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The Trouble With Our Zongo Communities In Ghana!

July 11, 2012

As a young and proud Zongorian, and just like many other proud Zongorians both living within and outside our Zongo communities, I sometimes feel ashamed and frustrated with the behaviour and the (mis)conduct of what I call the “embarrassing few” amongst us. Every now and then we hear negative stories coming out from our Zongos. If it is not the Zongos in Accra today, it is the Zongos in Kumasi or Takoradi or elsewhere. We have virtually become the “scar” on the face of the country, just like how the former British Prime Minister describes Africa in the global context.

But what really is our fundamental problem in our Zongo communities in Ghana? As far as I’m aware, there isn’t any available empirical studies or research which outlines our problems and challenges. However, like what they say about opinions, everyone has their own opinion on our troubles. Most attribute our troubles to our leaders (by which i mean our chiefs and imams) and parents. Some too our youth. Others too to our politicians who always (mis)use us before, during and after elections!

But what is my opinion?

First of all, I think the trouble with our Zongo communities is the very nature or structure of the Zongo communities. What exactly do I mean by this? When a group of people live together and try to behave or in fact behave as if they’re different from the rest, in terms of how they live their lives and go about their activities, it sends a wrong or better put a mixed signals to the rest of us. I’m not suggesting that Muslims should live like christians. My point is Muslims in Ghana in particular have not done a good job in integrating into he Ghanaian society…very well. We may have been living peacefully with non-Muslims. However, we shouldn’t see ourselves as the underdogs and the minority that needs to be helped out from our current situations. We’ve got to live as Ghanaians who have the full and equal right just like any other Ghanaian! When there are troubles or violence in non-Zongo communities, the media reports it as an isolated incident from that community, and and not a peculiarity to the community. It is about time, therefore, we stopped seeing ourselves as marginalized and the underdogs. Yes Muslims are in the minority in Ghana. But Ghana is a secular State which technically doesn’t care about what religion one belongs to. We are Ghanaians and we should behave as such!

Secondly, and the this is the unfortunate part of the whole debate: there is no direction whatsoever in our Zongo communities. In other words we don’t have the leaders to lead our communities for us…starting from our imams, chiefs, parents, youth leaders, etc. Our leaders have absolutely no clue on how to build our Zongo communities. There is no any grand plan anywhere that all of us should be working on. And one would have thought that, as a Muslim dominated communities, our way of governance and living should be shaped by the Islamic system of governance. We have failed to inculcate the Islamic system in our way of life in Ghana. Muslims in Ghana can have a Muslim state in Ghana. That is different from having an Islamic State, which can only happen in Muslim majority countries. The Muslim state in Ghana can become a strong force only if we can bury our differences and come together to work as a collective force. For instance, the Muslim state (a name I like better than the Zongo) can become an instrument for both community and national development. Where as the government of Ghana collects taxes, the Muslim state can put in place structures  for the collection of Zakats and Waqf for the development of our communities. We can build schools of higher learning, hospitals, halal supermarkets, television and radio stations, farms, transports, law firms, accounting firms, Islamic banks, our own private security firms, etc. We can put in place scholarship schemes that will sponsor our students to read medicine, law, engineering, accounting and finance, etc. Until we realize this and work towards building the kind of Muslim state as described in the Islamic economic system, we will continue to be the most-backward group of people in  Ghana, unfortunately!

The third and the final point is that, even in the absence of a Muslim state in Ghana, all of us must contribute our quota to the development of our communities. You may forgive me on this, but most Muslims in Ghana, especially the privileged few, are very selfish when it comes to their contributions to our total development. We live the mantra “each for himself, God for us all.” When people become well-to-do, the next thing is to move out from the community with their families, and forget about the poor and the vulnerables. We cannot continue to live like that. As individuals we must all work towards addressing our problems and challenges. When each person takes a step every single day thinking about how to address our problems, I am hopeful that in the next 3 to 5 decades we can address these challenges.

The troubles with our Zongo communities aren’t impossible to address. We created those problems and only we can solve them. Nobody from anywhere can do this for us.

These are my views…what do you think?

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13 Comments
  1. issah cash permalink

    god bless u jaja

  2. Mohammed Gariba Tijjani permalink

    Thumbs up Mahmmoud you have said it all may almighty Allah bless u

  3. Mohammed hamdiyatu permalink

    Salam, i totally agree with you on all the points you’ve raised but i also think the problem not only lays with those in our zongos,our fellow muslim men and women who have climbed the educational ladder contribute to the problems within the muslim community. they sometimes feel they are no longer part of the people because of their social status and so therefore neglect the very place they were brought up or better still live a “care free” life. This is the time we the youth should rise up and fuse the secular and religious knowledge together in order to build a unified ummah for this world and hereafter. We can achieve all these if the we utilize the knowledge according to the Quran and sunnah because that is the the fundamental basic source for the muslims in every aspect and endeavours of life. Goodos to you My brother for the wonderful piece.

  4. Halima Abdulai Abu permalink

    If I may ask Mahmoud,do u stil eat frm de bowl u used to wen u wer young?people grow,behavioral changes occur n truli to ur words,onli we cud change de perception of people towards us ba de question is,to wat extent re we readi to dat wen those hu are ready to help fold their arms with their legs crossed.

  5. mustapha permalink

    Anyway i have never been in a zongo before i also sometimes perceive zongo as a failed community . But if any one follows the recent Hohoe incident, it will be recalled that the Zongo people have been very unfairly treated. How can one imagine why the Zongo people would be refereed to as aliens even though there grand parents were born in the community. Is it because of language differences that makes the Ewes as indigenous people and refer to the Zongo people as aliens? Till now they are preventing the Zongos from burying their deceased in the town but rather all the way in Kpando. They are also prevented from selling and doing business in the town. What a hell is all these. Our constitution does not give any Chief any authority over who to reside in any particular place. Thanks

  6. i always feel at ease when i hear or read something like this. We have always been hearing this day in and day out and i think we the youth of zongo,as proud as we like to be addressed should make a step to show the rest of the communities that we can also make it happen and that we can stand on our own with the of help of Allah s.w.a. As for our leaders,we should let them see the good in as and that we can make a good lead to the up coming generation. Insha Allah we have to lead them by example and if it happens so,we wil make a difference. Only if we try harder to bury our differences can our zongo be recognised. Let us al come as one BIG family like how we should. ‘Al-muslim Akhul-muslim’.

  7. rafiq permalink

    God bless u….

    • i know, gradually u are growing with the positive perception i have for u since days gone by.i know with time we shall confront the problems of zongos head on, try to change the negative perception people have as more intellectuals will be coming out to take positions that will be commensurate with their intellect.thumbs up for this write up.

  8. Mashallah….Alhadulillahi, having a member of our their community with this mindset is a great blessing to our community..the problem is that there is no unity among us, nt among our elders neigther among the youth..not until we can put away our difference and focuse on important issues then we have along way to go..the christian community especially the romans have one source of command;that is from the pope..who is the source of our(muslims) command..it is high time we do away we this division among us

  9. Ridwan permalink

    Thumbs Up Jaja…Allah Bless ya

  10. IN THIS CASE MAHMOUD HERE IS NOT ASKING FOR BLESSING, I WILL SAY MORE GREECE TO HIS ELBOW FOR FINDING THE PIN POINT, I MEAN OUR MAIN ZONGO PROBLEMS, NOW THE QUESTION IS HOW DO WE ALL CONTRIDUTE TO SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS HERE IN OUR COMMUNITY ? BECAUSE WE ALL ZONGO BOYS AND GIRLS ? THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN MR. MAHMOUD

  11. Sorry to coming into you guys as alien. I’m from Bangladesh (a 90% Muslim Country) and living in Middle East.

    I hv gone through the total article. I hv just surprised how good you all Muslims are!!! Really so good people you are!!! I don’t know how to explain— as — how much you people love your community!!!

    Where we all Muslims are united in the world, in fact, ????!!!!!!! The much I found it’s only into you guys. Salute!!!

    We Muslims cannot live together– this is fact in all over the world. Just see how many divisions we created in Islam!!!! Did our Prophet create these divisions like Siate, sunni, wahabi, ahmadia, and sooooooooooooo many????? Answer is no. How these divisions are in islam???? We will get lots of logics and answers but at last we are divided and dividing day by day into too many parts. We forgot our Golden ages.

    I am seriously saying You people are better than Bangladeshi or Indonesian Muslims who are the most largest Muslim populated Countries.

    Everywhere we see Muslims but we don’t the practice of Islam. Because, we all Muslim use Islam for our own business, politics and power. Just notice Islam is being used and thrown away after use!!!! Just some one or group of people is getting a community leader starts making free wealth.

    Mr. Najam was asking for source of command———- We muslim hv lots of source of commands and that is the biggest wrong. We all know but ignore it —- i.e.—- We have only one source of command is Qur’an !!!! Do we need any leader or Director to direct us once we have Qur’an and sunnah with us!!! We are following other communities who are doing and becoming successful. We are trying to be like them. We are coping them. But, we are not coping, following, listening the directions of our Qur’an. We are trying to be like them where they suppose to follow us. We don’t understand even how we are degrading ourselves.

    Is it necessary that Muslim should live in a group and in communities in this time !!!! I don’t understand this also. Because, If we have “the complete code of life” is with us, we have the proper Director to direct us even if there is nothing around to help us. We are already directed what to do and how to do. We are just ignoring this code of life as it is just too close to us. We started thinking it very cheap. On the other hand, we value what an human saying and doing from other community.

    Once upon a time Islamism was an Umbrella where all isams, groups and communities used to get shelter under this Umbrella. Now Umbrella is there intact in a book only which came from God but lot more other imitation umbrella has been created by other communities like democratism, communism, monarchism, dictatorship e.t.c. We muslims leaving the shadow of our big divine umbrella and running after those imitation isms.

    Please forgive me if I’m wrong in anyways.

    Allah help all of us to find ourselves!

    Thanks
    Shahnoor Ashraf

  12. Mohammed firdaus permalink

    From what i see this article was published in 2012. We should not expect any help or change from our leaders. Those who have made it and left the zongos have left. There is nothing we can do about that. What are we the youth still doing? Nothing.
    This article has helped us in knowing our problems but how do we solve it? The solution is what we should be thinking of.
    Currently what the zongo community is facing now is the habit of the youth abusing drugs. Little did we know this was going to be a major problem.
    So with this i think if we the youth start doing something based on how to change our community then i think others who have abandoned the zongo will come back to give us a helping hand.
    Anyway thank for the article. Nice one there
    I am a proud zongorian

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