Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many thanks for your kind invitation to be a part of this important event which is aimed at celebrating not only an important people but also a great language.

As many of you may be aware, my office is always inundated with event invitations. Today is not exclusive. But I decided to honour this great event, The world Hausa day, with my presence – joining you to celebrate the relevance of the Hausa language.

My brothers and sisters,
Let me first thank the organisers for inviting me to deliver the keynote address as the Special Guest of Honour. The theme for the celebration, “Hausa, an indispensable tool for Ghana’s development” clearly underscores a few points for our collective reflections.

The Hausa language, just like any other language, is central to cultural identity. It serves as the means for communicating values, beliefs, and customs. It equally, and if not most importantly, plays the social function of fostering unity, identity, and social solidarity.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Language deepens our understanding of history, and the varied worldviews which support our collective existence as a people. In Ghana, Hausa is believed to be the lingua franca among many different tribes with Islamic inclination. The Hausa language is equally largely spoken in Africa – Nigeria the origin, Niger, Gambia, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Ghana etc.

The Hausa language has its origins in the Bayajidda legends which ascribe the establishment of the Hausa kingdom to the sons and Grandsons of a great prince Bayajida.

He is said to have married the queen of Daura and consolidated his power over a whole number of little emirates.
The Hausa language spread from Northern Nigeria, as far as Central Africa and the entire Sahel region. It spread far and wide because it was the language of trade. The Hausa merchants were the main drivers of the Trans Saharan trade. They exchanged goods from Northern Africa and the Arab world with goods from the forest and Savannah such as cola nuts, salt, ivory and gold.

This travel in search of trade opportunities spread the Hausa people far and wide. Hausa has been successful as a language because it has an advanced writing system. In the early days it was written in Arabic script, but today it is written mainly in the Latin script.

The Hausa language has been one of the longest spoken languages in Ghana after the arrival of the first merchants in the fifteenth Century. Some of these early merchants settled in Salaga in the Savannah Region of Ghana and established the town as a major trading post on the Trans Saharan route. The merchants came along with the Islamic religion which was their religious faith. Along with the merchants came Islamic Ulama and Imams.

Many of these Merchants and Imams spread out into other parts of the south. Because of their distinct religion, they always requested and were given land to settle on the outskirts of the communities they settled in.

By settling outside the town and away from the indigenous community, they were able to freely practice their religion, culture and traditions. These Hausa settlements are what we currently refer to as Zongo.

The actual pronunciation is Zango. It is a Hausa word referring to a place where travelling caravans camped outside a city or town. When the merchants came with their camels, horses and donkeys, they camped outside the cities or towns and exchanged their goods with the local people. Gradually as some begun to settle permanently, these Hausa communities became the Zongos of today.

Since the entry of the Hausa Merchants and Muslim Priests from Northern Nigeria into Ghana, the language has taken root and continued to expand with almost every zongo now speaking the Hausa language. Indeed, it is a common occurrence to even see many people who are not Muslims and have no connections to the Zongos and the northern parts of our country speak fluent Hausa.

This is a testament to how attractive and inclusive the character of the Hausa language has been.
My brothers and sisters,
The people of Hausa descent have contributed significantly to the course of our dear nation right from the processes leading to the birth of our dear nation – Ghana.

Though the Northern soldiers were not limited to only persons of Hausa decent, Hausas played an immensurable role and support for the struggle for the independence of Ghana through the active role of the northern soldiers. Their contributions to Ghana’s independence struggle were based on the conviction for the emancipation of the African Continent from colonial rule.

Among many, the history of brave Hausa Soldiers such as Native Officer Mohammadu Danborno and Native Officer Harry Zanuwah, both of whom died in the line of duty at Sampa in 1900 and at Timber Market (Hausa Gormli) in 1920 respectively is sufficient evidence of the collaborative effort of all the tribes in the attainment of Ghana’s independence.
It is again significant to note that, when one takes a visit to the place of Monuments in Kumasi near the Kingsway, one will see the list of Ghanaian soldiers who fought in the World War 1 (1914-1918). Most of these people who fought in the war were either Hausas, Mooshies, Bissas, Grushis, Yorubas etc. Mention can be made of a few such as Private Abudu Hausa, Gariba Kano, Imoru Fulani, Haruna Zabarma, Amadu Mooshie, Salifu Kotokoli, Mahamadu Busanga, Israel Yoruba, etc.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Again, one is conspicuously greeted with the inscription “Kullun Shiiri” when one visits the Ghana Armed Forces Southern Command. This inscription is in Hausa and right at the gate or entrance. “Kullun Shiiri” is a call to duty – which literally means, “in readiness everytime”. This unambiguously goes to underscore the monumental contribution of soldiers of Hausa decent and from the Zongo and Northern tribes in our struggle for the independence of Ghana.

I believe we can all at least agree that a country that does not take time to understand and appreciate its history always finds it difficult at deepening cultural diversity and social inclusion. As a social democrat, I find it very disturbing when governments and institutions of state treat persons of different cultural and language backgrounds differently and in a discriminatory manner. One’s language and background shouldn’t be the measure to his or her access to opportunity, public goods or services. I do not think it serves our collective conscience right as a people for persons of Zongo tribes including Hausas to face challenges including open discrimination when trying to register for their voters ID Card, Passport, NIA Card, etc.

My brothers and sisters, tribe or ethnicity is not the defining criteria of citizenship. We are a nation that is united and great as a result of our diversity. This is most unfair and this must stop! This is surely one way of how not to build a nation.
Indeed, our 1992 Constitution is explicitly clear on the matter of citizenship. Article 6 (1) says: “Every person who, on the coming into force of this Constitution, is a citizen of Ghana by the law shall continue to be a citizen of Ghana”. Clause (2) of Article 6 also says that: “subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a person born in or outside Ghana after the coming into force of this Constitution, shall become a citizen of Ghana at the date of his birth if either of his parents or grandparents is or was citizen of Ghana”. Clearly, the determination of one’s citizenship from the Constitution goes far beyond one’s tribe or the language the person speaks.

At independence in 1957, if my memory serves me right there were similar declarations and legislation that granted citizenship to all Persons who resided within the boundaries of the new nation Ghana. And there were Guans, Hausas, Zabramas, yorubas, kotokolis, konkombas, dagombas, Dagartis, Walas, Akans, Ga-Dangmes, Ewes, frafras, sissalas, even Asians, Lebanese, Indians and Syrians. We were all part of the transition from the Gold Coast to the new Nation State called Ghana.

As we celebrate this day, we must all strive for unity of purpose and coexistence. Whatever our ethnic origin, we are all first and foremost Ghanaians, we are all one people with a common destiny. When we travel abroad, we don’t travel with an Ashanti passport or a Dagomba passport or a Hausa passport. We travel with a Ghana passport.

We must endeavour to work together to resolve all prevailing conflicts amongst our people. Our traditional rulers and chiefs have a major role to play in this endeavour. They have been our historical, traditional, and cultural compass and in many instances, have served as the glue holding us together. It is important we support them to promote unity and facilitate development in our communities and Ghana as a whole.

For the development of our communicates is a shared responsibility.
My brothers and sisters,
Again, it is progressive to note that most of the Radio and TV Stations in Ghana today have programs that communicate in the Hausa language to reach their ever-growing audience in the Zongos. The likes of Maraba FM, Zuria FM, Alpha radio, Aske radio, Gaskia TV, Baina TV and many others are doing very well to educate and inform our Zongo brethren using the Hausa language. They deserve the most of commendations and support from us.

Clearly, the call for solidarity and support to each other is most crucial as our country, Ghana is faced with major challenges today. Ghana’s challenge for the first time is a twin-challenge. Both, democratic and economic. Our democratic architecture is in danger of unravelling. Our economy is in the worst shape it has ever been in recent history. We need to stand together as one people and one nation to overcome the dire challenges that confront us. But we can only achieve this if our leaders are open transparent and do justice to all manner of persons.

As President, I strived to do just that. I saw all our citizens as Ghanaians who had a right to the opportunities and privileges our country had to offer. I did not discriminate in the provision of infrastructure, Public goods and services and so as I bring my address to a close, I would like to call on all traditional rulers, political leaders, opinion leaders, Imams and every one of us gathered here today to engage each other with decorum and without prejudice to ones tribe and language spoken. In doing so, I urge us to bear in mind the theme for this occasion, “Hausa, an indispensable tool for Ghana’s development” as a reminder of how far
we can go as a country when we eschew stereotypical prejudices and ethnic biases and work towards realising our collective and shared vision for a prosperous Ghana.

I want to specially thank you all very much for your support to the course of nation building.

On my own behalf and that of the NDC, I wish you a successful and fruitful World Hausa Day Celebration. We shall forever stand by you.
Thank you.

Assalaamu alaikum Warahmatu Lah Wabarakaatu Hu.


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