​Story

Residents of Anomabo, a fishing community in the Central Region of Ghana, have revealed that two of their gods insist that they defecate on their local beaches. Apparently the gods use the stools in order to produce fish for the fishermen. These two gods, who delight in the brown stuff, are known as Ekitsaba and Obosanti. If the residents fail to obey, these divine beings become truculent and malign and they either refuse to bless the fishermen or they bring disaster. Many local people are terrified of these gods and they pollute delightfully sandy beaches as they propitiate these poo-obsessed gods. A fisherman said that a government official tried to clean  the beaches; he was warned by pious animists, continued his mission and was later found murdered!

Background Notes

It is important to notice that animism can easily take hold of entire communities and create havoc. Superstition can lead to murder! Animist believers contrast with secular believers in the following way. Secular folk are often hardened materialists who believe that everything can be understood in purely physical terms for this is their foolish faith. These secular people reject superstitious behaviour as primitive claptrap. Often this faith draws people into a consumerist lifestyle that focuses upon the inane consumption of goods and services. Hardened secularists can often be found on Spanish beaches, quaffing San Miguel lager and pondering the next game of golf as they reach for the suntan lotion. Oblivious to God and His creation, they are shocked and dismayed after death that they had been deceived by pompous secular authorities. Animists are different. They do believe in the supernatural but they lack insight into biblical revelation and they prostrate themselves before demons that masquerade as grumpy gods. These ‘pretend gods’ tell them to defecate on beaches and in the most tragic circumstances to sacrifice children. This is why the gospel is so vital. Jesus has unmasked and defeated the powers of darkness (Col 2:15) by his death and resurrection.

Four Ways of Looking at the Story

Materialist faith: “We are scornful of superstitious people who defecate piously on beaches. Eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we will die and our corpses will be nibbled by rats and worms.”

Relativist faith: “We deeply respect animist believers who piously furnish feces for the gods. Who are we to say they are wrong?”

Animist faith:  “We believe in the poo gods, Ekitsaba and Obosanti. We must appease them by the pious production of turds on our beaches.”

Christian faith: “We believe that Jesus has defeated demons who impersonate grumpy gods. Trust in Jesus and not in poo gods.”

Questions

1) What is animism?

2) How is animism different from secularism?

3) How does Christian faith challenge both animism and secularism?

Mark Roques

Mark Roques

For eleven years Mark taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at Prior Park College, Bath. As Director of RealityBites since 2005, he has developed a rich range of resources for teachers and is a popular speaker at educational conferences in the UK, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Mark is the author of three books, including the Religious Education textbook The Good, The Bad and The Misled, and his innovative approach has led him to appear on television (Channel 4) and radio.