Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Call to Prayer

According to the “Culture Smart: Ghana” guide, about two-thirds of Ghanaians are Christian and 15% are Muslim. The rest maintain traditional tribal beliefs, although these beliefs are also infused into local Christianity and Islam.

In Tamale, it appears to my untrained eye that about half the population are Muslim and half are Christian. Many women wear scarves over their heads and there are no pigs (because Muslims don’t eat pork). In contrast, goats are everywhere! Baby goats wander the paths and adults scamper through the streets in town. There are also lots of chickens and guinea fowl.

But I’m being distracted by cute animals. Back to religion. Meetings and business are often halted for the call to prayer. I didn’t realized how often Muslims pray every day! The first call to prayer is at dawn, which each group seems to take as a slightly different time. When I first arrived, I’d wake up at 4:30am each morning with the first chanting in the neighbourhood and wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until all the prayers were done – usually around 6am. Now, though, I wake up to men singing and what sounds like one man with a microphone, then fall back asleep again relatively quickly.

My host family are Christian and have asked, “Which faith are you? Christian or Muslim?”

“I don’t follow either. I’m not religious.”

This is unheard of! There was a stunned silence for a couple seconds before the mother asked, “Why not?”

“I wasn’t born into either of them. My family isn’t religious.”

Another short pause. “But you’ll come to church with us on Sundays?”

“…Sure.”

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