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The increasing numerical strength of Ghanaian pentecostalism and the movement’s involvement in filling in the socioeconomic vacuum in society means that the position of the pastor-prophet cannot be a neglected one. Yet, the extent to which human rights violations are involved in the activities of some of these pastor-prophets has raised some concerns. This article will focus on the often violent treatment of alleged witches during exorcism and explore how these challenge human rights development and implementation in Ghana. Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and symbolic violence will be applied to a discussion of human rights and Ghanaian popular deliverance-oriented pentecostal/charismatic ministries. I will argue that pentecostal/charismatic discourse on witchcraft fashions an ideological foundation for symbolic and actual violence against those accused of witchcraft.

In: Pneuma

This paper explores the reasons for proscribed sanctions and their effects on contemporary Ghana. I contend that the sacred office of the Ghanaian chief, which is legitimated by spiritual and legal norms, plays an ambivalent role in Ghana’s legal and political modernization. Using banishment as a case study, the paper pays attentions to how the continued use of proscribed sanctions, among other chiefly actions, raises an ambivalent challenge to Ghana’s laws, its sovereignty, and its commitment to human rights. I propose actions that may aid the state in overcoming these challenges and successfully integrating modern norms with ancient traditional values.

In: Journal of Law, Religion and State


This paper examines the reasons for and consequences of the resort to traditional spiritual justice in spite of increasing awareness of state civil law structures. The paper helps us theorise on how economic disputes resulting from lack of effective legal enforcement yields itself easily to the deployment of spiritual justice. The significance of this study is that it contributes perspectives into issues of law and political modernisation and their interrelationships with religious imaginations. It departs from previous accounts that focus on the pervasiveness of religion in the contemporary Ghanaian public sphere. Instead, the current study devotes attention to the conditions that occasion the deployment of religion in the public domain.

In: African Journal of Legal Studies


This paper interrogates an unexamined component of the religion-migration nexus in Ghana. Using African Traditional Religion as a case in point, the paper examines the function shrines play in sustaining youth migration to Libya and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The paper relies on interviews and fieldtrips to migrant sending communities in the Nkoranza area of the Bono East region of central Ghana. The paper gives an account of the daily realities of prospective migrants, returnees and their families. Among other key findings, it is shown that there is an intricate connection between youth migration, the family system and the deities in sustaining the trans-Saharan migration. This migration, we observe, has become a livelihood strategy, the perpetuation of which reassures the survival of not only the people, but their gods as well.

In: African Diaspora


This paper probes the intricate connection of conversion, proselytization, and the state of Ghana to achieve three overarching goals. First, it unravels how colonialism, Christianity, and Islam have historically and collectively marginalised African indigenous religions. Second, it demonstrates a clever state maneuver to continue the historic joint colonial and missionary projection of Christianity and Islam at the expense of other traditions. Third, it interrogates how the state of Ghana is mindful of the political implications of frustrating the principle of separation. Against these positions, the paper argues that despite tacit attempts to privilege Christianity and Islam over indigenous religion, the state of Ghana maintains a moderate secularist stance that enhances free and equal participation of its religiously diverse populations in the public space.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa