Reintroduce ‘taboo’ days to preserve environment — Rev. Dr Frimpong-Manso
The General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Ghana, Rev. Dr Paul Yaw Frimpong-Manso, has called for the re-introduction and effective implementation of “days of rest”, popularly known as holy days (nnabone), in Ghana.
“On such days, farming and fishing activities are not permitted. This allows the land and river bodies to rest in order to restore fertility,” he said
He further called for the revisit and re-introduction of other African traditional values to help the citizenry build a better and more resilient community and country.
He made the call at this year’s edition of the Annual Kuntum Public Lecture organised by the Essikado Traditional Council at the Takoradi Polytechnic.
The lecture was on the theme: “Our environment, our life: African traditions and the preservations of our Ecology”.
Many communities in the country have particular days or periods during which natives are prohibited from engaging in certain activities.
Among the people in the coastal communities, fishermen by tradition do not go fishing on Tuesdays.
In many farming communities, specific days are set aside for farmers to rest and it is an offence and a taboo to be seen going to farm on those days.
Among Akans, there are specific days, such as Akwasidae, Fofie, Memeneda Dapaa and Awukudae, on which days people are specifically prohibited from doing any kind of work.
These are traditional holy days referred to as ‘nnabone’.
Important traditional practices
Rev. Dr Frimpong-Manso said in times past many traditional environmental conservation practices were used in protecting the environment.
Citing an examples, he said taboos helped to preserve economic trees such as Odum and the African Mahogany.
“In African traditional culture, these trees are regarded as trees with spirits which should, therefore, not be felled without some rituals being performed. Consequently, the felling of such trees was preceded by various rituals, including libation pouring,” he explained.
He called for pragmatic and locally relevant measures, including a paradigm shift in the way Ghanaians pursued livelihood activities.
Underscoring the importance of attitudinal change towards the environment, he said human existence depended on the natural environment.
“Our environment provides the extractive resources for the production of consumer goods and services, as well as natural amenities for recreational use, such as waterfalls, lakes, etc.
“However, increased population growth, especially in developing countries, including Ghana, has resulted in increased demand for natural resources to feed and clothe the population. In many cases, the demand for these natural resources has outpaced the capacity of the natural environment to regenerate itself,” he said.
In addition, Rev. Dr Frimpong-Manso called for the enforcement of the country’s by-laws on the environment, emphasising that those who went contrary to the laws must be punished.
“In our various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, there are sanitation and environmental by-laws. These notwithstanding, people flippantly infringe these by-laws with impunity.
“Therefore, punishments and sanctions for infringement of sanitation and environmental by-laws should be punitive enough to serve as a deterrent to others,” he noted.
He further advocated the review of Ghana’s educational curriculum to make environmental and ecological studies, as well as African traditional values, vital parts of the syllabi.
“This should start right from the primary school to inculcate in our children good environmental practices and awareness. This will help them grow into environmentally responsible adults.
“In particular, our youth should be taught African traditional values for them to appreciate our rich African values in order to make positive contributions to build a better and prosperous country,” he emphasised.
Establishment of ecological endowment fund
Rev. Dr Frimpong-Manso also proposed the establishment of an ecological endowment fund, which, he said, would be funded through innovative ways.
“It will also not be out of place to set aside a small percentage of stool land sales to provide seed money for such an endowment fund.
“Such a fund should have a board of governors and a management system in place to instil confidence in the fund. This fund could then be used to exclusively fund research into African traditions and how they can be harnessed to preserve our ecology,” he added
Touching on the theme, he said it was apt because of the extent of environmental degradation currently being witnessed in the country.
Secondly, he said it was appropriate because globally there was increasing concern over the extent of ecological degradation.
That, he noted, had led to the promulgation and formulation of various international conventions and protocols aimed at arresting the rate of ecological degradation globally.