Archive for May, 2017

ZanGo, An Oral History

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 by kola


Was it not Bob Nesta Marley who said that ‘in this great future we cant forget our past’ but in Africa have we really delved into our past? The history of Africa has been shrouded in white diaries and ledgers and told to us by adventurers, traders, missionaries and colonial exploiters from the archives of libraries in Europe.  What have we done as a people for ourselves and the black race going through slavery , colonialism and now neo-colonialism.

I believe as individuals we should tell the stories as we know it and any time I hear a story  of African history I have tended to share it so the information doesn’t end with me but then I strive to leave it for posterity. Inasmuch as the young these days are not bothered about the history, at least the very few who bother to be conscious of their heritage should have the material to read and learn.

It is in this spirit that i learnt a valuable history lesson about how zongos came to be formed in Ghana on a social media platform. For using social media as a learning tool and to enhance personal knowledge and development that’s a whole article and course on its own.

A simple question as ‘where are the hausas from?’ generated this whole discourse that I am going to share with you and I pray you get enlightened as I was after I had read through the whole discussion.

In the beginning there were suggestions from people on the platform saying that the hausa came from Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Cameroon, Chad and some even settled in Ghana. The consensus however was that the Hausa are the largest ethnic group and indeed scattered all over West Africa but some first settled in Prang in the Brong Ahafo region. It was revealed that the Hausa in Prang were brought in by the colonial governor as infantry to fight in the middle belt expansion wars with the Asante and therefore the Hausa spoken there is purer than that spoken in Accra.

The truth is that the Hausa as well as other tribes were in the Gold Coast before it gained independence to become Ghana. aside those that settled up north due to the Trans Saharan trade, others migrated down south to other parts of the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and then Accra as we know it now. They have therefore been in existence for over a century.

A tribe indeed does not necessarily have to be a permanent location in a country to be a citizen of that country. the colonialist scramble put borders on the ethnic groups that existed within Africa for example the Ewes were divided into ghana and Togoland, the Nzemas into Ghana and La Cote d’ivoire, the Chambas into the eastern parts of Northern region and Togo and the Mossi into parts of upper west and Burkina Faso. there are myriad examples all over Africa.

Inasmuch as all these tribes existed before independence and were in the country then, they are Ghanaian.

However where they settled became known as zongos and the question then arises how the name came about.

The word is actually ‘zan go’. it is a designated quarters for Hausa settlers. even in Northern Nigeria which is predominantly Muslim there are zangos which only refers to an area where the hausa people due to their conservatism in religion  and culture, like to keep a closely knit society.

It is said that the word ‘zan go’ is actually a combination of two words ‘zan’ which is Hausa for ‘i am’ and ‘go’ which denotes the action of going or to go. This came about as a result of the taxation put on the colonists by the British colonial masters after they brought in 700 Hausa soldiers from Northern Nigeria to form the Gold Coast Constabulary. The Hausa usually refused to pay the tax in the settlements they were given, therefore they moved out to form their own communities which meant  that if you didn’t pay the tax ‘then go’ literally. ‘mu kafa zango’ literally meant let’s set up a quarter for ourselves.

There are zangos all over and they mostly have names and especially in Accra we have places like Fadama, Sukura and Nima which has grown into a cosmopolitan potpurri of other ethnic groups so you wont really hear it being called a zango like it originally is.

Nima is not really seen as a zongo because the Hausa were not given a chance to dominate the place. Originally there was the Kador, a tribe from Burkina Faso and Mali who were dominant and then the Fulani too. the Gas gave Nima to the Futa family who were Fulani and then other tribes from Togo and Benin, the Chamba, the Kotokoli and others found it as a good entry point to serve the colonial masters and other high ranking officials  who lived in Kanda, Ridge and Cantonments. It was also a general entry point and suitable place to start when one wanted to work in the capital. life in Nima was accommodating from the people to general living in terms of living expenses. People easily get integrated into such communities and you are given all the necessary assistance as if you were part of the community. Such areas promote communal living .

Nima is known as Tunbin Giwa, The Belly of The Elephant because all the foreign tribes are found there and because they are predominantly Muslim the lingua franca is hausa and that is what passes it for a zango.

Later settlements like Madina and Ashaley Botwe came as a result of the attempt to decongest Nima because of the plague.

The formation of one of these zangos has an interesting history not far from most of the zongos that were formed in the colonial era and the case of Sabon zongo is a case study.

In the early 1905-1910 the foreigners settled in Old Accra, around the High Street, Cowlane (Fulani and Hausa tended cows, Fulani and Zamrama people were traders along the West African sub region) the Hausa traded kola from the hinterland through the Jamestown Port. there was a central imam in the community who was the ‘Leader of Muslims’ and after his death there arose a succession problem. Mallam Neinu, was a mallam from Sokoto, so a petition was sent to the colonialists who decided that to salvage the issues of succession each tribe should just have their own chief chosen by themselves.

The Hausa chose Kadiri English, the Yoruba already had \Braimah who was given a chieftaincy by the Ga Mashie mantse, and who later married a Tagbon lady with the family name Peregrino. The Peregrinos were freed slaves from Brazil who had settled in Jamestown. The Fulani chose their chief as well as the Zamramas so every ethnic group had a chief instead of one central mallam overlooking all the Muslims.

The unrest didn’t stop but however continued among the Hausa because they believed that Kadiri English, being a kola merchant and very rich had used his influence to get himself made the chief and hence there was rebellion. The Ga mashie stool decided to relocate the aggrieved Hausa people to a place several miles away from the zongo lane which was the first properly demarcated and mapped out zongo community. So they moved and the boundary was set right behind where korle bu hospital sits now right down to the International Central Gospel church premises now straight down for about a mile towards the present zongo junction and up towards Radio Gold premises.

The chieftain however didn’t stay put where he was at zongo lane but being of immense wealth and influence bought lands directly opposite the resettlement and called it Zango Tuta and designated a chief there.

Mallam Nenus son was brought to set up the Sabon Zongo which literally means new zongo because the old zongo in Accra still owed allegiance to the chief they were disgruntled against being kadir english.

This is why on Eid day the Hausa at zongo junction ride on horseback through Tudu  through Adabraka to High Streeet and go round where most of the chiefs will alight  and walk the streets of Cowlane and its environs followed by a large crowd of women and children amidst brass band and traditional music and just make merry until everyone went home.

It must be noted that most Hausa in Ghana are from Sokoto and the Hausa language  has been adulterated to suit the location. There is the original Kano /Kaduna version and the accents are different depending on the location and also social factors such as intermarriage in the communities the Hausa found themselves in.  It is said that there was even an attempt to learn Hausa amongst the constabulary ranks and that also degenerated into a kind of patois.

Hausa people are said to be very loyal and this the colonial British used to their utmost advantage and has been a legacy handed down politically such that in political expediency politicians tend to go to these zangos to pick up followers to do their bidding. However this and the communal nature I believe can be harnessed to develop such communities and improve the lives of more people that live in these communities.

Well, I have picked up a bit of oral tradition of the formation of zangos in Ghana and this enlightenment will be a key knowledge to share and know how to relate to the different ethnic groups and tribes that live in the zango communities not as negative people but as hard working people whose grandparents migrated here and they are as Ghanaian as any other Ghanaian from anywhere in Ghana.

Spread the word.

Like I always say it begins with YOU.
As told by Alhaji Rabiu Maude. 



one love marley


Lets Get It Right

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2017 by kola



it is indeed with great trepidation that i write this blog article. what is it with executing contracts in Ghana that we can not seem to get it right every time i would have loved to write a satirical piece about how we execute especially road contracts in Ghana but i am not in the mood to be creative but very blunt so that the whos it concerns will get it since they seem to be as shallow as the receding irrigation ponds in the savanna.

i will not even go into a list of the projects that i have been peeved about but then i will mention a few that affects the Ghanaian directly even though they all do.

contracts are given in Ghana and obviously they are geared towards facilitating free flow of movements of goods and services and even human transport from one place to the other albeit providing social infrastructure. but the execution of these contracts always leaves so much to be desired probably because the bidding process involves so much kickbacks that in the end the money for the contract is spread so thin that it results in very shoddy work.

let us examine the road in front of my house in Tamale that was constructed a fortnight before election and then you pass on it now and realize that it would have been better if the road had not been constructed at all. suffice it to say that we have enjoyed a relief from the dust for a couple of months.

how about the speed ramps that are springing up everywhere and i’m surprised to notice that there are even potholes on some speed ramps. how that is possible only they know. then the roundabout potholes that has been fixed nine times in four years at the Tamale Sports Stadium.

i know you are reading this and you know these are not isolated cases and we find them all around us. every time we are patching something. we have become patching technocrats.

now let us also take the eastern corridor road. i remember some government spokespersons touting that they had used it and the road was pretty passable and i was not surprised in the least when they only used the road sitting in their air conditioned offices in Accra and using computers to take satellite shots of a non existent road. and even if they did, it was in fully fitted air-conditioned v8 cars. the road is so bad that a cyclist doing a national tour for a cause called me to ask me where the road was. when i replied that by his location he was on the road, his comments are unprintable here.

to examine the timing of the projects if even they are to be executed is another thing. we never seem to get it right and it is only to the advantage and comfort of some people without considering the users albeit it is for the general good. let us take for example the renovation of the under bridge by pass, in Accra somewhere last year and the commotion it caused to commuters for the several days that this ‘renovations’ went on. people were stuck in traffic into the early hours of the morning even past midnight just to get home from work.

oh i hear the same is happening at the Tema roundabout now, just after the motorway.

somewhere early this year too the Yapei bridge which is one of the main connectors of the northern region to the south was also closed for repair works for the second time and i took to social media to complain but alas i am a lone voice in the wilderness. assuming you were travelling from Accra up north it meant that you had to get to the bridge before the closure at 1400GMT  every day or else risk waiting for it to be reopened at 0600GMT the next morning. what this meant is that all schedules within the north and the south had to be tailored around the opening and closing of the bridge for that long.

the first time the bridge was closed it was for several weeks and even in those first two weeks or so, there were no materials so the bridge was closed and yet there was no signs of work on the bridge. it happened again the second time and now i hear there is going to be a third closure.

what at all are we doing at the bridge that we can not have it done just once an for all and we keep creating this inconvenience for ourselves by people who sit in Accra and do not understand the ramifications of these decisions they make.

with regards to the other ‘renovations’ works, is it not possible to rather get to work when the roads are less busy to traffic so that workers can work round the clock to fix whatever has to be fixed instead of deciding to work at peak times of traffic?

i would have calculated this and said that all this sitting in traffic translates into man hours wasted but then i remember we are in Ghana and man hours do not really count. we sit in our offices and pretend to be working and wait for our salaries at the end of the month not guilt laden that we have nothing to show as output for the period. what is it therefore if we sit in traffic for a few hours when we do not get home to that comforting warmth at home and even that the electricity company have a say in it.

what a country!

i think it is high time the citizenry demand accountability radically and not let some bureaucrats determine how uncomfortable we get without taking into consideration how we feel whilst lining his pockets with our tax money and the freebies we offer them in the ‘responsible’ positions we have assigned them.

but this also starts from ourselves as it behoves on us to account to ourselves as citizens of this great nation. as John Kenned put it, we should be asking what can we for the nation instead of what the nation can do for us.

the president in his inaugural speech, as reiterated in his May Day speech, has asked Ghanaian not to be aloof but to do our best in participating in national development. this participation is not from the sidelines but then as national patriots it is a conscious effort of the individual to start with himself and then others can tag along. he was only saying what i have always said that it takes only you to start a patriotic revolution.

let the citizens demand accountablity from our elected leaders and civil servants.

let us arise and build a better ghana

like i always say it begins with YOU!