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Opinions Sun, 25 May 2014

If We Are Not Careful, Nima and Maamobi Will Collapse!

The twin-communities of Nima and Maamobi in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana have now become the very definition of a typical Zongo community in the country. A Zongo community, loosely referred to as a community predominantly inhabited by Muslims and people from Northern Ghana and other West African countries, with Hausa as their main Lingua Franca. Unofficial statistics indicate that there are more than 400 of such communities in Ghana. Indeed, there is a Zongo community in every major town or city in Ghana.

Nima & Maamobi are arguably the most famous and often cited Zongo communities in Ghana. These two communities are often cited for various reasons, good or bad. But in most instances, for not so good reasons. Unfortunately.

I am compelled to put up this piece because of what I have personally witnessed and observed in these two communities. I live in Maamobi (I once lived in Nima before), and I’ve been doing that continuously for more than two decades except for the periods I left for my national service in Tamale and also for my postgraduate education in the UK.

A lot have been said or written about Nima and Maamobi, especially the fact that it is one of the most marginalized, deprived and/or dangerous communities to live in. It is also widely mentioned as one of the filthiest locations in the nations’ capital. In fact some people have suggested, in various quarters, that the inhabitants of these two communities should be relocated to allow the government to use the “space” for very strategic national infrastructure projects for the beautification of Accra. Notice that both Nima and Maamobi are strategically located in the nation’s heartbeat. These communities share the same constituency with the Seat of Government; the FlagStaff House in Kanda and two major TV stations…the state broadcaster; Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and TV3 Network. These two communities are also less than thirty minutes drive from the Kotoka International Airport, the Central Business District of Accra, the Parliament of Ghana, the Ministries in Accra, and other equally important landmarks. That is how strategic these communities are located.

Unfortunately, however, Nima and Maamobi are sitting on a time bomb! We are sitting on a time bomb because, in my strongest view, the lifestyle of some of the youth of these communities is becoming a national security threat to the nation. I will explain.

First of all, it is very sad to note that the activities of these youth in question especially during the night are very alarming and dangerous. When you visit the Nima Highway (the Prince Al-Waleed Highstreet) anytime after 10pm, one will see in display the “future” of our communities. Young people as young as 12 or 15 years will be seen with their boyfriends and girlfriends doing their own things in full public glare like nobody’s business. What is also more dangerous is the use of hard drugs by these young people, especially the use of marijuana not only by the boys, but also our young beautiful sisters. This has now become the trend and is seen to be the new normal. Very sad development.

Secondly, the spate of unemployment among the youth is very very alarming. But let me be quick to add that, interestingly there are some young people who although unemployed, yet are not ready to work for reasons I will explain shortly. When people are not employed in any meaningful vocation, the tendency for them to engage in negative social activities and other criminal behaviors is very high. People must eat and live well. That should be the minimum. However, in instances where even where to get your next meal becomes a “world war” then all of us, and not just the person alone, are in trouble. Our inability as a people to tackle youth unemployment in Nima and Maamobi is a major factor in bringing us where we are now…facing serious social challenges.

Thirdly, the new craze of “get rich quick” among the unemployed youth is not only very disturbing, but also very dangerous. We are still struggling to contain the “Sakawa pandemic” (that is if we are even doing anything at all on that front). And now we have this new phenomenon of gambling and football betting in our communities. The last time I checked, there are three multinational betting companies in just Nima and Maamobi alone. These betting companies almost operate 24/7 making huge profits from these unemployed youth…that’s how ironic it can get! And this is why I stated earlier that although some of the youth aren’t employed yet they are not ready to work because of the money they receive from Internet fraud (Sakawa) and game (football) gambling.

Fourthly, the inability of our leaders and duty bearers to address these issues facing the youth of these communities is troubling. Our leaders are yet to come together in any forum whatsoever to discuss how to address and tackle these challenges of our future leaders. The best that has been done is to talk about it, and nothing more. One would have expected that our chiefs and religious leaders especially, will take on these issues and begin to address them. For now, those of us concerned can only draw the attention of our duty bearers to act and act quickly before things get out of hands.

I wish to call on all and sundry, especially those who have stake in the affairs of Nima and Maamobi to take up this matter seriously. In my capacity as a youth leader, I will do everything possible to push this agenda forward. I will do my possible best to draw the attention of all stakeholders such as our chiefs, religious leaders, political leaders and the National Security Secretariat to take action on the matter. After all these issues may not be peculiar to Nima and Maamobi. But how we address them could become the reference point for addressing similar challenges in other Zongo communities in particular, and other deprived communities in general. These are classical cases of national security threats which should not be overlooked.

We cannot sit back and watch few people destroy our communities. We must act quickly and act now!

Mahmoud Jajah is a youth activist and a blogger at http://mahmoudjajah.com
Columnist: Jajah, Mahmoud