Background to the study
The concept of sustainability and sustainable development could definitely be an umbrella under which human improvement thrives to a very large extent universally. The ideas underlining sustainability, cultural diversity, religion and development intensively relate to the human person as the focal point. These concepts underlining sustainable development put forward load of ideas when it comes to the active measure to improve the quality of life of the human person and may be put in processes, perspectives and theories respectively.
Globally, sustainable development has been a force to reckon with when it comes to eradicating certain forms of social evil that occur in the society hence, the United Nations engagement. Sustainable development is the development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs. The United Nations proposed seventeen sustainable development goals which bother on human development. These goals were proposed by the UN General Assembly in the adoption of the universal, integrated and transformative 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The goals are to be implemented and achieved in every country from the year 2016 to 2030.
In Ghana, sustainable development is a lurking phenomenon as there is the conscious effort to prioritize it. Development which appears to be stifled in Ghana can directly be linked to the faint measures that have been put in place to ensure that development ensue in the country. Besides that, diverse resourceful arenas including African traditional religion could also be channeled for development in Ghana. Culture is the totality of the way of life of the people living in a society whereas African traditional religion is a primary component of culture, expressions, beliefs and practices of the people. Theoretically, culture has been used to mean the pattern of life of people whiles realistically, culture is the social capital of the people. Culture, is not genetically inherited and cannot exist on its own but is always shared by members of the society. This in somewhat similar view captures the ideas given by Awolalu when he expresses African traditional religion as the religion of the African people.
The Ghanaian culture is diversified and very resourceful. This is because it accommodates other cultures within and without its confines. Cultural diversity means the visible differences between different groups of people in one culture. It is of much prominence that deeper thought is given to cultural diversity since it could be used interchangeably with cultural relativism which is considered invalid basically because they mean different things. The culture of the people has identity, problem solving, development, adaptability functions. The aforementioned functions are reflected in all the different sub-cultures or ethnic groups in Ghana. References to the relationship between culture and development can be found in such key documents as the Cultural Policy of Ghana, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda, and the National Tourism Development Plan. The challenge is to ensure that the full range of culture’s benefits is considered and that culture is consistently mainstreamed as a defining and sustainable component in national development plans. This cultural diversity could be seen in the various beliefs and practices inherent in the traditional religion such as festivals. However, the diversified norms, worldviews, beliefs and practices can only enhance development if pro-active measures are put in place. This leads to the question whether there could be a sustainable development in the midst of these elements of culture mentioned above. It appears that there is a positive assurance to the question. Sustainability propounds that something may be kept functioning for a longer period of time. In the case of development, it suggests that the development be kept for a longer time to positively affect future generations. This is the challenge since efforts have seemed futile in previous decades. African traditional religious beliefs and practices could solve the problem.
Statement of research problem
Efforts to ensure sustainable development in Ghana over the years have seemed futile. This is because of the different agenda pursued by different governments over the years. Besides, it appears that the sustainable development goals are not meticulously observed. In fact, the sustainable development goals are to serve as blue prints to help achieve a sustained developed country. There have been diverse measures put in place over the years to help manage cultural diversity towards achieving sustainable development in Ghana. However, such measures seem not to have provided the results anticipated. It appears that there are resourceful arenas involved in African traditional religion but unfortunately for stereotypical reasons, our indigenous religion has been tagged with derogatory remarks or descriptions such as fetish, savage and barbaric which directly undermine the possibility of the religion to be useful. The effect of modernity and formal education has resulted in the abandonment of the traditional religion. For this reason, policy makers as well as other governmental agencies have failed to incorporate these religious resources into developmental projects. This is a very appalling situation because the development that is sought after is ever present in the beliefs and practices of African traditional religion and for that matter, festivals. People need to be brought back to the realization that African Traditional Religion is instrumental in development.
For similar reasons, the media has directly failed to publicize the core values that are inherent in African Traditional Religion instead, the media paints the religion black. This is also another problem that needs a solution. This is dependent on the fact that the media is an effective communicative tool that reaches the world therefore negatively promoting African traditional religion would facilitate distaste of the religion by others.
African Traditional Religion has earned some derogatory remarks which stem from those that believe that the religion is somewhat barbaric and useless. It is very important to underline the fact that African traditional religion is not in any way detrimental to the growth process or development of African societies such as Ghana. A study into the religious systems is therefore a study of the people themselves in all complexities of both traditional and modern life. Religion is the strongest element in traditional background, and exerts probably the greatest influence upon the thinking and living of the people concerned. In conjunction with Mbiti, Ezeanya agrees that in Africa “life is religion, and religion is life” This means that religion could not be separated from the true African hence whoever tries it will be seen as a stranger to Africa. The religion is like a woven embroidery in the fabric of the cultural and religious lives of Africans.
Ghana is full of religious phenomena which is invariably remains untapped for development.
Failure to prioritize this religion to mean positivity in our societal framework is directly because of the negative perceptions towards the religion by people. Some theorists and researchers saw Africa as the “Dark Continent” even though they had never been to Africa before. This period is what Idowu in his book “African Traditional Religion” describes as “the period of ignorance and false certainty”. The full potential of African traditional beliefs and practices such as festivals, are not highlighted well enough for people to notice the intrinsic worth they habour. There is the need to show its worth to the people it matters to. To show the importance of this religion, light is thrown on its diversity and how the elements involved can be channeled to aid in the sustainable development in Ghana.
Research Objective and Significance.
The main objective of the research is to find out the contributions that cultural diversity as reflected in African traditional beliefs and practices such as festivals, make towards the achievement of sustainable development in Ghana.
The study is relevant religiously, socially and academically for the following reasons;
First, the study is very significant on the grounds of religion. African traditional religion is further proven as a very beneficial religion devoid of the diverse pejorative connotations attached to it. The study goes on to prove the validity of the religion by pointing out the aspects involved in it that holds the key to a sustained development in Ghana. The study makes known the reasons for the religion’s tenacity by showing its importance. It may also provide the answers to some questions on the minds of people concerning the religion in relation to ancestorship, deities and other aspects involved in the religion as a whole.
Second, the study holds a very strong importance in the social aspect of life. The study would increase the need to make sure the environment is enhanced to ensure peaceful co-existence as a result of the religious acceptance among religious masses. The study suggests ways of ensuring value-oriented society that would go a long way to show the importance of values, rules and norms in the society. It would also show how togetherness in unity would be achieved in the society through the institution of festivals.
Finally, the study has a strong academic significance. It adds up to the conscious academic approaches from a multidisciplinary background to rove the worth of African traditional religion, environmental conservation and sustainable development. The study buttresses the fact that there is a much defined relationship between humans and nature which can be seen in religion as well as in science in the field of Ecology. The study shows how effectively the diversity involved in African traditional religion can be channeled to achievement of sustainable development in Ghana. This would aid in providing an added form of reference literature to the numerous others to help solve the menace of underdevelopment. It would add considerably to the plethora of academic references that bothers on the terrain of the study.
This study is driven by the general question: what contributions can the management of cultural diversity as reflected in African traditional religion make towards Sustainable development in Ghana? In order to answer this question, the present work or study asks specific questions such as;
1. What is African traditional religion?
2. What is cultural diversity in African traditional religion?
3. In what can the management of this cultural diversity in African traditional religion contribute towards sustainable development in Ghana?
1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study
In evaluating the management of Cultural diversity towards the sustainable development in Ghana with respect to African traditional religion, the theme of festivals have been considered. The target units were the culture in general and the people who shared their thoughts, opinions and experiences in trying to answer the question of whether their festivals have any relevance whatsoever on the development in their respective societies. The Homowo festival of the Ga’s, the Adae festival of the Asante’s and the Apoo festival of the Bono’s (Brong) were used. This is accomplished by showing the diversity in these festivals and their similar contributions to development in Ghana.
The limitations that this research work is likely to encounter are;
The research envisages the problem of financial constraint as accessibility to the area of study would directly require money. The resources that are needed for this kind of research exceeds the normal hence limits the quality of the research in a way.
Time would also be a problem because the time involved in acquisition of data is very limited. Again, availability of the persons who are relevant to the study would be a struggle. Respondents may be skeptical to release certain information concerning their festivals.
1.6 Research Methodology
This study employed the qualitative method of research to gather data. The qualitative method was used because of its attribute of describing and understanding phenomena in their settings from the view of respondents who have experienced the concept. The study relied on both primary and secondary sources of data such as interviews and mostly textual materials. Primary data was collected through interviews and a purposive sampling method was used to select some people who were relevant to the study for the purposes of interview. Besides, secondary sources were consulted from journals, books, articles, documentaries and other papers. A descriptive research method was used to describe the happenings and nature of the festivals as its main focus to bring the study some practicality. All data gathered were carefully examined and evaluated in the light of the study objective. It is noteworthy that the study places emphasis on the theme of festivals, especially to show how diversified festivals are from different ethnic groups here in Ghana and again showing their contributions to sustainable development in Ghana.
1.7 Organization of the Study
This work is divided into five chapters;
Chapter one, covers the general introduction of the study. It includes the background to the study, the statement of the problem, research question, and objectives of the study as well as the framework of the study.
Chapter two explains the conceptual framework of the study through some textual reviews and references.
Chapter three explains the sources of cultural diversity in African traditional religion.
Chapter four concentrates on data Analysis, the main objective hence cultural diversity and sustainable development.
Chapter five is made up of observations, summery of findings and recommendations. It also gives general conclusion to the entire work.