READINGS: Ezekiel 47:1, 6-13 and Luke 3:1-3, 7-14


Beloved in Christ, the first reading narrates a vision in which the prophet Ezekiel saw a life-giving river (cf. Ezek. 47:1, 6-13); and the gospel reading alludes to the Jordan River (cf. Luke 3:1-3, 7-14). These references to rivers inspire our theme: “A Tale of the River Ghana”. The “River Ghana” is an imaginary one. By the choice of this name, we wish to tell a story of our nation Ghana with the use of rivers as analogy.


  • The River in Ezekiel’s Vision
  • Polluted Waters of the River Ghana
  • Restoration and More Fruitfulness

Like the river in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel (cf. Ezekiel 47:1-13), our nation Ghana has been blessed by God to be prosperous, progressive, life-giving and nations-enriching. 

Firstly, the river in Ezekiel’s vision takes its source from the sanctuary of God’s Temple. This means that God is the source of its waters and its accompanying blessings. Similarly, God is the source of the River Ghana (our nation) and all that it has been endowed with. It is, therefore, no wonder that “God” is the very first word in our National Anthem.

Secondly, the river in Ezekiel’s vision could be described as prosperous, because it was fresh, ever-flowing and it made fishes and plants flourish. As we well know, within the borders of Ghana, and in contrast to some of its neighboring countries, there abound some of the most valuable minerals, e.g., diamond, gold, etc. That is not all; consider our past enviable vegetation with its rich timbers. Consider too, the innumerous water bodies, as well as the seemingly endless sea bordering the south of our country. What is more, consider the invaluable human resources! In this light, God blessed us long before we first uttered this supplication: “God bless our homeland Ghana …”

Thirdly, the river in Ezekiel’s vision could be described as progressive, as from a shallow stream, its volume increased immensely as it flowed on towards the ocean. Similarly, God created the River Ghana (our nation) to be progressive in its development.

Fourthly, the river in Ezekiel’s vision was life-giving, as it made fishes and plants flourish. By, implication, then, it provided food and medicine for humans. Similarly, Ghana was meant to sustain the existence of its water bodies and vegetation as well as the life and health of its inhabitants.

Furthermore, the river in Ezekiel’s vision flowed into the sea, making the larger body of water wholesome. Similarly, Ghana was meant to positively influence the continent of Africa. This, our first and most visionary President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, understood so well. Thus, from the onset of our independence, he would declare: “The independence of Ghana is meaningless, unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.”


Unfortunately, the pristine and life-giving waters of the River Ghana have been polluted and degraded, especially, in the past three decades. 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 factors responsible for the polluted River Ghana include deficiencies in governance, traditional leadership, religious practices, etc.

Governance Deficiencies

The type of constitutional governance we practice in Ghana 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.

Traditional Deficiencies

The deficiencies of our traditional leadership 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.

Religious Deficiencies

Many of our natural water bodies have been polluted by chemicals used for galamsey. Similarly, the unsound teachings, false prophecies and superstitious practices in some churches, especially those established by self-seeking individuals, have polluted the waters of the River Ghana.


The pollution of River Ghana, notwithstanding, it can be restored to its former glory of prosperity, progress, life-giving and nations-enriching, because God is its source! How, then, can we contribute to its restoration and more fruitfulness? The message of St. John the Baptist to the people who approached the Jordan River for baptism could give us some clues (cf. Luke 3:7-14).

Firstly, “John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “… Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’” (Luke 3:7-8). This implies that the status quo or business as usual has to be abandoned. In our context, 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.

Secondly, let us all repent. Thus, the Baptist said to the crowds: “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). It was as if he told them: “Don’t come and pollute the waters of the Jordan with your present evil state of mind and heart. Without repentance, you will not experience the cleansing power of baptism even if I immerse you in the Jordan.”

Thirdly, we must all seek the good of others or the collective good. So, the Baptist said: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” (Luke 3:11).

Fourthly, we must all give up acts of greed, bribery and corruption, and rather embrace integrity, responsibility and accountability. Hence, John told the tax collectors: “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” (Luke 3:13); and to the soldiers, he said: “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” (Luke 3:14).

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; etc.


Beloved, I have been recounting the story of the River Ghana, our homeland. Long before our ancestors encountered the colonial masters, God had abundantly endowed our nation. Like the river in Ezekiel’s vision, Ghana was prosperous, progressive, life-giving and nations-enriching before and at her independence.

However, as it meandered through the harsh terrain of history, especially, in the last thirty years, the waters of the River Ghana have progressively become muddy, contaminated and life-threatening.

This notwithstanding our nation can be restored to its former glory! Therefore, 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!

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

View all posts

Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

Let’s talk about the Rosary