I am sure most of you folks have heard about the Ghana National Cathedral by now. A whooping $ 100million worth of construction in the heart of Accra for the National Cathedral Of Ghana. And then the ongoing fuss about why a country such as Ghana should spend so much on a religious building when there are so many pending infrastructural developments in the Country.
Not to talk of the fact that the christian council and committees are urging the mere public to donate for the construction of this building. As well as the trolls at the government from the outside world.
Kickstart of The Ghana National Cathedral
The National Cathedral idea started popping up few months after Akufo-Addo’s Presidential victory back in December 2016, a sod cutting ceremony was conducted to inaugurate Ghana’s “National Cathedral.” Held on March 6, 2017, this event was part of the larger celebration of Ghana’s 60th anniversary of independence and was followed, a year later, by the public unveiling of the project plan.
The building’s designed by David Adjaye revealed a series of chapels, a baptistery, a 5,000-seat auditorium, a music school, an art gallery, a commercial shop, and a Bible Museum. According to Adjaye, the Akan-inspired design is “a genuine reflection of the art and culture of the good people of Ghana”.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has revealed that the building of the Cathedral is the fulfillment of a promise he made to (the Christian) God and, that, instead of drawing on the public coffers, he will be raising the funds himself in Ghana and overseas. Nana Akufo-Addo has made a personal donation of GH¢100,000 toward the construction of the Cathedral (costed at $100m) and has called it “a priority among priorities”.
He said that just as Cathedrals could be built elsewhere in the world, so too did Ghana see it as an important national need. The President’s personal project has also involved the efforts of state personnel and been granted prime public land to build on.
In order to start construction of the Cathedral, for example, the country’s Passport Office and houses occupied by 14 court of appeal judges were demolished and relocated to create a 70,000 sq. m plot for the Cathedral to be erected next to the Ghanaian parliament building in the centre of the capital, Accra. The new structure, inspired by the concepts of unity, harmony, and spirituality, will sit on over 9 acres of gardens near the Osu Cemetery in Accra, and it will be a gathering place for people of all faiths.
The National Cathedral is a historic project that provides a sacred space and infrastructure for the formal religious activities of the nation, like state funerals and presidential inaugural services. It is this national character that distinguishes it from the other Cathedrals in the country.
“The Cathedral will address the missing link in our nation’s architecture by providing a Church of national purpose,” President Akufo-Addo said in the same statement. “It will be an interdenominational house of worship and prayer, as well as serve as the venue for formal state occasions of a religious nature, such as presidential inaugurations, state funerals, and national thanksgiving services.”
Re-imagining Ghana’s history through the building of the Cathedral and the Bible Museum can be interpreted as an attempt to bridge the cultural and temporal separation between the Biblical past and Ghana’s national present – the projection of a continuity of faith into the nation’s past. Material sites such as the Cathedral and the Bible Museum collapse the temporal distance and conjure direct access to the Biblical past in the present. Yet, these attempts to Christianize Ghana’s past and present have not gone unnoticed. But this shall be the subject of my next post.
We have engaged the very best of Ghana with the very best in the world. The result of the integration of the vision, design, and programming is an iconic infrastructure that provides a sacred space for the nation, attracts pilgrims and tourists, and includes a built-in economic engine for financial sustainability.
We are taking the bold vision of the President for a Sacred National infrastructure, linking it to the path-breaking design of iconic Architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, and organically anchoring these in world-class programs – including Africa’s first Museum of the Bible whose development is supervised by Cary Summers, the founding President of the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.
Adjaye Associates’ concept for the new Ghana National Cathedral establishes a unique, 21st century landmark where religion, democracy and local tradition are seamlessly and symbolically intertwined. Conceived as a physical embodiment of unity, harmony and spirituality, the National Cathedral will be a rich, authentic celebration of Ghanaian tradition and culture and a place of inspiration, reflection and common devotion.
Its form derives from traditional symbols of worship and veneration, drawing reference from both Christian symbolism and traditional Ghanaian heritage. Emblems like the nation’s seat of power ‘the Stool’, the shade of celestial authority -‘the Boaman’, ceremonial canopies, and ‘the Tabernacle’ inspire the configuration.
The new cathedral takes these symbols of royal and religious veneration and democratizes them from the individual to the people. We do hope this Ghana National Cathedral development truly serves it’s great purpose.