Ghana's Constitutional Governance “only scratches surface of true democracy”: Catholic Bishop

Thanksgiving Mass after Episcopal Consecration of Bishop John Kobina Louis at Mary Mother of Good Council Parish of Accra Archdiocese of 30 April 2023. Credit: Ernest Senanu Dovlo/Ghana

The constitutional governance that stakeholders in Ghana practice is superficial and does not go far enough to reflect “true democracy”, Bishop John Kobina Louis, one of the Auxiliary Bishops of the country’s Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, has said.

Delivering a sermon at the joint Ecumenical Service of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC) and the Christian Council of Ghana on Wednesday, May 8 Bishop Kobina compared and contrasted prophet Ezekiel’s vision of “a life-giving river” and St. Luke’s Jordan River on one hand, and the other hand, “River Ghana”.

Deficiencies in Ghana’s constitutional governance partly constitute factors behind the “polluted waters of the River Ghana”, he said at Ebenezer Presbyterian church in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, and highlighted other factors as traditional leadership and religious practices.

It is unfortunate, the Ghanaian Catholic Bishop said, that “the pristine and life-giving waters of the River Ghana have been polluted and degraded, especially, in the past three decades.”

He explained, “The muddy, chemical-contaminated and life-threatening River Ghana is full of bribery, corruption, lack of patriotism, deteriorating education system, (youth) unemployment, galamsey, poverty, poor healthcare system, armed robbery, violence, culture of impunity, abandoned government projects, etc.”


The Catholic Church leader decried “the type of constitutional governance we practice in Ghana”, saying that it “only scratches the surface of true democracy.”

“It is like galamsey (illegal surface mining). The only difference is that our democratic galamsey is legal – it is backed by a constitution. But, the constitution itself is riddled with deficiencies. In addition, we have the problem of unpatriotic and self-seeking players of governance,” Bishop Kobina said.

The deficiency of traditional leadership, he said, “could be likened to some activities of deforestation. That is, the custodians of our time-tested and cherished values have not been able to safeguard some of them, because of monetary and other selfish gains.”

Meanwhile, the deficiency of religious leadership, which he likened to Ghana’s natural water bodies that he said “have been polluted by chemicals used for galamsey”, is about “the unsound teachings, false prophecies and superstitious practices in some churches, especially those established by self-seeking individuals.”

In his May 8 sermon in which he recognized with appreciation what Ghana “has been endowed with”, including “some of the most valuable minerals ... past enviable vegetation ... the innumerous water bodies ... invaluable human resources”, Bishop Kobina expressed optimism.

More in Africa

Despite the deficiencies, the Auxiliary Bishop since his Episcopal Consecration in April 2023 said, the polluted River Ghana “can be restored to its former glory of prosperity, progress, life-giving and nations-enriching, because God is its source!”

For that to happen, “the status quo of the constitution cannot remain, nor can the business as usual of the executive, legislature, judiciary, traditional leaders, religious leaders, and general citizenry be sustained,” he said, drawing inspiration from the message of St. John the Baptist, who, in St. Luke’s Gospel, challenged those seeking baptism to change their perspectives, including the notion of having Abraham as their ancestor. 

Other actions that can lead to the restoration of River Ghana, Bishop Kobina said, include repentance, altruism and seeking the “collective good”, and replacing vices such as greed, bribery and graft with the virtues of “integrity, responsibility and accountability”.

“Furthermore, from John’s instruction to the soldiers, we can pick these lessons: we should not be engaged in threats or violence; the rule of law should be supreme; our law-enforcement agencies and the judiciary should be fair and free of fear or any ill-manipulations,” he said.

According to Bishop Kobina, “Ghana was meant to positively influence the continent of Africa. This, our first and most visionary President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, understood so well.”


From the onset of Ghana’s independence, the Catholic Bishop recalled, Dr. Nkrumah had declared, “The independence of Ghana is meaningless, unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.”

“Our nation can be restored to its former glory,” Bishop Kobina said during the May 8 joint Ecumenical Service that is part of the activities of the GCBC Plenary Assembly that started on May 7.

He implored, “Let us all, the executive, judiciary, legislature, traditional leaders, religious leaders, and general citizenry, arise and rebuild our nation, with the help of God. May God make our nation great and strong! Amen!”

Ernest Senanu Dovlo contributed to the writing of this story

ACI Africa was founded in 2019. We provide free, up-to-the-minute news affecting the Catholic Church in Africa, giving particular emphasis to the words of the Holy Father and happenings of the Holy See, to any person with access to the internet. ACI Africa is proud to offer free access to its news items to Catholic dioceses, parishes, and websites, in order to increase awareness of the activities of the universal Church and to foster a sense of Catholic thought and culture in the life of every Catholic.