in Ghana, I still didn’t fully understand why I was in the presence of such a respected entertainment industry veteran.
“I know you – obviously,” I trilled, “but how do you know me?”
KSM laughed mischievously, baring that trademark grin. “Oh… some years back you wrote an article about one of these politicians (whose name I will reveal if you DM me). And I said ‘Yei! I hope I never mess up, because if I do, this woman will come after me!’ I just like your boldness and your wit.”
So you people see? The lack of decorum and occasional bushness can and will take you to high places! Knowing this, I relaxed somewhat. KSM – it appeared – wasn’t looking to meet with Malaka’s professional code switching persona. He wanted “coffee + cackling with the homies” Malaka. And boy did he get it!
Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, from my now defunct nonprofit, to my publications and my life as a pastor’s wife: a position commonly referred to in Ghana as ‘Osofo Maame’. It is on this score that I have come to experience regret where an otherwise delightful conversation is concerned.
During the 30 days that I’ve spent in Ghana, two conversations have dominated the social media landscape and national discourse at large. These are the #Sexforgrades scandal – a BBC documentary by the same name exposing flagrant sexual misconduct by lecturers in Ghana and Nigeria – and the government’s implementation of Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE). CSE is a K-12 program that has modules designed to build on each other, beginning with personal hygiene and an ethos centered on fairness and culminating with among other things safe(r) sex, personal agency and reproductive health. A significant portion of the population reject any effort to educate kids in this area and the endeavor has led to a huge backlash. The church politic has made its adverse position clear, going as far as rebranding it Comprehensive ‘Satanic’ Education.
KSM asked me why they would use the term Satanic to describe the classes, the logic being that I ought to know as someone whose husband works in ministry. I gave a glib answer in response. Here’s what I wish I’d said instead.
Why would the religious elite – both established and aspiring – decry this effort? Why are they more vocal on this issue and not structural inequality, rampant physical and sexual abuse that pervades our ‘moral’ society, the corruption that keeps Ghana stagnant in its developing nation status, ever ‘rising’ but never capable of standing erect? It’s because what these men of lesser gods (certainly not the most high) are peddling is a recycled, failing version of Western Christianity. Western Christianity must not be confused with true faith – with the salvation that Jeshua the Messiah came to preach. Western Christianity is a theology that was developed to create and make permanent divisions in humanity. It trades in fear and conflict, bartering in self-imposed suffering for cash.
Western Christianity is only effective if the underling accords his/her sovereign complete fealty, the consequences being risking the wrath of said lesser god. The god who unleashes fury on those who fail to obey their masters. Western Christianity does not advocate for the pursuit of higher learning, curiosity or fresh inquiry. Its advent plunged Europe into the Dark Ages and what saw millions of Africans stolen away as chattel on floating coffins. Knowing better, the citizens of Europe have rejected its influence on their daily lives and it is quickly losing ground in what was once known as the New World. The traders of right wing religious Christian extremism have therefore turned their eyes to the most logical place to ply their trade: the ever fertile ground of the minds of the gullible African. It is here that their mandate to suppress enlightenment, personal freedoms and acuity can flourish. If something is not understood, here – in Africa – we can call it “satanic” and the natives will quiver. They will refuse to interrogate the issue further. After all, what fellowship has light with darkness? A population riddled with disease and unable to care for their daily needs is easier to control. Whom shall we make the overlords of such a dejected species? The nefarious men of this peculiar sordid religious cloth and their brides, naturally.
We have raised broken children who have become damaged adults for long in our society that we cannot see another way to exist. To vie for the position of conqueror over conquered form a huge part of the African identity. It plays out in even the most subtle ways. Programs like CSE represent a real threat to the power structure that so many people have come to rely on as a road to wealth, control and dominance. To support such an effort would mean to sabotage their own schemes. Add to that, many of these powerful men and their cohorts are predators themselves. They rely on the fear and silence of their (potential) victims to feed their sick appetites. These pastors do no love you and they don’t believe in God. They will hasten this nation’s destruction.
I said none of this while on the show. I alluded to it in brief, and for that I have great regret.
Did you watch the program? Share your thoughts on my cute new glasses in the comments below!