Since former president John Agyekum Kufuor was “promoted” to become a Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) recently, a lot of Ghanaians on social media have put all sorts of interpretations to it, with the religious bunch even calling it devilish. UGLE was founded in 1717 and is the oldest masonic Grand Lodge in the world. It is the governing body for the majority of freemasons within England and Wales with lodges in other, predominantly ex-British Empire and Commonwealth countries outside the United Kingdom.
So what is freemasonry and why is linked so much to occultism? Freemasonry is one of the world’s largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. Its members come from all walks of life and meet as equals, irrespective of their faith, ethnic group or position in society. Public declaration of membership of Freemasonry is optional.
Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients. The degrees of freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow (now called Fellowcraft), and Master Mason. These are the degrees offered by Craft (or Blue Lodge) Freemasonry. Members of these organisations are known as Freemasons or Masons.
Freemasonry describes itself as a “‘beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”. The symbolism is mainly, but not exclusively, drawn from the manual tools of stonemasons – the square and compasses, the level and plumb rule, the trowel, among others. A moral lesson is attached to each of these tools, although the assignment is by no means consistent. The meaning of the symbolism is taught and explored through ritual.
All Freemasons begin their journey in the “craft” by being progressively initiated, passed and raised into the three degrees of Craft, or Blue Lodge Masonry. During these three rituals, the candidate is progressively taught the meanings of the Lodge symbols, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other Masons that he has been so initiated. The initiations are part allegory and part lecture, and revolve around the construction of the Temple of Solomon, and the artistry and death of his chief architect, Hiram Abiff. The degrees are those of Entered apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. While many different versions of these rituals exist, with at least two different lodge layouts and versions of the Hiram myth, each version is recognisable to any Freemason from any jurisdiction.
So apart from the former president, who are some of the other big names in Ghana who have been linked to the freemasonry?
1. Otumfuo Osei Tutu II
Shocking right? Don’t be. Otumfuo Osei Tutu II The Asantehene is said to be a well-known Freemason.
2. Henry Martey Newman
Henry Martey Newman The chief of staff during the presidency of the late former president John Atta Mills is said to be a member of the organization.
3. Professor Christopher
Ameyaw-Ekumfi The current board chairman of the Ghana Infrastructural Investment Fund is also reported to belong to the organization.
4. Otwasuom Osei Nyampong VI
Otwasuom Osei Nyampong VI(Kamenahene of the Akwamu) Known in private life as Yaw Adjei, he is the grand master of the Grand Lodge of Ghana. He is reported to have also been active in providing the public with more information about Freemasonry.
5. Dr Alex Tweneboah