LDS church, Ghana, Africa, adversity, church membership


Known by its Akan name, kotoko, the porcupine is the national animal of Ghana and a proud symbol of both peace and power. While harmless and amiable when left undisturbed, the porcupine can be a formidable opponent when it feels threatened. Ghanaians do not hesitate to identify with the porcupine, naming both their national airport and national football team after the animal. The Ashanti, once one of the mightiest empires in West Africa and today a symbol of power and pride in Ghana, revere the porcupine for its courage and dignity in the face of adversity. Latter-day Saints living in Kumasi, the historic capital of the Ashanti kingdom and currently home to over two million people, have shown similar courage in the face of adversity. While the LDS Church has only existed in Kumasi for thirty-two years, membership growth has been impressive, especially within the last ten years. The following analysis is the result of a two-week visit to Kumasi from 17-29 May 2014. Drawing from interviews of 32 members from 10 wards and branches, I will illustrate some of the ways in which the Latter-day Saints in Kumasi conceptualize their involvement in the LDS Church, especially as such processes relate to memory and history. In addition, this study will discuss various challenges that both converts and long-time members face being Latter-day Saints, including language barriers and cultural dissonance. Lastly, it will discuss aspects of Ashanti and Ghanaian culture that members believe to be beneficial, yet occasionally are at odds with customs and teachings of the Church, such as funeral rites and dress. This project will hopefully address relevant issues not only among the LDS community in Kumasi but also similar concerns held in diverse settings around the world, leading to an open dialogue amongst Church members and leaders about the future of the Church.


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Harold B. Lee Library