Afrikania Mission, the neo-traditional movement that champions Africanism

Ama Nunoo June 08, 2020
Ordination of Afrikania priests and priestesses at the Afrikania Mission headquarters. Photo: Research Gate

Afrikania mission believes the development discourse of the African continent is dependent on its own people. And this can be realised through a movement that preaches traditional religion and culture as the spiritual basis.

This neo-traditional movement was formed in Ghana in 1982 by Vincent Kwabena Damuah, a Catholic priest who resigned from the church and became known as Osofo Okomfo, meaning traditional priest.

It is the aim of Afrikania mission to update and reform African traditional religion while promoting Pan-Africanism and nationalism. There is an original African religion that is now augmented by Afrikania through publications, seminars, lectures, press conferences, television broadcasts and an hourly radio program titled, The Afrikania Hour.

All these are ways by which the neo-African traditional and pan-African campaign seek to bring their mission to the greater public and to create awareness.

In Africa, reverence to the elders and ancestors is never taken lightly as wealth of knowledge they possessed was huge. These were passed on from generation to generation and Damuah was inspired and influenced by his father and grandfather, who were both herbalists and traditionalists to pursue his mission of cementing the neo-traditional movement through Afrikania mission.

The ancestors were the hub of their communities serving them with their proficient philosophies on medicinal flora alongside the metaphysical and religious concepts pertaining to healing. For some there really is no difference between the physical and spiritual realms. With these ideologies, Afrikania is sometimes described as Amen-Ra: God centered, Sankofa: a return to African roots; and Godian: neo-traditional.

As Christians have the Bible and Muslims the Quran, Afrikania’s teachings stem from the Afrikania HandbookMiracle at the Shrine and other books and pamphlets authored by Damuah’s successor Osofo Kofi Ameve.

The Afrikania Handbook clearly states that, “It is not a new religion. It is traditional religion “come alive”, reformed and updated. Afrikania is here not to destroy, but to fulfil the dream of a new Africa.”

The teachings in the Handbook are categorized into 10 Articles of Faith, 14 Pillars of Life which tackle religious beliefs, political activism and social concerns which often have similarities.

The themes that run through the teachings center on African values which include respect for elders and service to community. They teach about time management, agricultural evangelism, herbal medicine which has direct links to traditional religion, etc and they also encourage their members to write wills to prevent litigations at death.

Afrikania also engage in libation pouring, sacrifices, praying and rituals which include the consecrating of ancestors and Pan-African figures like Malcom X, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta as they recognise the mediation of the gods and ancestors.

There are Sunday noon services at different locations in the big cities like the capital Accra and Ho in the Volta Region. The liturgy of the service replicates that of Christaian services in terms of the structure but the content of the liturgy is traditional. Pan-Africanist political literature is also covered extensively during meetings.

They run an annual convention for its members and intends on building a University in the Brong Ahafo Region in Ghana to teach the youth more about neo-traditional African religious practices because the makeup of he mission consists of mostly the elderly.

The leadership of Afrikania mission wants recognition nationally and are advocating for a national holiday like Christmas or Easter for Christians and the Eid-ul-fitr for Muslims.

Osofo Okomfo Damuah died in 1992 and was succeeded by Kofi Ameve. There was a divide after this succession leading to the formation of the African Renaissance Mission led by Osofo Ameve and the Afrikania Mission led by Osofo Dankama Quarm.

Afrikania's Dilemma: Reframing African Authenticity in a Christian ...
Photo: JStor

In 2000, the African Renaissance Mission, which had a bigger following took on the original name of the movement again, Afrikania missions with His Holiness Osofo Ameve, leading the group. Under his leadership, Afrikania mission became recognized as the official mouthpiece of the traditional faith through its various activities.

Some of the activities included training schools for prospective Afrikania priest, opening of more branches in Ghana, getting more involved in national issues such as religion in mainstream educational system in Ghana.

Also, Afrikania is the umbrella for the otherwise scattered and diffused system of traditional shrines and healers. Herbal healing was promoted as an alternative medicine in Ghana.

They also defend cultural practices that are criticised by human rights activists. Osofo Ameve died in 2003 and in April 2004, Osofo Komfo Atsu Kove was elected.

Many Pan-Africanists believe Afrikania mission is a focal point within the diaspora as it seeks to give a platform to traditional African religion and practices and most importantly increase the traditional faith in society. Afrikania mission lends intellectual support to traditional religion rather portraying itself as a single new religious movement.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: June 8, 2020


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