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Appropriation and Contestation of Akan Traditional Healing Approaches in the Healing of Mentally Ill Patients at Prayer Camps in Ghana

In: Exchange
Author:
Francis Ethelbert Kwabena Benyah Postdoctoral Researcher, Department for the Study of Religions, Åbo Akademi University Turku Finland

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Abstract

Prayer camps are Pentecostal healing centres established across various parts of Ghana. Prayer camps in Ghana have become notable centres offering mainly spiritual help to people with mental health conditions. Arguably, prayer camps serve as a breakpoint or watershed between traditional healing shrines and the ‘gardens’ operated by Spiritual churches, popularly known as Sunsum sorè, in Ghana. Analysing data collected from fieldwork between 2019 and 2021, this article shows that the healing rituals for the mentally ill at prayer camps in Ghana share similarities with traditional healing shrine practices. The article argues that while such practices reveal the appropriation of traditional healing approaches at prayer camps, they also bring the tension and contestation inherent to the concept of appropriation into perspective.

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