28.11.2003 Feature Article

Letter From The President (XXVIII): Moslems, Spruce up your image

Letter From The President (XXVIII): Moslems, Spruce up your image
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Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, this has been a week of feasts for me. I have eaten different types of meat – smoked, fried, roasted, grilled, barbecued and salted. Thank Allah for Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. It’s that time of the year again and I have to be very careful not to gain any extra weight. As a president, and an African one as that, you have to check your weight and make sure that you are fit to run – just in case an adventurous and overzealous but ignorant Kalashnikov-wielding man in uniform decides to decide for the whole nation that ballot boxes are not useful anymore. So even though I am chewing a lot of meat I am checking my weight and if ever (Allah forbid) any military adventurer strikes I will break Joseph’s record as he ran away from Pharoah’s wife. I wish to congratulate all Moslem’s in our dear country for successfully completing the Ramadan fast and topping it up with a very memorable Eid celebration, which has ensured that for the next six months Mama Tess wouldn’t have to go the Makola to buy meat – well, unless she wants to be wasteful. Well, the Moslems have completed the Ramadan and have celebrated the Eid in a grand style but I suppose it is not too late for me to offer some admonishment to the Islamic community in Sikaman. I know very well that the matters of religion can be very delicate and there are grave consequences for being tactless whenever one decides to write about religion. So my intention is not to provoke anyone to riot in religious fervour. I just want to suggest ways in which I suppose our Moslem brethren (and sistren, of course) can reach their fullest potential and contribute their quota to the development of Sikaman. If you are Moslem and any of the issues I am going to raise happen to touch too many of your overzealous nerves, please, don’t take it upon yourself to destroy life or property on behalf of Allah. He is mightier than you are and he does not need a feeble mortal like you to wage his battles for him. If the urge to destroy becomes so strong and almost uncontrollable for you, please, smash your head against the nearest wall before you even think of drawing a sword or throwing a stone. I wish to encourage my Moslem brothers and sisters to clean up their communities. It is true that our country is very filthy. But no one can deny the fact that the Moslem suburbs in our cities and towns are among the filthiest and smelliest areas in the country. I have been pondering over this issue for quite sometime now but I still can’t fathom why places like Ashaiman, Nima, Sabong Zongo and many other Zongo in this country are so dirty. The various district assemblies have mostly neglected the Moslem communities and failed to provide the necessary infrastructure for garbage collection and disposal. However, the saying that “cleanliness is next to godliness” applies equally to Moslems and I expect my brothers and sisters in the so-called zongo communities to take action. My humble appeal is for all Moslems to get their shovels and brooms and clean up their communities. Please go out and show the waste management authorities that even without their support or prodding you can do whatever is humanly possible to keep your communities clean. To provoke the various city authorities into action, I suggest that you collect as much garbage as you can and dump it in front of the offices of the DCEs. There is this general perception that Moslems have a tendency to resort to violence at the least provocation or whenever the opportunity presents itself. Perhaps, it’s an unfair generalization. But I think there is some truth in this. Two of my biggest security headaches since I assumed the presidency occurred in predominantly Moslem communities. After the May 9 tragedy of 2001, I was shocked at the speed with which the youth of Nima mobilized themselves to stage running battles with police officers even with mournful tears still flowing from their eyes. I am yet to overcome my disappointment at the fact that some Dagbon citizens, whom, I believe profess to be Moslems, masterminded and executed the plan for the assassination of the Ya Na. I must say that the murder of the Ya Na gave me a serious recurring headache which, doctors say, cannot be cured – a well calculated dose of an APC/codeine mixture has not helped. I am told that this headache will plague me until I decide to kick some bucket. When Jerry Boom’s men wanted some young men to deploy shi*t-bombing arsenal at some newspaper houses in Accra they employed Moslem Youth. Islam is a religion of peace – but quite a significant number of its adherents in this country have shown that they cannot ignore provocation at all and that if you slap them on one cheek they wouldn’t mind retaliating with four heftier slaps (two on each cheek). The time has come now for Ghanaian Moslems to show the nation that they are peace-loving people. I want those my Moslem brothers (and the few sisters) who are easily tempted to resort to violence to seek some religious and psychological lessons from the Chief Imam. He’s a very calm gentleman and I believe that if you sit under his feet for just a couple of weeks you will lose all inclinations to violence. I thank Allah that when the Bushman went into Afghanistan to start his war on terror he didn’t find any Ghanaians in the al-Qaeda caves. It means that the few violent Ghanaian Moslems have not gone international yet. I pray to Allah that the Chief Imam will be able to change the minds of his few violent followers before they even contemplate going international. Even though I have stated time and again that I will like the Bushman to bombard this country so that the burden of building the nation falls squarely on his shoulders, I don’t think we have to give him an excuse for bombing us. You see, whenever he has had an excuse to bomb a country, the Bushman had smashed everything to smithereens and left the scene without so much as a second glance to check the extent of damage caused and how he could help to restore what has been destroyed – just look at Afghanistan. But whenever he attacks and destroys without a good excuse, he stays on to lead the efforts at rebuilding even though his boys are waylaid and killed at street corners with legendary monotonous regularity. Iraq is a clear example. So, my simple appeal to my Moslem brothers and sisters is for them to shirk violence. If shirking violence is too difficult for them, I will entreat them to keep their violent actions in-country and never think of going international by joining al-Qaeda or any of its international cells like Jamaya al-Islamiya. My final admonishment to Moslems on the occasion of the Eid-ul-Fitr festivities is on marriage and family planning. I know that the Holy Qu’ran allow Muslim men to marry as many as four wives. I also know that a lot of Moslem men aspire to take advantage of this Qu’ranic privilege. But, having successfully ushered this nation into HIPC, I wonder if there are any Moslem men left in this country who can adequately cater for more than one wife. Those Moslems who have had to tighten your belt to such a point that your stomachs hurt should not think of accessing the Qu’ranic privilege of marrying more than one wife. If you say “times are hard” four times in less than an hour you are not so privileged and the moment you decide to take on another wife, you will not only be creating problems for yourself. You are likely to give birth to child you cannot raise, who will grow up hungry and frustrated, with a very low threshold for provocation and an accompanying proclivity for violence. His violent binges will give me an incurable headache and tarnish the image of our peaceful religion – Islam. Barka da Sanla! Excellently, J. A. Fukuor [email protected]

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