On the streets of Accra, everything from taxis to restaurants and real estate offices seems to be named after “Nyame,” the word for God in the local Twi language. The trend carries into politics: The country’s largest opposition political party has the slogan, “the battle is the Lord’s,” on their campaign posters.
A recent survey by polling firm WIN-Gallup International said that 96 percent of Ghanaians are religious, the highest percentage of the 57 countries polled. Nigeria came in second, with 93 percent of people claiming religion.
About 70 percent of Ghanaians are Christians, 17 percent are Muslim, and the rest belong to traditional religions or other theologies, says Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, a professor of African Christianity and Pentecostal theology at Trinity Theological Seminary in Accra.
Even before Christianity reached the continent, religion in much of sub-Saharan Africa was practiced in public, Mr. Asamoah-Gyadu said.
“We live in a country where, unlike the Western world, even financial institutions open business daily with prayer. Parliament opens daily with prayer,” Asamoah-Gyadu says. “If you are a humanist and you are in such a society, it’s very difficult.”
Atheists are a tiny minority in Ghana; so tiny, in fact, that the WIN-Gallup survey said zero percent of Ghanaians identified as such.
Amanor Apenkro, a member of the association who identifies as atheist, says he’s lost a girlfriend and had insults yelled at him on the street because of his nonbelief.
“I don’t try to hide it, but I don’t tell people either,” Mr. Apenkro says. “Because you tell people and they think you are evil. They can’t even believe that you don’t believe.”