This blog covers the years 2014-2016 when we (the Robisons) were at the Ghana MTC. To see the blog covering the period 2016-2018 click on this link:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seeking Gospel Culture in Africa

There are cultural practices which are considered normal in some cultures and rude in others.   Ghana, considered one of the safest countries in Africa, is a multi-cultural country.

Missionaries are encouraged to be observant and respectful to the culture of Africa.  When sitting in a meeting, it is not proper to cross your legs; ever.  With regard to dress, it is unacceptable for women to wear clothes of a revealing nature nor is it acceptable for men to go shirtless.

It is not normal to see people of the opposite sex holding hands in public (or any public displays of affection), but very common to see two men holding hands or 2 women holding hands.  Last Sunday in our priesthood meetings, many of the Elders would rest their entire arm on the arm of the Elder next to them.  In our devotionals, the Sisters always sit in the front and many of them sit with arms interlocked with the Sister next to temple.  Yesterday while walking in the corridor of the temple, I noticed men workers holding hands as they walked.  However, homosexuality in Ghana is a topic never spoken of because people do not know how to react about it.

Ghanians are very welcoming people.  "Akwaaba obroni" (welcome white person) is often heard by those visiting the country.  For example, it is considered rude to greet someone with your hand in your pocket or wearing a baseball cap.  When greeting people, no one is ignored.  Guests are expected to acknowledge every person (starting with the eldest) at social occasion, including children and babies (shaking only with the right hand).  First great the person on your right and work your way left insuring that your palm makes contact with their palm.Touching the back of the hand is considered unlucky or as an insult.  The same ritual is following upon departure as well.

"Many African traditions are consistent with the gospel culture and help our members keep the commandments of God. The strong African family culture is superior to that of many Western countries, where family valuesare disintegrating. We hope the examples of love and loyalty among members of African families will help us teach others these essential traditions in the gospel culture. Modesty is another African strength. We plead with youth elsewhere to be as modest as most of the young people we see in Africa."  (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, March 2012 Ensign, "The Gospel Culture")
"In contrast, some cultural traditions in parts of Africa are negative when measured against gospel culture and values. Several of these concern family relationships—what is done at birth, at marriage, and upon death. For example, some African husbands have the false idea that the husband rests while the wife does most of the work at home or that the wife and children are just servants of the husband. This is not pleasing to the Lord because it stands in the way of the kind of family relationships that must prevail in eternity and it inhibits the kind of growth that must occur here on earth if we are to qualify for the blessings of eternity. Study the scriptures and you will see that Adam and Eve, our first parents, the model for all of us, prayed together and worked together (see Moses 5:1, 4, 10–12, 16, 27). That should be our pattern for family life—respecting each other and working together in love." (Elder Oaks)

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