Arewa Community Ghana Marks International Hausa Day

Arewa Community Ghana joined the rest of the World on 26/08/2020 to commemorate International Hausa Day at a colourful event in Kotobabi a suburb of Accra.

The day was in recognition of Hausa Language and to bring together the Arewa Communities around the World.

Islamic Scholars and Chiefs from various Zangos and Arewa Communities within the Greater Accra Region graced the occasion to contribute their quota in the historical migration of the Hausa people from Nigeria to various African countries focusing mainly on Ghana.

A Historian and an Islamic Scholars Alhaji Alhassan Sulley in his address divulged the ancestral home of Hausa and linked it to entire Northern Nigeria, spilling over into the Republic of Niger and Northern Cameroon respectively. Hausa according to Alhaji Alhassan is the largest ethnic group, not only in Nigeria but also in West Africa as a whole. Through trade and other business-related activities, the Hausa language is prevalent in Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, The Gambia etc. The Hausa language is endowed with a high degree of cultural, linguistic and religious uniformity adding that the word Hausa is both Linguistic and an Ethnic term. “For hundreds of years, the major Ethnic groups in West Africa- such as the DYULA and the HAUSAS have moved from one area to another either as Islamic scholars or as Traders” Alhaji Alhassan revealed.

Historically, the Portuguese were the first foreign traders in the Gold Coast who arrived in Elmina, in the Central Region in 1492, i.e in the fifteenth Century (C15th) but the early commercial Hausa traders he said had also come to trade with the PORTUGUESE, or may even have arrived in the Gold Coast before the Portuguese. According to the historian, it has also been established that the HAUSA traders and the DYULA (generally referred to as the WANGARA), were already present in Northern Gold Coast in the late fifteenth century cl5. (Prof. WILKS, cited in DRAKE 1968: 13 and Mahdi ADAMU 1978: 134). Adding that Wherever trade took place, there was a Muslim trader; either the DYULA or the HAUSA trader from Northern Nigeria.

Alhaji Alhassan further revealed that in the era of Gold Coast, the Hausas arrived in three (3) distinct categories, each with a precise mission to fulfil.

  • AS TRADERS in kola nuts, cattle, leather goods, hand-woven clothes, artefacts and other paraphernalia.

“It is said that AS A FIGHTING FORCE (soldiers) brought in by the BRITISH Colonial Administration in 1872, primarily to help conquer the ASHANTIS, to be part of the British Colony”

EARLY HAUSA TRADERS he said are the first group of the Hausa ethnic group to arrive in the Gold Coast as traders and they arrived in a caravan-like formation that included cattle
traders, leather goods, hand-woven clothes, blacksmiths with hand-made artefacts and other paraphernalia for sale. Some of them who returned home purchased kola nuts for business purposes in Nothern Nigeria. While returning to Northern Nigeria, the traders followed a Westward route to GWANJA (Northern part of the GOLD COAST), as it was then referred to by Hausawa in Northern Nigeria. They would then arrive in principal trading centres such as SALAGA, BUIPE, KAFABA, GAMBAGA, YENDI,
SANSSANA MANGU (present-day Togo) and KETARE.

The historian further revealed the GWANJA (now GONJA), was a name given by the Hausa
traders to describe the centre of the HAUSA – GONJA kola trade. The origin of the word GONJA he said is derived from the Hausa phrase “Gun Jan- Goro”- (at the place of the red kola nuts), which has become, not only the name of the Ethnic group, but also of their language of communication (Prof. Mahdi ADAMU 1978: 130). Originally, they were called MBANYE”. The Founder of the Gonja Kingdom was NDEWURE JAKPA. By the time he began his war of conquest (1623/4-1666/7), some HAUSA and BAREBARI traders were already in Gonjaland (Mahdi ADAMU 1978: 131). Archaeological findings by the late Prof. James Anquandah of the University of Ghana Legon, KETARE, which in Hausa means ‘ the other side’ or ‘crossed over”, is probably the first place that the HAUSA traders first landed, in the early days of the Hausa -Gonja kola trade.

Lamenting on the Hausawa migration from Zango in Accra, the historian revealed that in the fifteenth Century C15. It was a commercial town strategically located on the banks of the OTI river. As a result of the construction of the giant HYDROELECTRIC DAM PROJECT at AKOSOMBO, the town was completely Submerged in the VOLTA LAKE but was re-constructed thereafter. Today, it is still a vibrant commercial centre in the newly created OTI region of Ghana.


The second category of the early Hausa settlers in the Gold Coast was the slamic scholars, who arrived individually, or accompanied by relatives or associates in order to spread ISLAM, and eventually return home to reunite with their families. Unlike the traders, the early Hausa scholars did not follow a specific route to the Gold Coast; they came to the North and  South thereby leading to the founding of the MAKARANTA SCHOOL SYSTEM everywhere in the Gold Coast.

Two Hausa scholars from KATSINA, have left behind legacies of socio-economic importance in colonial Gold Coast, transcending into modern Ghana till this day:


According to oral history obtained from our ancestors, Mallam Na-Inno and his close associate, Mallam Garba arrived in Accra from Katsina between 1845 – 1850, primarily to spread ISLAM through teaching.

On arrival, they lived at JAMES TOWN, in Ga Mashie, in a rented house, which is traceable even today, as we speak. In March 1881, Mallam Na-Inno and Mallam Gar’ba secured land from the chiefs and Elders of USHER TOWN in Accra, and established the first Hausa/Muslim settlement called ZANGON USHER TOWN or ZANGON MALLAM (Dr. Odoom 1963: 3 & PELLOW 2002:55). Twelve years later in 1893, Mallam Na-Inno, who was the IMAM of Accra. He died in his home at Zangon MALLAM (present-day Zongo Lane).

He was succeeded by his son, Mallam Baako as SAR’KIN ZANGO, while the role of the Imam of Accra fell on Mallam Garba, Na-Inno’s associate (Dr ODOOM 1963:3 & Prof. PELLOW 2002: 43, 98 ). Mallam Garba died in 1902, shortly after he had been re-instated as the IMAM OF ACCRA by the then Colonial Governor Sir Mathew Nathan, after his removal by Governor Nathan’s predecessor, Governor Sir F. Hodgson. While Mallam Na-Inno is associated with the founding of ZANGON USHER TOWN (Zangon Mallam), his son, Mallam Baako, had his name attached to founding of SABON ZANGO, about 5 kilometres to the South West Zangon Mallam.

In the entire Southern Ghana, aside from Accra, perhaps the most prominent Hausa Scholar who showed exemplary leadership in the Muslim Community was Mallam Sallau. He hailed from Katsina and lived in Kumasi to advance knowledge in Islam through teaching.

First, Mallam Sallau lived at KPONG, a commercial cum fishing town located on the banks of the VOLTA river in the Eastern region, but relocated to Kumasi, following communal disturbances among the town’s Muslim community. Mallam Sallau established an Islamic School, beginning from his “zaure”, and eventually becoming an important centre of learning – delving into advanced studies in Islamic Jurisprudence, Fiqhu, Nahwu and Tafsir (commentary of the Holy Qur’an).

He added that, Upon the death of the then Sar ‘kin Zango Mallam Usman in 1919, who also came from Katsina, the residents unanimously acclaimed Mallam Sallau as the successor, which entitled him to become a member of the KUMAS COUNCIL OF CHIEFS.

After exhibiting good leadership skills, Mallam Sallau was elevated to the position of a PARAMOUNT CHIEF in 1924 and he became the first non-native chief in Kumasi, where the administration was in the hands of the white Colonial Commissioner. (to be continued…………..Part of series: “Telling Zango Stories)

Source: Faisal Mustapha