DAUGHTER AS THE “GOOD SHEPHERD” IN THE
CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THE EWE PEOPLES:
A LIBERATING APPROACH
Dorothy B.E.A. Akoto
With the increasing emphasis on contextualization, an attempt to produce Biblical hermeneutics for Africa or elsewhere must take into consideration cultural and traditional issues. This is important because most of the imagery of the Christian religion are foreign to and have little or no bearing on the traditional, cultural imagery and symbols of the peoples who are the recipients of the message. The imagery of sheep and shepherding is one such foreign imagery to many parts of Africa. In this essay, I will deal with this imagery as it pertains to the Ewe peoples of the Volta Region of Southeastern Ghana, West Africa. The mother of the Ewe and firstborn daughter will be portrayed as the “Good Shepherd” in the cultural context of the Ewe peoples. I am aware that what this essay sets out to do may be of relevance to women in general, but I intend to present it as a particular concern for Ewe women and Ewe peoples as a whole.
Among the Ewes of Southeastern Ghana, there is no shepherd nor is there shepherding in the literal sense of the word. The Ewes are, however, attached to the Shepherd of Psalm 23 and the Good Shepherd of John 19. They pray or recite Psalm 23 in any lifethreatening situation and find consolation in it. The Good Shepherd has become part and parcel of their culture, through the presence of the Bible. This is remarkable, given that the Ewes of Ghana have no direct experience of shepherds or shepherding. And yet, the Good Shepherd is an important part of their theological discourse. It is not clear to me precisely what features constitute the Good Shepherd of the Ewes; a cursory analysis of their appropriation of this image indicates that it rests largely on “the supra regional” imagery of Western forms of Christianity (Schreiter 1986: ix). A more detailed exploration of how this appropriation has taken place is beyond the scope of this essay. Instead, I want to take the image in another direction. Is it possible, I want to ask, that Good Shepherd imagery