Every student of history knows the challenges the Europeans faced in an attempt to get the locals to believe in ‘their God’. The challenges were diverse as they were persecuted while others also were challenged with the climate and the deadly malaria disease which took the lives of many in different parts of the country.
However, they stood the test of time to convert the locals to their faith making them believe their African Traditional religion was flawed and had no power of saving them if any misfortune befell them.
According to history, missionary work was concentrated in the Southern part of Ghana rather than Northern Ghana. The only mission that wore a bravery hat and denied all the odds to penetrate Northern Ghana is the Catholic Mission. The Catholic Mission climbed up to Northern Ghana through Burkina Faso with three missionaries including Father Chollet, Father Morin, and Brother Eugene. They came without the slightest idea of how the place was or was going to be but with faith that they could gain grounds there. The Catholics settled in the Upper region of Ghana precisely Upper East region.
With slave raiding in vogue, Chiefs and elders of Navrongo where they (missionaries) decided to settle gave them what was described then as ‘evil forest’ which was the abode of wild animals. The motive behind this was to get the wild animals to devour them even before they thought of raiding for slaves.
However, they stood the test of time as they cleared the area and settled for their work. They built a small church building in 1907 where they worshiped with the first set of people to be converted by the missionaries who were seven in number.
Like the missionaries found their way to Navrongo and were welcomed, I also found myself there, not for missionary work but to satisfy my curiosity about the popular Catholic Cathedral in the Northern part of Ghana.
Navrongo is 31km and a 30mins drive from Bolgatanga. Upon my arrival, I asked for Catholic link and was directed. However, to feed myself of sights and sounds in Navrongo, I walked the distance and had the fun of my life. I got to the Cathedral, met the tour guide, Elijah and found myself becoming part of history. The Cathedral which is called Our Lady of Seven sorrows according to the guide is 60m long and 14m wide.
Although there were high bell towers on the building, they have been removed because it was weighing down the strength of the building. The building is used for special occasions such as weddings and funeral and first mass is also held there.
Built in 1920, the Catholic Cathedral was built using local materials including mud bricks and was plastered with mud mortar. The floor of the building was made of a mixture of compacted gravel, cowdung, and dawadawa. The building which was built with local architecture has a magnificent history telling interior. The walls have been designed with paintings and drawings of animals telling the story of the location of the church and how it came about.
After going round the church and visiting the Grotto which was also built in 1930, I was educated and as a student of history, I broaden my scope in the history of the church in Northern Ghana.
Visitors to our lady of seven sorrows are expected to pay a fee of five cedis to have an experience of a life time. I will recommend you visit in the afternoon to have a feel of how having a quiet time with God in the Cathedral feels like.