Two incidents in my young life have a place in memory. I recount them here briefly. The first was this. Once a friend visited me during an occasion at home and to my surprise he kept looking at me in an unusual way. It was so much that I had to be hiding from him. Well he managed to find me after the program. He actually had an awkward look on his face and asked if this was my home. I smiled and said yes. He didn’t want to believe it but that was the fact. He said, “I thought you live in a beautiful mansion.” I felt embarrassed so I just said goodbye and he left. What he said kept ringing in my mind so I wanted to actually figure out why he said that.
Well I didn’t get an answer.
On a different occasion, a female friend gave me a lift in a taxi. I got to my destination and pointed my home to the driver to stop. I realized an awkward look on her face also. I ignored and waved goodbye. The following day on our way to buy food on campus she asked if that was my home which I smiled and said yes. I asked why that question and all she could say was “I thought you lived in a huge mansion”. I laughed and I asked if it’s a crime to be in a normal building. She actually said she expected more because of my good behavior. I wondered “should one be wealthy before he/she get nurtured with good morals?
When I meet people for the first time they ask if I’m the last born. Upon answering with a no they conclude then I’m a dada ba. Chill but everyone is dada ba aii. Both parents of mine were raised in a Zongo. Attending makaranta in a zongo wasn’t a problem like being in the midst of people who destroy the etymological definition for Zongo. I felt uncomfortable around them and hated the word vehemently. Back in secular school I argued with my mates not to add the *tu* to my name just because I was shy to be associated with Zongo. My first day was hell as the class prefect wrote my name because I was chewing gum in a fashionable way. I somehow overcome their ‘ridicules’ because my cousin was in my class and I do sit by her. When she misses class it was hell because I had no one to cry or talk to. I felt uncomfortable and the best way to repay them was not to be identified as a Zongo girl out there.
At Makaranta too, most of the girls and some boys made my life hell but I couldn’t report to my parents. The best I could do was report to the accountant in the school; he eventually got tired of me so I just swallowed the pain. They had problems with everything I did and actually reported me to my family since I had a family home there. They actually said I’m arrogant and think me immoral. Weekdays were happy days and weekends were hell. Life wasn’t easy with them so I finally gave excuses and stopped.
My parents had a policy which was all siblings will attend the same school. I didn’t like the idea just because this secondary school is Islamic. It wasn’t just an Islamic school but a reformation centre so you can imagine. This meant I would meet people from Zongo. I didn’t go out for break or even say hi to my mates. My second year made me open up a little because of the prefectorial position I held. I was the Secretary to the Prefectorial Board and had to interact with students from diverse walks of life. Some were law abiding and others farer above the law. Due to my bitter experience in makaranta I had nothing good to say about Zongo. Their action made me define Zongo as ugly, uncultured, dumb, enemies, people of low self-esteem and people who hated development.
I finally had the chance to meet people from a typical zongo who are cultured and well educated. I actually didn’t realize that both my parents were from a Zongo and actually nurtured me with their values.
My point here is you don’t need to be in a wealthy class to be well mannered. Manners and etiquette is not the preserve of the elite and high-class citizens. It’s a preserve of all. Let’s allow the good training get into us other than the negatives we have created. Yes, our Zongo communities are that of slums, ugly buildings but we have the best of training you can find. As humans, the fingers aren’t equal so definitely, some might be different that’s ok. Today I’m proud to show to the world that I’m Zongo girl. Zongo is sharing the little you have, Zongo is being each other’s neighbor, Zongo is being caring, Zongo is development, and Zongo is peace and love.
God bless Zongo.
NB: The Writer is a Student of University of Ghana and also a Member of Success Book Club.
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