Ghana Post Digital Address: GA-018-1233

EPHRAIM AMU MEMORIAL LECTURE 2022 – The Performing Arts, Morality and The Ghanaian National Identity

About the Speaker

MOST REV. PETER K. SARPONG, FGA

DD; STL, STD (Rome); Dip. Anthrop, M. Litt (Oxon) Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi

Most Reverend Peter Kwasi Sarpong, Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi Catholic Archdiocese was born on 26th February 1933 at Offinso-Maase in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. He attended St. Theresa’s Minor Seminary, Amisano from 1950 to 1953 and St. Peter’s Major Seminary, Cape Coast, from 1954 to 1959. He studied for his Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy, from 1961 and 1963. He acquired a Diploma and a Master of Letters Degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford, England from 1963 to 1965.
Archbishop Sarpong was ordained Catholic Priest on December 11, 1959 and Consecrated Bishop of Kumasi in 1970. He became Archbishop of Kumasi in 2002.

He has travelled extensively on all the six continents and lectured widely on various topics, notably, Ecumenism, African Theology, African Sociology, Social Anthropology and Justice and Peace.
Among numerous attainments, he founded dozens of basic schools, ten secondary schools, one College of Education, eleven vocational institutions, one technical school, three hospitals, one minor seminary, one major seminary, three novitiates, fifteen rural health clinics, five communal farms, promoted rural development with the assistance of overseas partner agents by providing many sanitation facilities and hundreds of boreholes for potable water, encouraged the establishment of cooperative credit unions everywhere in the Kumasi Archdiocese. He has set up an educational fund for poor children and a separate fund for the indigent in general. He is responsible for the establishment of an orphanage run by Mother Saint Teresa’s Sisters in Kumasi, the Cheshire Home for the rehabilitation of former mental patients and the Friends of the Disabled for the physically challenged.

He is a consummate Scholar, Anthropologist, Theologian and Prelate with many books and articles to his credit. Among his numerous presentations is an article on “Asante Culture and the Kingdom of God”, which contains an extensive and profound discussion of the status of Asante social and moral values within the framework of Christian theology; it concludes that such Asante moral and social values as justice, fortitude, compassion, generosity, humility, truth, hardwork, peace, solidarity, and communinalism are the pillars on which the Christian religion and practical life are built.

He has established himself as a highly distinguished authority on our traditional institutions and their relevance to contemporary conditions. This appreciation of the essence of our religious values and traditions displays a rare versatility.
In public life, he has held many key positions such as membership of the Council of State, membership, chairmanship and chancellorship of universities and university councils, corporations, and boards.

Ecclesiastically, he was once the Chairman of the Ecumenical Associations of African Theologians, the President of the Association of West African Catholic Bishops, a member of the Papal Council for Justice and Peace, and a representative of Africa on the Papal Council for Christian Unity.

On the 9th of May, 1980, he played host to His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II in Kumasi.
On the strength of these sterling qualities and achievements, the Most Rev. Peter K. Sarpong was elected Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on 13th December 2001.

Synopsis of Lecture

Human creative skills and their application form the basis of art in general. The arts that exhibit skills of performance are what is known as Performing Arts – mainly drama, music and dance. The demarcation line between Performing Arts and the national identity is very thin since they portray morality.

Performing Arts perform a multifarious function – religious, political, social, cultural, moral, deductive and economic. They produce happiness, joy, entertainment, through their sheer aesthetics and assist people to be truly human and to face success, victory, triumph, the inevitable ups and downs of life with equanimity, when properly utilised. Unfortunately, they can be harmfully oriented towards criminality, lies, disinformation, misinformation, violence and immorality. They can be used singly or collectively. They may be used as a pedagogical tool.

They often portray the key value of the fear of the Lord, key value of religiosity in our lives. They remind us of the meaning of life and the final end of human beings. In particular, Music is a participation in the cosmic regularity, is essentially rhythmic, exhibiting all the aspects of art.

The relevance of Performing Arts to development can never be contested, promoting, as they do, honesty, patriotism, hard work and unity which have ideally been part of the Ghanaian identity. They remind us of what makes us what we are and, thereby, humanise us.

The greatness of Ephraim Amu, in whose honour this lecture is being given, lies in the fact that he personifies in an extraordinary way the dancer, the dramatist and the musician for the perfect blend of the Performing Arts and makes him rank among the greatest sons of Ghana and Africa. But perhaps his most unsurpassable achievement was his determination to let all understand that being an African is not irreconcilable or incompatible with being a Christian. He saw no reason whatsoever in logic or doctrine why a true believer could not tell the Christian message in a non-Western attire. His example eventually helped the causes of both Christianity and Ghanaian culture. Thanks to him, the traditional Christian Churches were finally forced to accept several aspects of Ghanaian and African life which they had previously rejected or discouraged as inconsistent with the Christian religion.

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