8 Muharram, 1436 AH

Friday 31 October 2014

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Home > Articles > HISTORY OF HAUSA IN GHANA

HISTORY OF HAUSA IN GHANA

Ghana is a tropical country that lies along the coast of West Africa. It has a population of more than 20 million. The Hausa are the largest ethnic group in West Africa, and a majority of them are Muslims.The Hausa are originally from an area known as "Hausaland," a region covering 75,000 square miles and straddling the borders of Niger and Nigeria. They first began to settle in Ghana about 500 years ago.

In the fifteenth century, the first Muslim traders from Hausaland arrived and settled in the northeastern section of Ghana. With the expansion of trade in the eighteenth century and the "holy wars" of Fulani in the nineteenth century, Hausa immigration to Ghana increased. Hausa traders, Muslim priests, and Hausa-speaking slaves helped to spread the Hausa culture in Ghana.

The language of Hausa has more native speakers than any other language in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 22 million native speakers,
plus additional 17 million second   language speakers. The main Hausa speaking area is northern Nigeria and Niger, but Hausa is also widely spoken in northern Ghana and northern Cameroon, and there are large Hausa communities in every major West African city. Most Hausa speakers are Muslims, and Hausa is often a lingua franca among Muslims in non-Hausa areas.There is a large and growing printed literature in Hausa, which includes novels, poetry, plays,instruction in Islamic practice, books on development issues, newspapers, news magazines, and even technical academic works. Radio and television broadcasting in Hausa is ubiquitous in northern Nigeria and Niger, and radio stations in Ghana and Cameroon have regular Hausa broadcasts, as do international broadcasters such as the BBC, VOA,Deutsche Welle, Radio Moscow, Radio Beijing, and others. Hausa is used as the language of instruction at the elementary level in schools in northern Nigeria, and Hausa is available as course of study in northern Nigerian universities.

Besides, several high degrees (masters and PhD) are offered in Hausa in various universities in the UK, US and Germany. Hausa is also being used in various social media networks around the world. In terms of sheer numbers, Hausa thus ranks as one of the world's major languages, and it has widespread use in a number of countries of West Africa. Hausa's rich poetic, prose, and musical literature, more and more of which is now available in print and in audio and video recordings, makes it a rewarding area of study for those who reach an advanced level.

Aside from the inherent interest of Hausa language and its literature, the study of Hausa provides perhaps the most informative entry into the world of  Islamic West Africa. Throughout West Africa, there is a strong connection between Hausa and Islam. The influence of the Hausa language on the languages of many non-Hausa Muslim peoples in West African is readily apparent. Likewise, many Hausa cultural practices, including such overt features as dress and food, are shared by other Muslim communities. Because of the dominant position which Hausa language and culture have long held, the study of Hausa provides crucial background for other areas such as West African history, politics (particularly in Nigeria and Niger), gender studies, commerce, and the arts.

What are their lives like?

Since the fifteenth century, Hausa traders imported textile products, leather goods, metal locks, and horse equipment to the area of present-day Ghana. Until the beginning of this century, slaves, kola nuts, coffee, gold, and elephant tusks were the products that the Hausa traded in exchange. With the expansion of trade, Hausa immigration into Ghana increased. Very few of the Hausa immigrants came to Ghana with wives. Instead, as soon as they began to make a living in any area, they would take local wives and start to build families. However, they would invite Hausa priests to settle near them so that their children would be educated in the Koran. This was done in order to reduce the influence of the children's non-Hausa mothers, and to keep the Hausa culture alive.

Hausa women are given less educational opportunities than men and are required to marry while still very young. They are often confined to the home, except for visits to relatives, ceremonies, and the workplace. They are primarily responsible for tending to the children and doing the household chores. This includes providing the water and fuel needed for cooking. In addition, they are expected to invest the rest of their time in some type of trade. The money earned is used in financing their daughters' dowries.

The Hausa are very industrious people and idleness is not tolerated among them. In fact, they have been known to hold down several occupations at the same time, such as positions in the military, trade and commerce, social services, and the spreading of Islam. In this respect, they have come to dominate the country in the areas of religion and commerce.

The national dress of the Hausa consists of loose flowing gowns and trousers. The gowns have wide openings on both sides for ventilation. The trousers are loose at the top and center, but rather tight around the legs. Leather sandals and turbans are also typical. Today, these gowns and sandals are still worn by the wealthy of northern Ghana; however, more people have begun wearing European style clothing and other tailored garments.

What are their beliefs?

The Hausa of Ghana are virtually all Muslim. This is a high percentage in a country where a small percentage of the population is Islamic. Both the Qadiriyah brotherhood and the Tijaniyah order have followers there. Nevertheless, the religious practices of the Hausa have been mixed with local traditions. For example, they believe in a variety of spirits, both good and bad. Traditional rituals include making sacrificial offerings to the spirits and to the spirit possessed. Most rituals are performed by family members, but specialists are called upon to cure diseases. The Hausa priests, or malams, are thought to have the best charms. According to the malams, different magical formulas have different effects. The priests claim to have cures for every aspect of human concern.

Edited by Fauzan Shamsudeen

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