On February 13, 2011, a letter to the editor erroneously characterized as an article by the author and sensationally captioned “Nana Addo Must Come Again for Misrepresenting Jihad” appeared on the website of AfricaNewsAnalysis.com, where I am regularly featured in a column titled “Point-Blank with Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe.”
In the said letter, the author, an Imam Ahmed Musah, took umbrage at a news report he claims to have read in the pro-National Democratic Congress Enquirer newspaper, in which the 2012 Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was quoted to have called for an “Akan Jihad.”
In his letter, Mr. Musah, without having sought any clarification from either Nana Akufo-Addo or one of his officially designated representatives, angrily and erroneously assumed that the NPP flagbearer had, indeed, called on Akans to, somehow, constitute themselves into a phalanx of religious zealots poised for an all-out war with the implicitly largely non-Akan members and operatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress.
That Mr. Ahmed Musah is a bona fide member of the Ghana Muslim Students’ Association (GMSA), which he claims to be registered as a stakeholder of the National Youth Council (NYC), is rather unfortunate. Rather unfortunate because the writer projects what sociologists label as a “Herd Mentality” onto the Akan ethnic group without any apparent qualms, whatsoever, even while also vituperatively carping Nana Akufo-Addo for allegedly making use of an Islamic term of whose usage and rhetorical context the writer had only second-hand information.
In other words, our logical contention here is to simply ask: What makes Imam Ahmed Musah presume, somehow, that all Akans belong to the New Patriotic Party? And also that in allegedly calling the Akan people to vigorously defend themselves against well-documented, NDC-sanctioned anti-Akan atrocities via the “partial” use of the term “Jihad,” Nana Akufo-Addo had automatically implied either that all Muslims were war-mongering terrorists or pathologically prone to a violent disposition. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Needless to say, Nana Akufo-Addo would be the first to enlighten the complainant about the fact of him having been brought up in the predominantly Muslim district of Nima/Neema in Accra. And even more importantly, the NPP Presidential Candidate’s fluency in the Hausa language, as well as having personally socialized with Ghanaian Muslims of all stripes and sects/denominations.
Even more important must be asked whether, in fact, Imam Ahmed Musah owns any copyright to the use of the word “Jihad” by non-Muslim Ghanaians? Simply stated, it is tantamount to the unpardonable height of arrogance for Mr. Musah to claim proprietary rights over the use of the Arabo-Islamic word “Jihad,” merely because he is a practicing Muslim and an “Imam” to boot!
Well, the critic may not know this, but this present writer who is a Christian, nonetheless, has such great respect for Islam that on several occasions, he had done the “Juma/Dwuma” – worshipped at the mosque!
I am also both a scholar and professor of African History, the subject-specialty of my doctorate, at least partially, and knowledgeable enough to fully appreciate the grim fact of Arabs having conquered a full-third of the African continent – between the 7th and the 13th centuries via the brutal military application of the term “Jihad”! What of the Al-Mohads/Almoravids that we read about in our history books? There are, of course, other variations of the preceding term.
In other words, what is Imam Ahmed Musah rather luridly and offensively attempting to do here: prohibit non-Muslim Ghanaians from using the term “Jihad”? What chutzpah! What effrontery! What obscenity!
We also learn from the rather insolent tone of his letter that Imam Ahmed Musah capriciously prefers the glaringly jaundiced and ideologically skewed interpretation of Nana Akufo-Addo’s “All-Die-Be-Die” advisory mischievously purveyed by the editors of the Enquirer to its original and contextually apt meaning of “measured self-defense.”
Even so, we are democratically minded and respectful enough of the right of others to their own meanings and interpretations of words and terms subject to diachronic and contextual variations.
And just exactly what does Mr. Musah mean by the following: “Allah says in the Holy Qur’an ‘and do not kill yourselves, verily Allah is merciful with you.’ He again says ‘and do not engage yourselves in acts that would be disastrous to you, and be kind to yourselves as Allah loves those who are kind”?
Maybe Imam Ahmed Musah ought to be preaching the foregoing to those P/NDC operatives who assassinated the three Akan Supreme Court judges and the retired Army major, and the unarmed decapitated “Agbogbloshie Four.” At this juncture, isn’t it already clear to the rather presumptuous Imam Ahmed Musah that, in fact, it is he who ought to be profusely apologizing to Nana Akufo-Addo than the other way around?
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011).