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RE: Creation of Imam in Ashanti region
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Opinions of Thursday, 31 October 2013

Columnist: Shariff, Shuaibu Musah

RE: Creation of Imam in Ashanti region

A rejoinder by the zongo community

The embodiment of the Zongo Community Sultan Alhaji Umar Farouq Saeed the Sarkin Zongo and the entire Zongo Community attention was drawn on a feature article publication with the above heading which appeared in the Ghanaian times of Monday the 23rd of September, 2013and wish to request for a space to rejoionder.

In fact Zongo has gone far and passed beyond the imagination of the writer of said sad article in our opinion. And if not because of distortion of facts, the Zongo Community would have ignored the article just as done with a similar one written by the mission during the installation of the current regional chief Imam Sheikh Alhaji Abdul-Mu’min Haruna II, on the 25th of June 2011. No one in the Zongo Community doubts his competence as he is there based on merit and deserves to be there just like any other qualified person in the Zongo Community.

The Zongo Community especially the Hausas have been living in peace and harmony with the Asantes and Asantenkramom most of whom are descendant of Mande ethnic group since time immemorial and thus not the time for Mr. Khalid Ahmed to start to sow seeds of rivalry and unnecessary tension and confusion between us.

The current regional Chief Imam Sheikh Abdul Mumin II, his late grandfather Sheikh Abdul-Mumin I and his late uncle Hajj Ismail (may their souls rest in perfect peace) and all the predecessors have lived in peace, harmony and enjoyed a good working and cordial relationship with the Zongo Communities as they always support one another.

It is also of interest for Mr. Khalid Ahmed to know that the Asantenkramon just like the Zongo people serve the Otumfuo and pay allegiance to the golden stool as seen during the celebrations of Akwesidae festivals and other activities at Manhyia Palace. The Zongo people through Regional Imam just like Asantekramom pray and offer special prayers always to any occupant of the Golden stool at all times. No wonder just recently the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II celebrating Idil Fitr with the Muslim Community at the Kumasi Central Mosque acknowledged the Hausas contributions in putting down in writing of Manhyia Palace court proceedings, because the Asantes did not know how to write at that time. The work can still be found at Manhyia Palace mesuem. We hope Mr. Khalid Ahmed the nuclear scientist and accomplices with all intent and purposes are not trying to wipe out the Zongo people from the Imamate of Ashanti Region especially the Hausas.

Before delving into putting the record straight of which of the Otumfuo gave the land and to whom, where the Kumasi central mosque is now situated, let’s first of all address the issue of “Our Non-Ghanaian Muslim Brothers”.
It is sad and rather unfortunate if the writer sees the Zongo Communities especially the Hausas as aliens and thus not suppose to be Imams of the Kumasi central mosque again. Mr. Khalid Ahmed and accomplices should know that the zongo people especially the Hausas shall resist legally any group or movement intents to deny them of their citizenship right. Most brothers and sisters from the north like the Hausas have also forgotten their root. They feel comfortable and integrated as citizens of zongo rather than the place they come from as no one knows them there. Most zongos developed simultaneously viz-a-viz most of the towns and villages or even sometimes some of the towns and villages grew closer around most of the zongos founded by the Hausas. No wonder most of the zongos are found in the heart of the city centres across the country.


The tradition is that, the Kumasi central mosque which is Allah’s House belongs to the Sarkin Zongo as the head and the other Zongo Muslims chiefs. It therefore means that the regional chief Imam no matter from which ethnic group he comes from belongs to the Sarkin Zongo Chief with all other tribal Muslim chiefs having tribal Imams too.

These tribal Muslim Imams form the council of Ulamau & Imams under the leadership of the regional chief Imam who also belongs to Sarkin Zongo. The writer should know and understand that the aliens in Ghana have since left after the 1969 aliens compliance order.

In this 21st century, there are no more conquest, occupations and expansion of territories by either a country or an ethnic group as the world is already settled with all its inhabitants and demarcated boundaries known. Claiming of another country citizenship in this modern world is mainly due to economic reasons as no one wants to leave where his umbilical cord is buried. The Zongo people vote and their ancestors also voted during the plebiscite and for that matter the current crop of Ghanaian Hausas are Ghanaian indigenes just like you. They do not have any place to go and can call home apart from Ghana their land of birth.

They will continue to remain here and see to the development and progress of Ghana just like their forefathers did for more than 500 years ago before the formation of modern day Ghana. Nobody calls our African brothers taken to Americas as aliens but rather citizens with equal right just like anybody found on that particular country. President Obama of USA for example would not have become the President of America considering his father a recent immigrant to the United States. Our brother H.E Paul Boateng was once a secretary to the cabinet in the Great Britain and later as an ambassador of great Britain to South Africa and countless examples can be sighted with African brothers and sisters in western world, the Caribbean’s and the North and South America. In the current and previous administration are /were some ministers of state of zongo indigenes who even became cabinet ministers What do you say about the off-spring of Otumfuo Agyemang Prempeh I and his entourage sent to Seychelles Island which also have a lot of Indians. How about the late Vice President of the Republic of Ghana Alhaji Aliu Mahama who is a Hausa paternally. So also with people like Jake Obetseibi Lamptey, former president Rawlings and a recent indication by the NPP flagbearer Nana Akuffo Addo that the children are maternally Yorubas when the 3rd generation of Yorubas paid a courtesy call at this residence to commiserate with him after the supreme court verdict. The former former United Nation general secretary H.E Dr. Kofi Annan’s children, the late first president of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s children-Ms. Samia Yaba Nkrumah, the current CPP Chairperson and the brother Sekou Nkrumah and many other people fall in same category.

How about Mr. Khalid Ahmed off-springs being married to Hausa or moshie person will be described? The crop of these current zongo people are just like these people mentioned above and as such definitely not aliens or “our non-Ghanaian Muslims brothers”. For instance the current sarkin zongo Alhaji Umar Farouq saeed and the Yoruba chief Alhaji Ahmed Rufai Alao mothers are from the Gonja ethnic group. The late Sarkin zongo Alhaji Ibrahim Dan Tsoho’s mother is also from wala tribe just to mention a few and how heterogeneous the society of zongo look like.
A mention can also be made of Nzimas in Ghana and Nzimas in cote d’ivoire, Ewes in Ghana and Ewes in Togo, the Dagartis, Gurunshis, Busangas etc in Ghana and that of Burkina Faso. All these ethnic groups and many other more along the international boundaries of Africa and those in the hinterland not along the borderline of a country including the hausas in Ghana and in other countries, the Ashanti’s in Ghana and the Bawule in cote d’ivoire may or may not have an ancestral lineage with one another but are bounded culturally and traditionally together in terms of beliefs, norms and altitudes as same group of people but found in different locations of africa
“An Imam must be from among people of the area where the community is sited”. A Ghanaian, surely, can be an Imam in Kano or Maiduguri or even anywhere in the world if he had lived there for more than 500 years ago and were part of the formation of that particular country and can only be impossible if just migrated there as an illegal immigrant. What do you say about the current blackman Imam by name Adil Kalbani in Harami Mecca in Saudi Arabia amongst the other crops of Imams in the Arabian peninsula. Bilal the blackman from Habasha - Ethopia and Salmanu Farisi a Persian from Iraq during the period of prophet Mohammed (SAW) who all were non-Arabs but with prophet playing important roles at that time and got acknowledged by the prophet.

A brief Analysis of Ghanaian Hausas perceived as Aliens.
There are three (3) categories of Hausas of Ghana whom may either be with or without ancestral lineage from countries like Nigeria, Niger, Cameron, Chad, Sudan, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Saudi Arabia etc. where the Hausas are also found. In all the cases none of the three categories can also be described as “aliens” or “our non-Ghanaian Muslim brothers as intimated by Mr. Khalid Ahmed.
The three categories are as follows:
1. The Hausa Traders and Mallams or spiritual leaders
2. The Hausa Soldiers
3. The indigenous Hausas

The Hausa traders/ Mallams and soldiers were neither illegal immigrants nor unwanted traders at the time of arrivals and before the coming of colonial masters and the birth of modern day Ghana and during the period of colonialism under one British protectorate using same passport and currency. The indigenous Hausas however, were those who abandoned their homes and villages when they came into contact with the Hausas traders and Mallams as spiritual leaders.
The Hausa traders and spiritual leaders mostly settled around the Salaga area engaging in trading activities such as kola nuts, salts, gold dusts etc. and spreading Islam whiles providing spiritual protection to the chiefs in addition to praying for the development of the communities before the flourishing of trans-Sahara Atlantic slave trade. The Hausas stood side by side with any community they found themselves and fought alongside the community in case of any attack by an enemy to the community. The Hausas can therefore be described as partners in progress and not as traitors or conqueror for expansion purposes.

The Hausa soldiers were those brought in by the British Royal Armed Forces to serve in the West Africa frontier forces by the British colonial masters. Most were settled around Sofoline, Bompata and other areas of the country after retirement. These retired soldiers having spent most their productive age here and like the traders and mallams have no any other place to go and could not trace their origin either, let alone of where they come from just like our brothers and sisters taken from Africa to America to work in plantations and got integrated into the society as citizens after the abolition of slave trade in the 19th century.

The Indigenous Hausas as the third category were those who abandoned their homes & villages to become middle men when they came into contact with the Hausa traders and mallam spiritualist. To explain this is to illustrate with this classical example as most names of towns & villages found mostly in countries have meanings in the local language of where the village or town is found and located. The names of town and villages like Kumasi, Obuase, Ankase, Beposo, Nyamebekyere, Kyekyewere, Kumawu etc. in Ashanti Region have meanings in Twi language.So also there are many towns, villages and rivers with Hausa names like “Jaji” – forest, “Masaka” – weaving, “Giden Turu”– juju house, “Zongo makeri” – Blacksmith town, “Gulbi” – river, “kasoa” – market, “Somanya”-love elders,”Ayikuma”-do it again etc. found in Ghana map of which neither you nor us did produce. And for suburbs within big cities having names like “shukura” - thanks, “Nima” - blessing, “sawaba” - mercy, “Fadama” - wet land, “Yelwa” -abundant, “Gameji” - this is the one who hears, kakasunanka - what is your name, “Mallam”-teacher etc. abundant in most urban settlements. Kete krachi town name for instance came about as a results of the person you refer in the article mallam Umaru Krachi a renowned Hausa man Islamic scholar who and others always sit on mats to write and thus being described as kete krachi by the people

The indigenous Hausas coming into contact with these trade merchants & spiritual leaders took advantage of same Hausa language spoken to become middlemen as a result of trading activities and the desire to learn Islamic religion at that time, and further boosted and boomed with the coming of the trans-saharan Atlantic slave trade activities by the European along the salaga area. The Hausas for these reasons had to move in all nooks and cranny of the country searching for merchandise and at the same time founding Zongos which served as a temporary camp but later became a permanent place of abode. Who is a settler and who is an indigene in a place where all helped to develop together. The Zongo certainly are integral part of the community and for that matter part of Ghanaian society settlements.
The retired military personal brought by the colonial masters also found it convenient to settle amongst these group of people because of same Hausa language spoken and share of same Islamic religion, culture, traditions, beliefs, norms and attitudes which kept them together at all times. The Hausas just like the Ashantis wherever they are found in the world maintain their unique cultural and traditional identity with their Sarki or Ohene as the leader or head of the community.

One of the retired military Imam by name Malam Ghadi for instance became the sarkin zongo in Ashanti region in the year – 1900 – 1902.
Hausa as a lingua-franca of most the zongo communities in the country, one may say perhaps is the third most widely spoken language after Twi and English in terms of coverage area in the country. These categories of people and their language cannot be described as aliens. The Hausa language like Twi and English has served and will continue to serve as a bridge of communications and facilitating trade and other economic activities amongst different ethnic groups in the country.

One will not be wrong to say that, it will be very difficult to impose a foreign language on a group of people in a country without the indigenous people involved, if not by colonization either through indirect rule or policy of assimilation. Unlike the Europeans the Hausas have no history of using force for their language to be spoken throughout the country. It is not by mistake now that, Twi is being spoken throughout the country. The Akan are certainty the majority ethnic group in the century and are engaged in many trading activities just like the Hausas did centries ago.

The writer Mr. Khalid Ahmed the nuclear scientist and accomplices perhaps want to see us wiped out in Ghana as non-citizens, perhaps he was part that engaged in grand scheme of affairs to see to taking off air Hausa language on GBC F.M. station in Ashanti region. Hausa has a rich history in Ghana broadcasting as amongst the first country in the world to start transmitting and broadcasting the language in Ghana before even radio stations like the BBC, Radio France, Voice of Germany, Voice of America. Radio Russia, Radio China, Radio Egypt Radio Saudi Arabia etc.

The Zongo people especially the Hausas, Moshies, etc have contributed their quota in one way or the other to the socio-economic and political development of this country including provision of security be it in the Ghana Police Force or the Armed Forces. The Ghana police force for example if you may care to research the police archives will see that, the nucleus of the force was started by they Hausa Police constables. And for the military the moto on the logo of the Ghana Armed Force as we speak today is written in Hausa as “kulun shiri” using Arabic characters meaning “Ever ready”.

The contributions of the moshies in the cocoa industry for example can be equalled to that of brothers and sisters taken to the Americans to work in the plantations which boosted and contributed to the economies there.

The current generation of Zongo people therefore are children and grandchildren of founding fathers of the Zongo Communities. The current inhabitant are thus Ghanaians just like you. Zongo now is a tribe and can be described or classified as one of the ethnic group in the country and also as tribeless like the American society. We see ourselves as one people despite the society being heterogeneous in nature. One’s tribe is immaterial in marriage and we inter-relate amongst ourselves during any social gathering such as wedding, naming ceremonies, funerals etc. The leadership still holds despite some trying to see to its disintegration.

In this modern era of already settled world hardly do people claim citizenship of another country even if found within the artificial boundaries created by the Europeans during the petition of Africa. And if they did, is just for economic prosperity, and will certainly repatriate the economic gains back home to their country of birth if succeeded.

A brief history of Kumasi central mosque
To put the brief history of Kumasi Central Mosque and not Asawase Central Mosque in its perspective is to make Mr. Khalid Ahmed the nuclear scientist to know and understand that, the parcel of land where the central mosque is now situated was given by Otumfuo Osei Agyemang Prempeh II at the request of Ahmadu Baba the Sarkin Zongo. The first place given was where the Asawese central market is now situated. But a request for the site to be changed was made upon the advice given by the late Alhaji Atta Commander which was granted by the Otumfuo Osei Agyemang Prempeh II. The ground breaking for the work to begin was done by late Sheik Ibrahim Anyars with the assistance of Sheikh Imam Ciromah the regional Imam who reigned for almost 20 years from 1949-1969.

The Muslim community under the auspices and leadership of Ahmadu Baba, the Sarkin Zongo together with the Moshie chief, Fulani chief, Yoruba chief, Wangara Chief, Gurunshi Chief, Kotokoli Chief, just to mention but a few provided protection, security & guidance to Otumfuo Osei Prempeh II when problem ensued between him and his people. This is not the subject of discussion but may wish to find out if you care. It was in appreciation of this and time ripped for a new mosque as a result of growing Muslim population and an increase in trade activities in Kumasi that necessitated a request by the Sarkin Zongo Ahmadu Baba to the Otumfuo Osei Agyemang Prempeh I for a land to build a new central mosque which was granted by the king.

All the documentation and the lease of the Kumasi central Mosque is in the name of Ahmadu Baba the Sarkin Zongo. The major contributors at the time when an appeal for fund was lunched in front of ‘Fada’ (Sarkin zongo palace) near the old central mosque at R/hill for the construction of a new Kumasi central mosque to begin were the Sarkin Zongo Alhaji Amadu Baba donating £500 in addition to 100 bags of cement, Malam Sani £100, chief Alhaji Issaka of Banda community £500, Fulani chief £50, Alhaji Garba Karami a brother to Sarkin Zongo Ahmadu Baba £ 500, totalling £1650 in all.
Ahmadu Baba the Serkin Zongo paid for all expenses of drawings, documentation and other overhead cost for the work to begin. Alhaji Umaru Maifata asked all rents proceeds from his house be used to augment the work at the Kumasi central mosque

The chronology of Imams and Naibs of Kumasi central mosque
Imam Sule was the longest serving Imam for almost 45 years in Ashanti Region during the period of sarkin zongo malam Usmar between 1905 to 1940. Then came the reign of Imam Ciromah for almost 20yrs between 1949-1969 which was during the reign of Sarkin Zongo Malam Ali I in 1949. It was after the death of Imam Ciromah in 1969, that confusion set in on the Imamship of Kumasi in Ashanti region on who becomes the next Naib. i.e -Deputy Imam. Naib Alhaji Garba Hakeem to late Imam Ciromah was elevated to become next regional chief Imam. Malam Kataki whom we understand a Dagarti by tribe was chosen to be the next Naib. Some group amongst the Kumasi Muslim community opposed and led to the closure of the Kumasi central mosque for about 99 weeks without Friday prayers. It was re-opened by the late Prime Minister of the republic of Ghana Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia after the late Justice F. D. Anan a former speaker of parliament adjudicated and ruled on the matter (Ref judgement: suit No L.C. 73/68 Muslim community Kumasi v Muslim mission Kumasi in the high court of Ghana held in Kumasi on the 18th of February 1970.

In this ruling it was decided that the community should hold on the Imamship and the mission the Naibship. But upon plead by the late Dr. Busia the then Prime Minister of the second republic of Ghana at the re-opening of the Kumasi central mosque suggested for rotational between them. This has been like that until the Hausas relinquished their position to the current Regional chief Imam Sheikh Alhaji Abdul-Mu’min Haruna II. The enjoyed and continues loyalty loyalty and the cordial relationship that exist between the Hausas and the Asantenkramon Imams like the late sheikh Haruna I Mallam Ismail and their predecessors and of course the current chief Imam Abdul Mumin Haruna II contributed to this feat.
When Imam Gariba Hakim passed away, Imam Muntaka a Dagombaman became the next Imam when Mal Ahmed Gonja the chosen Naib to replace Mallam Kataki could not continue his naibship due to ill-health. Malam kataki was therefore taken out of race because of the confusion – that arose but continue to play important role in the Zongo community as an opinion leader. Imam Muntaka ascended to Imamship and the late son of Imam Chiroma Mallam Ahmadu Chiroma a Hausaman became his Naib.

Naib Malam Ahmadu Ciromah was elevated to imamate after the death of Imam of Muntaka and Malam Imrana a Gonja was made the Naib. After the death of Imam Ahmadu Ciromah, Malam Imrana the Naib became the regional chief Imam. The Naib to the elevated Imam Sheikh Imrana should have actually come from the community but the Hausas recollecting and reflecting of the cordial relationship that existed between them and the Asentenkramom decided to give their position of naibiship to Sheik Abdul Mumin Haruna II who ascended to the position of Imamata after the death of Imam Imrana. The choice of Naib this time around again should have gone to the Hausas but declined once again and the position given to Sheikh Mal a Zakaria Abdul Rahman Sulaiman a Dagombaman for peace and tranquillity to prevail at all time. From the above analysis one cannot deny the fact that it will be the turn of the community if any vacancy do appear as the missions are twice are represented in both scenarios.

Mr. Khalid Ahmed should know and understand that we are all Ghanaians just like him and if it is turn of Hausas to take the mantle of Imamship or a deputy Imamship of Kumasi central mosque, why not?
The sarkin zongo is the embodiment of the Zongo community with all the other tribes living in the Zongo also having their tribal chiefs and Imams living side by side in peace and harmony with the Asantes and Asentenkramom and any other ethnic group living in the Asanteman land be it Muslims, Christians or even non – believers
However, any group of people in any part of the world with this tremendous amount of History as analysed above should not be classified as non-citizens in the 21st Century except by an ignorant person.
The real Zongo people vote as indicated earlier on as citizens and have never been discriminated upon during voting despite their difficulties.
The people of Zongo especially the Hausas of Ghana have their challenges as one of the ethnic groups in Ghana and people like Mr. Khalid Ahmed perhaps a descendant of mande ethnic group who got assimilated as an Asantenkrom and accomplices should not compound problems if not assisting by raising passion of describing us aliens or “our non-Ghanaian Muslims brothers”. And assuming without admitting even if such is the case then we expect people like Mr. Khalid and accomplices in the Islamic fraternity to come to our aid and not to banish us.
There are numerous problems just to mention a few like indiscipline, poverty, education, sanitations and good drainage system, leadership crisis, religious conflicts among various Islamic sects, general unemployment, tribal chieftaincy crisis, Intestate succession PNDC law 111 which is in conflict with our Islamic system of sharing property of a deceased person as Muslims, securing job after university education for the very few privilege zongo graduants and many more other problems confronting the zongo communities need to be resolved. How to address these and many other issues in the zomgo communities has always been a challenge and thus we expect Mr. Khalid Ahmed and accomplices to leave us or help us solve the problems instead of revisiting a problem that has been resolved in the early 70s.

In conclusion the zongo people would like to appeal passionately to Mr. Khalid Ahmed the nuclear scientist and accomplices to allow sleeping dogs lie as we do not want to experience any closure of the Kumasi central mosque once again even if it is for a week. After all there are so many mosques scartted in and around Kumasi where Friday prayers are always being said.

Thank you

Alhaji Shuaibu Musah Shariff Alhaji Malam Suleiman
Chairman zongo community Chairman Hausa Youth community.
asmshariff@yahoo.com

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