Throughout history, Religious faith has been a major influence in national transformation. Indeed, in his seminal work, the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the German sociologist Max Weber demonstrates the link between protestant values/ethics and the development of the capitalism that transformed the West. Yet, despite the deep religiosity of Ghanaians and Africans, and the pervasive influence of religious faith in society, there is an almost paradox-of- silence on the role religion and religious faith in the debates on national transformation. This is due, partly, to the dominance of a secular post-independence nation building project that largely ignores religion and religious faith. But, this neglect is also partly due to a lack of “safe” platforms for national and pan African conversations on religious faith in nation building.
The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in articulating the vision for the Ghana National Cathedral, conceives the Cathedral as both a physical infrastructure and a convening platform. As a physical infrastructure, the Cathedral addresses a critical national architectural gap by providing a Church for National purposes. As a convening platform, the Cathedral address a critical national convening gap. As the President explains:
"The National Cathedral will also serve as a platform to initiate and sustain conversations on the appropriate role of faith in building a progressive and prosperous Ghana."
The “Faith and National Transformation Summit” gives practical expression to this vision of the Ghana National Cathedral as a Convening platform. Akin to the March 6 2018 unveiling of the design of the Cathedral which launched the Cathedral-as-infrastructure, the Faith and National Transformation Summit will launch the development of the Cathedral-as-Convener. Concretely it will provide a structure, to be known as the Accra Faith Roundtable, through which the critical national conversations on religious faith and the nation building process, would take place.
The Conversations are conceived within and inspired by the notion of the ‘public sphere’, defined as “society engaged in critical public debate”. In its ideal form, the public sphere is made up of private people gathered together as a public and articulating the needs of society with the state. Through acts of assembly and dialogue, the public sphere generates opinions and attitudes which serve to affirm or challenge-therefore, to guide- the affairs of state. That is, the space, where the citizens of a nation communicatively deliberate and engage with the state on the challenges facing their nation. Ultimately the goal is to create a truly national public sphere where Christian faith engages the policy challenges of transformation.
The “Conversation” format aims to contribute to a “Beyond Aid” paradigmaticshift that locates the creative heart of strategy development in the national context-- away from the dominant practice where the powerful aid actors--the World Bank, the UN, the major donor states and the large and influential development NGOs—develop strategies and transfer these for implementation in African countries.
A TALE OF TWO FAITH CONVERSATIONS
This formal inauguration of the National Cathedral’s Faith Roundtable would be structured around two sets of key Faith “conversations”, namely i) Faith and Economic Transformation and ii) Faith and Corruption/Integrity.
The Faith and Economic Transformation conversation explores the question of religious faith and values Faith and Economic Transformation. It is organized in partnership with the Economic Summit (formerly the European Economic Summit). The Economic Summit promotes value-based paradigms on finance and economics based on Christian tradition, faith and thought, and presents transformational businesses as new models for sustainable economies. Founded in 2014 by Dr. Arleen Westerhof, the Economic Summit has proven itself to be a reliable partner with business, government and academic institutions seeking to apply these paradigms practically. The Economic Summit will address a number of challenges affecting the transformation of African economies—leadership, governance, education, health, entrepreneurship and land issues. One of the Economic Summit’s major contributions would be the introduction and discussions of “Economics of Mutuality” an innovative, values-based management theory developed by Dr. Bruno Roche, head of the Mars Catalyst Think Tank. A collaborative project between Mars Catalyst and Oxford University’s Said Business School explores mutuality as a new principle for organizing business. The conversations would look at how the values, ethics and economics of mutuality could be applied to Ghana’s and African development. A second major contribution would be the practical application of the principle of Land Degradation Neutrality. (LDN) and how this can be used to combat desertification and enhance the biodiversity and fertility of Ghana’s and Africa’s top soils. This concept, developed by Dr. Luc Gnacadja, a former UN Executive Secretary for the Committee to Combat Desertification and a former Minister of Agriculture in Benin. has the potential to significantly impact the economic performance of the region as a whole.
The Second, Faith and Corruption/Integrity conversation, is organized in partnership with the Unashamedly Ethical (UE) campaign of South Africa, and addresses the role of religious faith and values in the fight against corruption. The underlying assumption for this focus is that corruption is an ethical problem, not simply an institutional one. And given that religious faith is a primary source of internalized values in societies that struggle with corruption, it potentially makes religious faith a key social change agent. The Conversation will thus problematize the paradoxical expansion of the Church in Ghana, and Africa, on the one hand, and the pervasive corruption on the other. It will propose strategies for the Church to deal both with its own internal ethical challenges, and strategies to influence the broader society.
To provide practical aid and framework for this critical work, Unashamedly Ethical (UE), a Christian-inspired anti-corruption campaign, would be launched in Ghana by Graham Power, the Founder and Chairman of the UE campaign. Graham Power, who also founded the Global Day of Prayer, is a leading South African Businessman and is the founder of the Power Group of Companies, a leader in the field of civil engineering construction, turnkey property development and infrastructure in South Africa.
FORMAT AND OUTLINE OF PROGRAM
The Summit will take the form of Keynotes, Plenaries, and Working Group discussions. It will be structured, provisionally as follows:
DAY 1: September 10, 2018
A welcome Banquet for participants to be hosted by the President of Ghana.
DAY 2: Tuesday September 11, 2018
DAY 3: Wednesday September 12, 2018
DAY 4: Thursday September 13, 2018
DAY 5: Friday September 14, 2018
Organized by: The Accra Faith Roundtable (The Ghana National Cathedral’s Convening Platform), In Partnership with: Economic Summit (ES), Netherlands, Unashamedly Ethical (UE), South Africa.
September 10-14, 2018, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, Accra, GHANA.