Information on the Bajyina religion (a traditional African religion), which has a membership of between 8,000 and 10,000, and on whether the Bajyina religion has had any conflict with other religious groups in Ghana, especially the Jehovah's Witnesses [GHA19411.E]

In a 9 February 1995 telephone interview, a history professor who specializes in African history and religions at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, stated that Bajina (Bajyina) is not a religion with a membership. However, Bajina is a child born after a childless couple has consulted a deity (ibid.). The professor said that a needy couple does not have to be a member of that deity. According to the professor, the inability of a couple to have children may be attributed to infertility or infant mortality. In either case, a couple may seek the intervention of the deity and the resulting birth, if any, is called Bajyina. Literally translated, the Bajyina is a child who will "end the infertility or the series of deaths" (ibid.).

The professor said that a belief in Bajina does not conflict with traditional African religions, although religions such as Islam and Christianity, may not accept the cosmology that underlies Bajina (ibid.). For example, the Jehovah's Witness faith, which does not accept belief systems other than its own, may not tolerate anything to do with Bajina (ibid.). According to the James Madison University professor, a member of the Jehovah's Witness faith who believes in or practises Bajina may be asked to leave the church (ibid.).

Telephone interviews were held on 9 February 1995 with three other oral sources, including a professor of history at Harvard University in Boston, a representative of the Ghana Refugee Union of Quebec in Montreal and a representative of the National Council of Ghanaian-Canadians (NCGC) in Toronto. Although the three sources agreed with the interpretation of Bajyina as stated by the James Madison University professor and how Bajina may be perceived by non-African religions in Ghana, they also expanded the meaning of Bajyina.

The Harvard University professor, who specializes in the social history of West Africa from 1800 to the present, added another interpretation to Bajina (9 Feb. 1995). The professor said that Bajina is also a fertility ritual that may be performed by traditional healers or spiritualists, and added that because other religions may perceive Bajina as an animist belief form, they may not welcome believers into their midst. Although the professor is not aware of information that links Jehovah's Witnesses to conflicts with Bajina, he thought that Jehovah's Witnesses and other non-African traditional religions might reject Bajina as an un-Christian belief (ibid.).

The NCGC representative added a further interpretation to Bajina (9 Feb. 1995). According to this source, Bajina is also the name given to the newly born child of a family that has been experiencing infertility or a high rate of infant mortality. In order to increase fertility and/or prevent these deaths, an affected couple may visit a deity and to ask for protection (ibid.). The NCGC representative said that in case of a birth and after consulting the deity, the child may be named Bajina. In this respect Bajina literally means "this person has come to stay" and will "stand in the way of the deaths" experienced by the couple (ibid.)

The NCGC representative said that youngsters named Bajina can be identified by their unique hair style, which is never cut, combed or washed, in homage to the deity that ensured the child's birth and survival. According to the representative, the hair can be cut, combed or washed only after a visit to the deity (ibid.). The same source explained that this visit will "release" the child and the parents from any obligations agreed to by the parents before the child's birth (ibid.). The NCGC representative said that the "untouched" hair style may be worn for three to 10 years (ibid.).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


The Ghana Refugee Union of Quebec, Montreal. 9 February 1995. Telephone interview with representative.

National Council of Ghanaian-Canadians (NCGC), Toronto. 9 February 1995. Telephone interview with representative.

Professor of history specializing in the social history of West Africa (1800 to the present), Department of History, Harvard University, Boston. 9 February 1995. Telephone interview.

Professor of history and comparative religions specializing in African history and religions, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va. 9 February 1995. Telephone interview.