Sunday, October 12, 2008

African Churches

Ghana seems to be a very religious country. There are three main religions here: Traditional African religions, Islam, and Christianity. There are many mosques and churches all around, and I’ve noticed that many stores have names such as God Saves Salon, or Jesus is Able Electronics, or What a Blessing Real Estate, or Good News Mechanics. One of the government-required subjects in every school is Religious and Moral Education, in which the children learn about the beliefs of the three religions as well as a standard moral code.

I like European churches. They are all quite beautiful inside and out. I don’t like American churches very much. Before coming here, I wondered how African churches would make me feel. I was invited to go to church this morning, so I went along to find out.

We left the house at 6:10 AM to get to the 6:30 AM mass at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Madina. When I first walked into the church, my first impression was that I had just walked into a giant beehive. The walls were painted yellow, and had honeycomb-shaped holes throughout. Near the front of the church was a big LCD sign that flashed messages such as “2008 Annual Harvest. Date: November 2, 2008” or “Please turn off your mobile phones” or “Today’s readings: Isaiah 4:6-20.” It was quite the tackiest decoration I’d ever seen in a church. European churches still take the top prize for being the most beautiful.

Then the service started, and I realized that African churches are beautiful in their own way. The people are beautiful. They bring such joy. They’re so full of life! They wore such colorful clothing, especially the women in their beautiful, colorful African dresses. When they sang, they sang like they meant it. Their music was amazingly fantastic! Their voices bounced around to the beat of African drums. I never imagined that church music could be so energetic and enjoyable. It was quite indescribable.

I loved the music! Then, to make it even better, the people started dancing! They put a box on a stand in the front of the church for the collection, and each person who wanted to give money had to go up to put the money in the box. Most people danced all the way to the front of the church, and when they returned to their seats, they continued to dance in place. When they really got into the music, people took out handkerchiefs and waved them around to the beat of the drums. It really felt like a celebration. It was such a vibrant, amazing experience! It was ridiculously long, lasting over three hours, and ridiculously early (6:30 AM on a Sunday?), but I was so blown away by the experience that I didn’t even mind!

I wish I were better at writing descriptions! This is something that I can’t fully express in words. You’ll just have to come to Ghana to experience it for yourself!

1 comment:

carissarose said...

ooh, now you've got me interested in ghanan music! if you find anything similar to what you heard, let me know :)