Accra Mail (Accra)

26 February 2004

Ghana: Why the Chief Imam Must Be Non Partisan

editorial

God being our witness, we feel duty bound to point out certain dangerous trends in our body politic that could cause harm to our dear country.

We have only one country - Ghana - and so we must do all that we possibly can to preserve the peace and stability of the country.

We have been observing the cynical exploitation of the Zongo (Islamic) communities for dirty political actions for some time now.

By some historical arrangement, the Zongos hold the largest concentrations of Ghana's Islamic communities. The National Chief Imam is currently based in one such community.

Sadly, the Zongos are beset by poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, ignorance, superstition, poor housing, and all the other factors that make life unbearable.

How they came to this sorry pass and why they continue to wallow in it is a subject that would no doubt occupy sociologists and anthropologists for a long time. These are communities that are in pressing need for renewal and renaissance.

But unfortunately they have become reservoirs for cynical politicians to exploit to commit acts of thuggery.

Recently when ex-Flt. Lt. Rawlings appeared at the NRC, the rabble rousers who accompanied him were bused in from Nima and other Zongo communities. An ADM correspondent heard them threatening openly in Hausa that if they should come to power, the rest of us would be dealt with.

Even the veiled women, a sign of Islamic piety and modesty, among them were shouting unprintable expletives against President Kufuor The individuals employed to throw shit at newspaper offices came from Nima.

Some of them have since openly confessed.

When the Accra Sports Stadium disaster took place in May 2001, it was Nima youth who were organised by the NDC to go on a rampage.

Not surprisingly, they attacked signs belonging to the NPP, even defacing the portrait of President Kufuor on a big billboard around Accra Girls High School.

It was these same people who were used to attack the "Radio Eye" demonstrators in which many people were hurt.

The bulk of the NDC organised counter demonstrators at Makola Market in 1995 against the first Kume Preko march were drawn from the Zongos. That was one provocation that needn't have occurred, if Ghana's Zongo youth had a moral authority they could look up to.

We could go on and on with examples. That is not a proud record for any community.

And this is where we think the National Chief Imam should come in. He has a moral obligation to preach peace and condemn violence. He has a moral obligation to preach against Zongo/Muslims being used as cannon fodder in dirty political escapades.

He has a moral authority to reaffirm the non-partisan nature of the office he occupies.

He has a moral obligation to help the Zongo/Muslim communities in the country to break from decades of superstition and illiteracy and move into enlightenment and above all, he has the moral obligation of championing the cause of peace in the country.

Cozying up to the NDC as he is doing is not helping national cohesion. And while ware at it, he need not cozy up to the NPP too.

He must maintain his dignity and play the role of babangida where all of us in the house are his children, without any favouritism.

So help us God.

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