Orangemen on the Equator
Founded 220 years ago, the Orange Order is a Protestant organisation which, its members say, stands for civil liberties, fraternity and faith. However in the divided society of Northern Ireland it is rarely out of the news. Many Irish Nationalists and Republicans view it as an anti-Catholic, triumphalist organisation and disputes over some contentious Orange parades have generated headlines around the world.
What is less well known is that the Orange Order is these days found in 9 countries around the world including New Zealand, home of the current Imperial President of the World Orange Council . Five thousand kilometres away from Ireland, there are Orange lodges made up of African men and women. Members of the Orange Order in Ghana share the same emblems and follow the same rituals as their brethren in Northern Ireland. And while there may not be sectarian conflict in their homeland, the Orangemen on the Equator feel they too are misrepresented and misunderstood.
Chris Page travels to West Africa to find out how the Orange Order took root there. Comparing the African brand of Orangeism to that found in his native Northern Ireland, he peers into the soul of an organisation which has been characterised by its ability to survive. While members in Ulster say they have been demonised by Irish Nationalists opposed to their Unionism, their counterparts in Ghana describe their challenges in the face of prejudice from churches and wider society.