Muslims, globally, are relatively not as tolerant as their Christian and Christocentric brothers and sisters. We see this streak of intolerance especially in the delicate cultural area of marriage or conjugal relationships. A Muslim man seeking the hand in marriage of a Christian woman will never be forced to convert to the Christian faith before being permitted to marry the bride-to-be of his conjugal desire. On the other hand, you would never witness any situation, except hereabouts in the civilized West, whereby a Christian man desiring the hand of a Muslim woman would be allowed to marry that Muslim-raised woman without being pressured or even downrightly being forced to convert to Islam. In Akyem-Asiakwa, the small town where this writer grew up, it happened to one of his uncles, the late Wofa Yaw Gyeemi, a passenger-bus owner and driver. I never really learned Wofa Yaw’s real birth name.
Then, of course, there is the nationally known case of Mr. Kweku Baako, Editor-Publisher of The New Crusading Guide and son of one of the staunchest associates of President Kwame Nkrumah, who converted to Islam and had to acquire the generic name of Abdul-Malik just to secure the conjugal hand of a Muslim-raised Ghanaian woman. Which is why it comes as rather contemptibly risible to hear Sheikh Aremeyaw, Spokesman of Ghana’s National Chief Imam, Alhaji Sheikh Osman Sharubutu, the revered centenarian cleric, rather arrogantly and intemperately accuse the leaders of the Christian Council of Ghana and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference of ganging up against the leadership and supplicants of the Islamic faith and the leadership of the Conference of Islamic Associations of Ghana, I suppose that’s how they are called or they call themselves, in the matter concerning some Muslim students who were recently reported to have been prevented from partaking of the month-long fasting and prayers marking the annual Ramadan festivities at the Methodist-founded and operated Wesley Girls’ Senior High School in Cape Coast, the capital of Ghana’s Central Region (See “Withdraw, Apologize for Your Unfortunate Comment – Christian Council to Sheikh Aremeyaw” 3News.com / Ghanaweb.com 5/10/21).
I don’t know the full details of this case that has riled up tensions between the leadership of the country’s Christian majority and its Muslim minority counterparts, but it well appears that the issue revolves around the social status of the Muslim youths involved and the uncompromisable responsibility of the administrators of both Wesley Girls’ Senior High School and the Ghana Methodist Bishops’ Conference, overseers of all Methodist schools in the country to jealously protect the health and well-being of all students entrusted into the care or tutelage of these Christian and Christocentric religious leaders and educators.
Initially, the case was reported to be one that involved a single individual student; but I have since learned that it may involve several Muslim girls enrolled at the Wesley Girls’ Senior High School, arguably the finest single-gender senior high school in the country, with the possible and necessary exception of St. Peter’s Senior High School, located in Okwawu-Nkwatia, in the Eastern Region, this writer’s alma mater, of course. It has also been brought to my attention that the problem may have far more to do with the minor age of the Muslim student or students in question, than the basic fact of the Islamic faith or religious persuasion of the subject / subjects of this column, and the imperative need for the authorities of Wesley Girls’ Senior High School and the leadership of the Methodist Church of Ghana at large to uphold institutional rules and regulations in ways protective of all the students without regard to creed or religious suasion.
What the preceding means is that the students concerned may be under the national voting age of 18 years old. In which case, both the administrators of the Wesley Girls’ Senior High School and the school’s Methodist Church Headquarters’ administrators may be clearly envisaged to be unimpeachably righteous in the cause of protectively preventing these minors from the physiologically grueling experience that inescapably attends the 30-day fasting and prayer regime that precedes the Ramadan.
I have been eager to hear what the Vice-President, a bona fide Muslim and Hajj Graduate, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, has to say on this most sensitive matter, being also that his own octogenarian birth mother is known to have been the very first northern-descended Ghanaian woman to have attended and graduated from Wesley Girls’ High School. On the other hand, I am also elated by the Vice-President’s strategically savvy apparent refusal not to be drawn into this rather politically and ideologically volatile issue, in view of his very certain desire to gun for the New Patriotic Party’s Presidential Nomination in the leadup to the 2024 General Election. Good for you, Uncle Bawumia! Sisi Salamatu’s junior brother!
*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
May 11, 2021
E-mail: [email protected]