Life Stories of Educated Muslims in Ghana, 1935–2005
Paperback, 14,8 x 21 cm
For several centuries Muslims acted as brokers in many West African societies. They exchanged goods as traders, served as clerks, and transmitted knowledge as scholars. However, during European colonisation from the 15th to the 20th century Muslims lost their economic, political, and educational influence. In the Gold Coast too, new clerks, who were trained mainly in Christian mission schools, gradually overtook the role of former Muslim administrators. Brokers of Modernity investigates how Muslims, primarily through secular education, regained their status as brokers in postcolonial Ghana and thereby traces the history of Muslim education from colonial times to the 1990s. Based on the life stories of thirty women and men of three generations from Accra and Tamale, this study focuses on individual strategies of coping with the tensions between secular civil life and religious practice. How did the interviewees negotiate 'being a Muslim' and 'being a citizen' in public schools and within their Muslim community? As brokers of modernity, secular educated Muslim both modernized Muslim communities and Islamized the Ghanaian society. Through their activities Islam has become more visible and present in the public sphere. In postcolonial Ghana, Tina Heinze argues, brokers play a prominent role in integrating minorities, mediating between social groups at the margins and mainstream society. Acting at the fringes, they cross the borders of different belief systems, cultures and ways of life.