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PORTFOLIO

28.08.2018

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Christian fundamentalists in Ghana have successfully been recruiting believers for many years now. Pastors, priests and prophets promise miracles, while piling up the riches at the same time – mostly at the cost of the poorest levels of society.

While the influence of religious institutions is on the decline in many European societies, it appears to be on the increase the further south you look. In many of the countries that make up the African continent, religion continues to play a decisive factor in the behaviour and culture of the different societies. A particular phenomenon in this regard is the rise of fundamentalist Christian groups all across the country. Evangelist movements, such as Pentecostalism and charismatic churches, have been growing steadily over the years and are currently experiencing a strong revival.

With the aim of exploring the situation in Ghana for his project Prophets and Profits, the Italian documentary photographer, Tomaso Clavarino, travelled there with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in the United States. While travelling around the country, Clavarino was able to observe how the architecture in the communities as well as society itself, are undergoing a slow, but definite process of change. “Churches are springing up all over the place; everywhere from the capital Accra to smaller towns and communities,” the photographer reports. Their leaders claim they can help overcome fear and heal illnesses such as HIV – but, of course, only in exchange for financial compensation. It is the poorest people in particular, who see these places of worship as a last bastion of hope for a better life.

For these leaders, a ‘better life’ means a life of luxury, because the concept of prosperity gospel is wide spread throughout the country. A life full of riches is promoted as a testimony of God’s grace. In this philosophy, the word justice is only an afterthought, so that many of the followers fall into a spiral of even greater poverty and unfulfilled hopes. In Ghana, it is easy for any person to create a church and there are countless, so-called, divine representatives of God promising a better life. To this end, they use billboards, social online media and, in some cases, even own television and radio stations. Advertisements proliferate, while pastors shout out their message on the streets.

Excerpt from the LFI-story about „Prophets and Profits“. Discover the whole text and more images from the portfolio of Tomaso Clavarino in LFI 6/2018.

All images on this page © Tomaso Clavarino
Equipment: Leica M-P240 with Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 and Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Asph
© Tomaso Clavarino

Tomaso Clavarino

The documentary photographer and author was born in 1986 and lives in Italy. His work deals with a variety of social and cultural phenomena. Clavarino reports on conflicts and issues of human rights. Among the many publications he has worked for so far are Corriere della Serra, The Washington Post, Spiegel and The Guardian. In 2018 he has won the Zine Tonic Dummy Award.

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