Having had a lot of exposure in some wow Zongos (Alabar, Yalwa, Bisa kan Tudu, Asawasi all of Kumasi) in my formative years, it is so gratifying to note that the Zongos now have a direct developmental lead in government. My kind of Zongos are synonymous with Entrepreneurship, Athletics, Determination, Community, Leadership, etc. In those times it was a matter of survival and one had to trust God to breakthrough.
I grew up seeing many industrious and business oriented young men and women who loved to face their economic challenges head on, including many of my relatives and acquaintances. Most of them were so good in business that people thought they had “sikaduro” or juju. Many micro and small businesses in the communities operated and still do operate Food (Waakye, TZ, etc.), Logistics (Transport, Sanitation), Artisanal concerns, Trading business, Schools, etc. The numbers carry a lot of energy and market which can be harnessed and channeled into a powerful crucible for their own benefit.
Majority of these young men are smart and intelligent and I think we tend to underestimate their potential (An obvious fact)
Just look back to the sports history of Ghana and you will know what I am talking about. It is so sad that majority of them end up on the streets. Just study every batch of the Black Stars and you will find the Zongo boys who managed to breakthrough. I know for those of us who happen to use the Kawokudi junction, the Opeibea junction and the Dzorwulu junction you meet the Nima boys who try to clean your windscreen when coming home in the evenings after work.
These are very strong and energetic young men who should not be allowed to just waste their talents. I am very sure all they need is a decent job, blue colour if not a white colour job or some form of support to start-up.
My kind of Zongo had a group of determined young people who will go to every length to flourish. There was a sense of community, irrespective of whether one is a Christian or a Muslim. Within my kind of Zongo, we had all kinds of ethnic groups within and outside Ghana (Wala, Hausa, Asante, Nzema, Ewe, Moshie, Dagomba, Kanjaga, Yoruba, Beberi, Fulani, you name them) and Nationals from Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Benin, La Cote d’ ivoire, Burkina Faso, etc. We Schooled, played and had fun together with very less prejudice. I remember the annual carnival of Muslim Chiefs on the Zongo High Street at Kumasi where where my father worked. Within these Zongo communities is the First Baptist Church (Akwatia-line), the Lighthouse Assemblies of God (behind the Yalwa Zongo, Akwatia-line), the St Theresa’s Catholic Church, the Presbyterian, Methodist and Several Christian Churches. The Church of Pentecost which I belong to, currently has Assemblies in several Zongos. I can certainly not forget the famous “Masalachi Jummah” (the Kumasi Central Mosque). The religious and ethnic diversity was real good to behold. Well, sometimes we used to have normal football and corner fights too. The Zongo boy will never give up on a fight.
My kind of Zongo had one of the informal leadership styles which I admired. I experienced peace, in spite of the ethnic and religious dynamics. This was because we always had some leaders who were always available to solve such problems, amid their calm demeanor. I see one in the new Minister (proposed) for Inner City and Zongo Development.
A modern and a well-developed Apprenticeship program will suffice for my kind of Zongo. A program which will be in sync with the activities of local artisans and entrepreneurs should create an opportunity for the young people to be part of the local and mainstream economy. These people should be tracked via the right technologies to ensure that they are excelling in what they were trained to do coupled with the right dose of mentoring.
Existing Entrepreneurs within the Zongos should be schooled to take their time to grow their businesses with the bigger picture in view. A well monitored funding approach aimed at building high potential businesses with the capacity to employ more hands may be considered.
By the way the Zongos have some of the best and authentic Ghanaian recipes including Waakye. With a huge market across Ghana and beyond, the Zongos can serve as the “exporter” of” Waakye” to the rest of Ghana. Deliberate Creation of Incubators and Accelerators for MSME’s within the Zongos
A deliberate effort to create incubators and accelerators to fuel the ideas of the many educated young people to create more Start-ups and promote the growth of the current ones will be great. Mentoring and Coaching Program for Businesses and the Youth
This I believe will lead to a great change of mindset to let them know that they can break the glass ceiling. It will be great to link these young people up to those who have already succeeded in their education and businesses or moved on. Follow ups and feedbacks should create the right conditions for their growth.
When the mind is changed the man will change.
The Zongos have rich histories which can be researched and promoted. Local Tour guides can be trained for these opportunities.