A programme geared towards developing a blueprint and rallying together Zongo communities to help reverse the narrative and the negative stereotype of Zongo communities, under an atmosphere of peace and development, has been launched in Kumasi.
The “Zongo for Peace and Development (ZOPAD)” Conference 2019, according to the Minister for Inner City and Zongo Development, Dr. Mustapha Hameed, aims to engender and foster peace and unity among residents of Zongo communities in Ghana.
The initiative, which was mooted by the former Minister for Inner City and Zongo Development, Boniface Abubakar Siddique, will include series of dialogue sessions in various parts of the country for the people of Zongo communities.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, is expected to open the conference on Tuesday, January 8, 2018 in Kumasi, under the theme “Developing our Zongo Communities through Tolerance and Peace.”
Dr. Hameed, at the launch of the conference, in Kumasi, noted that one of the reasons that informed the President to set up the Ministry of Inner City and Zongo Development is purposely to bring development and bridge the gap between inner cities and Zongo communities and the rest of the areas of the country.
To this end, he said “We are, however, aware that development can only be built on a foundation of peace.
“So, even as we seek to bring development to Zongo communities, we realize that it is also correct and indeed, our duty to ensure that those developments sit securely on a foundation of peace.”
He reckoned that the Zongo communities are a “melting point pot of ethnicities and religions.” This mix of cultures and philosophies, while it can engender cooperation and understanding, can also be the basis for disagreement and even conflict.
“While we trust the good sense of people to be faithful to these divergences, we believe that it is important to make a conscious effort to partner with people of our Zongo communities to weave these differences into a beautiful tapestry of cooperation, understanding and development.”
It is inline with this that the ZOPAD Conference 2019 seeks to bring key players in Zongo communities together to dialogue and chart an endurable path to peace.
The conference will involve various speakers – scholars of tradition and religion or respected members of Zongo communities – who will be addressing a number of issues around the theme.
There will also be an open forum to allow the participants to freely contribute to the discussion on how to craft a pathway to a lasting peace in Zongo communities.
It is hoped that the conference will among others help to change the narrative and the negative stereotype of Zongo communities being seen as violent habitats.
The Minister defended that “Zongo communities are communities where camaraderie and brotherliness and neighbourliness are considered sacred,” and was hopeful that the ZOPAD conference will among others help to reinforce these excellent qualities of the people in the minds of everyone.