A personal account of the historic visit of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V to Ghana in 2004 – his first visit after election to the office of Khilafat.
Ahmadi Muslims of Ghana came to Kotoka International Airport in Accra from all over the country. Among them was a Member of the Council of State, the Council that is mandated by the Constitution of Ghana to advise the President of the Republic. Also present were Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, high ranking civil servants, professionals as well as ordinary members of the Community – men, women and children.
When the British Airways aircraft arrived at the airport, there was jubilation already, but the moment the aircraft taxied to a stop and the door got opened, the mood was simply electrifying!
It is said that those on the airplane were wondering as to the personality on the aircraft whose arrival was creating the euphoria, They did not have to wait for too long to see who that personality was! He was of course Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, Fifth Successor of the Founder of the world-wide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community the Spiritual Guide and Leader of a Community of millions of peaceful, religious, disciplined, and dedicated people in 190 countries of the world,.
Wild shouts of takbeer rent the air when he appeared along with his consort. This was the moment that Ghanaian Ahmadis had been waiting for: Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V on Ghanaian soil.
After the presentation of the bouquet, the decoration of the august guest by the Amir with the traditional garland of rich hand-woven Kente cloth with the inscription: ‘Welcome to Ghana’ said it all.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V and members of his entourage were ushered into the VIP Lounge after shaking hands with all the dignitaries who were at the airport to receive him. After a brief press conference, in which he said he had come to Ghana to visit his people, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V left the airport for the National Headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission at Osu, in Accra, escorted by motor cycle riders.
It is worth mentioning that one of the directives received from Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V before his maiden visit to Ghana was that his stay would always be at the Mission House, not at a hotel or Government Guest House.
The direct effect of this directive was the renovation of all the buildings at the National Headquarters of the Jama’at and all the other Regional Mission Houses in Ghana. The plot on which the magnificent Accra Mission House now stands, was donated by the Jama’at’s ex-President, Alhaj Muhammad W.E. Arthur, the first Member of Parliament of Mfantsiman Constituency of the Central Region of Ghana and the then Chief Executive of the Ghana Housing Corporation.
At the time, the National Headquarters of the Mission was located at Saltpond. Today, apart from the Mission House, there is on the plot of land, an imposing Mosque of Moorish architecture a Guest House, Offices and an Exhibition Hall.
Courtesy Calls on Hudhur
It was here that our beloved Spiritual Master stayed throughout the period he was in Accra. It was here that H.E. Alhaj Aliu Mahama, the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, called on him. It was here that the Ex Vice President of Ghana, Prof. Evans Atta Mills, also paid a courtesy call on him.
Hudhur At The Castle
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V had arrived in the night. The following day, he was received at the Castle, the seat of Government. by H.E. Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana.
The President could not hide his feelings on seeing Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V. Here is a person who had spent 8 years of the prime of his life to render dedicated service to the people of Ghana.
The very first successful experiment of wheat cultivation in Ghana had been done by this dedicated son of Ahmadiyyat. He had helped to bring quality education and moral excellence to the doorsteps of people, both in the North and in the South of Ghana.
The President’s Remarks
No wonder the President said to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V, ‘We consider you as a Ghanaian. Yours is a home-coming. We share with you the glory of the highest honour conferred upon you by the Almighty Allah.’
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V expressed his gratitude to the President for his warm reception and prayed for the unity, peace and progress of Ghana.
National Annual Convention
His Excellency, the President was kind enough to grace the National Annual Convention of the Jama’at held at its 25-acre Conference Centre in Accra, affectionately named by Hadhrat Khatifatul Masih IV, Allah’s mercy be on him as Bustan-e-Ahmad, i.e. the Garden of Ahmad. Here again, the President acknowledged the contribution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to Ghana, in the fields of education, health, agriculture and manpower development.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V, in a passionate address, set out the peaceful message of Islam and called on the people of the world to live together in love, amity and harmony.
The then High Commissioner of Canada to Ghana who had been privileged to listen to Hudhur’s address met Hudhur after the historic session of the Conference and remarked:
‘This is a message for everybody in the world.’
At the Convention were leaders of various religions, including, the then only Ghanaian Cardinal of the Catholic Church, His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson, also H.E. the Ambassador of the Holy See, Heads of other Christian Churches, and a Representative of the National Chief Imam.
Also present were diplomats including the then British High Commissioner to Ghana, the Canadian High Commissioner, and the Algerian Ambassador. There were traditional rulers among whom was the King of the Ga Traditional Area. Academics were also not left out. They included the Vice Chancellor. Prof. Kwadwo Assenso Okyere, of Ghana’s premier University, the University of Ghana, Legon.
They all paid glowing tribute to the peaceful disposition of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ghana, thereby practically confirming the peaceful message delivered by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V .
The Friday Prayer Service
The following day was a Friday. The sermon as usual was delivered in Urdu and was simultaneously interpreted into the local Akan language. For the first time in the history of Ahmadiyyat in Ghana, a Khalifa’s sermon was being carried LIVE by satellite through the MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) International to the farthest ends of the world. Ghanaian Ahmadis across the world who watched the programme were beside themselves with wonder and joy!
Travel to the Hinterland
The Convention over, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V decided to leave Accra – the nation’s capital and travel to the regions and to the hinterland. Here again Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V’s preference was to travel by road, not by air, to enable him to see and feel the remarkable progress that had been made by the Jama’at in Ghana through the grace of Allah.
This meant journeying on rough roads in the heat of the sun and through a dusty terrain to some of the towns in far off areas, where the mosques, Mission Houses, Senior High Schools, the Teacher Training College, the Missionary Training College and the Girls Vocational Institute of the Jama’at and the kindergartens were located
Inspection of Schools and Hospitals
It also afforded him the opportunity to inspect almost all the Jama’at’s Medical Centres, the hospitals at Swedru in the Central Region, Daboase in the Western Region, Asokore and Kokofu in the Ashanti Region, Techiman in the Brong/Ahafo Region. and Kaleo in the Upper West Region of Ghana.
He also inspected, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission’s Homoeopathic Clinic in Buadi, near Kumasi, and the Tahir Homoeopathic Complex, where homoeopathic globules and medicines are manufactured and supplied to almost all the countries of Africa and beyond.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V was visibly moved when he visited the educational institutions he headed while here many years ago.
Guards of Honour formed by School Cadet Corps, were mounted in his honour at these high schools.
He inspected facilities in these institutions and gave instructions to the Amir or Heads of the Institutions, where necessary, for the improvement of teaching and learning in the institutions. These included the provision of more computers, air conditioners in the computer laboratories, the construction of Mosques and the improvement of facilities in the hostels and boarding houses. He was requested that trees be planted in all the schools he visited. He wrote in the remarks he graciously left in the schools’ Visitors’ Books that he had been highly impressed with the progress made. He added, however, that there was room for further improvement and that he hoped we would not relent in our efforts towards the achievement of excellence.
Mini durbars were held in his honour in the Southern and Northern parts of Ghana. That of the South was held by the King of Asante, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Apart from the fact that the Jama’at’s very first Secondary School and three health facilities are located in the Ashanti region, among the King’s subjects are Maulvi A. Wahab Adam, the Amir & Missionary-In-Charge of Ghana, Mr. Abdullah Nasir Boateng, the first Ghanaian Headmaster of the Jama’at’s premier School, T. I. Ahmadiyya Secondary School in Kumasi, Mr. Ibrahim. K. Gyasi, also former Headmaster of the Kumasi TI. Ahmadiyya Secondary School. Also the Amir & Mr Ibrahim K. Gyasi are Members of the Board of Trustees of the King’s initiated Otumfuo Education Fund, the first of its kind in Ghana, to help brilliant but needy students to sail through their educational pursuits.
Mention of the list of Otumfuo’s Ghanaian Ahmadi subjects cannot be complete without mentioning H.E. Mr. Ismail .B.K. Addo, former Ambassador of Ghana to Ethiopia, well known to Ahmadis all over the world, as ‘Bara Bacha’ an affectionate accolade given him by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV, of blessed memory.
The porcupine is the symbol of the Asante nation. It symbolises the numerical strength as well as the resilience of the Asantis. The King, during the mini durbar, decorated Hudhur with an insignia of the Asante nation, the porcupine, in solid gold.
Near Salaga in the Northern Region of Ghana, is Kpembi the traditional seat of the Kpembiwura, the traditional Head of the Gonja people. It would be recalled that Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V had served as the Headmaster of the Salaga Ahmadiyya Muslim Senior High School.
The Traditional Ruler of the area also held a mini durbar in honour of Hudhur. The Paramount Chief presented a special traditional hand-woven gown to Hudhur with a traditional cap to match, At both durbars, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V expressed his deep appreciation and gratitude for the honour conferred on him
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V had graciously set out his impressions of the Ghana Jama’at in the Jama’at’s Visitors Book as follows:
‘Mashallah, By the grace of Allah, the pace of progress of Ghana Jama’at is very encouraging. May Allah enable the Jama’at Ghana to continue with this pace and with humble service of the people of Ghana and fervent prayers bring the whole nation into the fold of Ahmadiyyat – the true Islam. May Allah bless the Jama’at’
While inspecting the new magnificent Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque at Tamale, the Capital of the Northern Region, Hudhur remarked:
‘During our stay in Ghana one could not even imagine that such a Mosque could be built here.
By the grace of Allah, it is not only the Jama’at’s Mosques in Northern Ghana that would strike one as spectacular but also the numerous newly established schools in the region and in particular, the growing Ahmadi Muslim congregations in the North, comprising, among others, Paramount Chiefs, Imams and highly learned Islamic scholars. It is a complete transformation, Allah be praised!’
It is a fact that a lot of misconceptions exist about Africa in the minds of people, all over the world.
To help remove these misconceptions, Hudhur went to all lengths to direct the MTA crew to film the captivating natural beauty of Ghana, in order to illustrate to the viewers that Ghana. an African country, abounds in natural beauty, comparable to any other part of the world: Green forests captivating waterfalls, sparkling rivers and lakes as well as beautiful sandy beeches. There are also intimidating hills and mountains, not to talk of the dancing monkeys, friendly crocodiles and colourful butterflies.
The Aburi Get-Together
To this end he went to Bunso and Aburi gardens, both in the Eastern Region of Ghana. In the beautiful garden of Aburi, all the Markazi staff, made up of Missionaries, doctors and teachers – those who served in Ghana and those who served in other countries gathered together, with their families and had the rare opportunity of an audience with their Spiritual leader in an informal setting. Children recited the Holy Qur’an and poems of the Promised Messiah(as).
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V interacted with all of them and though he did not make a formal speech, it was apparent that he was grateful to Allah for His grace in endowing the Community of the Promised Messiah(as), with such dedicated servants from so many and such diverse countries, in fulfillment of His promise to the Promised Messiah(as) that ‘Men will assist you whom We will inspire from the heavens’.
Mention has been made of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V’s engagements in different parts of the country. These included formal opening and foundation laying ceremonies of mosques and printing press etc. For some time now, the Jama’at’s Printing Press had remained, in one of the halls of the National Headquarters of the Jama’at. During his visit, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V laid a foundation for the construction of a Printing Press on a permanent site at Tema in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. It has since been built.
For the record, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V travelled extensively in Ghana – Accra, the capital, Potsin, Saltpond. Essarkyir, Ekrawfo in the Central Region. Daboase in the Western Region, Kumasi. Asokore, Kokofu and Buadi in the Ashanti Region, Techiman in the Brong/Ahafo Region, Tamale, Kperiga, Salaga. & Kpembi in the Northern Region, Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region and Wa in the Upper West Region. This was the most extensive tour to have been undertaken by any Khalifa in Ghana.
A day before Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V left Accra, a reception was held in his honour at the National Headquarters of the Jama’at. On the lawns between the Accra Mission House and the magnificent mosque, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V interacted with dignitaries from various walks of life. The occasion was graced among others, by H.E. the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, the Pope’s Ambassador to Ghana and the Acting. King of the Ga Traditional Area.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V decided to travel by road to Burkina Faso. It was a long journey and the construction of some parts of the roads which was then on-going, impeded the progress of the journey. However, led by Police cars with lights flashing and siren blaring, this facilitated the journey time.
Ahmadi Muslims, especially those who did not have the privilege of meeting him during the Jalsa had the unique opportunity of seeing and meeting with him in their own towns and villages. The welcome scenes everywhere was overwhelming but that of Kumasi and Wa were simply fantastic.
Ghana-Burkina Faso Border
Significantly at the Ghana – Burkina Faso border, an individual Ahmadi had single-handedly constructed a magnificent mosque. Though its formal opening was not preplanned, Hudhur graciously accepted our request to open the mosque. It was a grand finale to a spectacularly successful visit.
Arrangements had been made in advance, at the Ghana – Burkina Faso border to facilitate Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V entry to Burkina Faso. Some officials of the Jama’at accompanied Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V to Burkina Faso.
And so ended a splendid opportunity to welcome Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V to Ghana on his very first visit to any country of the world, after his elevation to the highest office of Khalifa tul Masih.
Let me conclude this article on a development seen as nothing short of a miracle: Ghana, like most African countries has monetary difficulties. Building roads costs money and building dual carriage roads costs greatly.
Yet, after Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V’s visit, over 90% of all the rough and dusty roads Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V used during his visit have been covered in tarmac and some expanded into dual carriage roads.
One wonders where from the money was found to do all that! Allah Be Praised!
To me, that is one of the many blessings of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V’s visit to our country.
And our last words are: All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.