The Rastafarians’ Legal Victory is a Victory for Religious Rights and Freedoms in Ghana. For the Rastafarian, dreadlocks isn’t just a hairstyle — It is a religion! And so, it was with great shock and horror when in March 2021, Achimota School issued admission letters to two Rastafarians, but on condition that they shave off their dreadlocks in accordance with the school’s academic regulations. It was with even more shock, bewilderment, and disgust when both Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) failed to intervene after the headmistress of a public school defied GES to let the boys attend school.
GES’ mandate as stated on ges.gov.gh states: “GES is responsible for the implementation of approved national pre-tertiary educational policies and programs to ensure that all Ghanaian children of school-going age irrespective of tribe, gender, disability, religious and political affiliations are provided with inclusive and equitable quality formal education.” So why is Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo, Bawumia, his Attorney General, Alan Kyeremanteng and the rest of his Cabinet, actively and blatantly engaged in suppressing and violating the religious rights of Rastafarians in Ghana?
Clearly, GES’ actions are at variance with its stated mandate; and Justice Gifty Agyei Addo acknowledged as much in the Court’s ruling a few days ago, when she said she didn’t think Achimota School and proponents, including GES and the Attorney General, had made a compelling argument as to why the two students should not be admitted, especially given their rights to education as well as their rights to express their religious freedom. In other words, according to GES’ own stated mandate.
Make no mistake, this is a historic and momentous victory for any Ghanaian who guards and values their constitutionally mandated religious freedoms. This case in the view of Albert Aheto an NDC Activist, Juliet Sackey Addison and Members of NDC REJUVENATED HUB, was clearly an attempt to subvert the religious rights and freedoms of those who believe and worship differently. But the Accra High Court, even after a vigorous defense by the Attorney General on behalf of Achimota, MoE and GES, rejected the discrimination ploy, and reaffirmed the Constitution, and the religious rights and freedoms of the two Ghanaian Rastafarians. It was a good day for religious freedoms reigneth again in Ghana.
Columnist: Albert Aheto,
MEMBER, REJUVENATED NDC HUB PLATFORM.