Everyday Islam in Kumasi: Devout Lay Men and Women in Daily Life

by Gracia Clark

Traders

The commercial importance of Kumasi encourages both men and women to trade, and many moved here for that purpose. The savannah-based trading networks to the north of Kumasi are dominated by Muslim men. Long before Kumasi was founded, towns like Salaga were important centers in this network, and attracted traders from present-day Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Mali. After British conquest allowed them access to Kumasi, men from these ethnic groups continued to control wholesale trade in cattle, kola nuts, and other important commodities.

About 80% of the total female population of working age in Kumasi makes a living by trading. Muslim women trade in the Central Market and in smaller neighborhood markets, especially in shea butter and in other foods popular with the Northern ethnic groups. A few women own stores in the commercial areas of town, but it is more often men who have this much capital. Many women also sell from tables on the roadside just outside their houses. Those who wish to stay at home can still trade, and many sell cooked food to regular customers. They can also buy and resell other goods by visiting suppliers and customers at their homes, by receiving visitors in their own homes, and by selling through hawkers who carry their goods from door to door.

An Arabic Teacher
Date: 2006

An Arabic Teacher

"As I understood the teachings of Islam, I pledged to let my fellow Muslims also know more about Islam and the Koran. That is why I prefer teaching."

A Trader and a Teacher
Date: 2006

A Trader and a Teacher

"My uncle saw that I was not interested in marriage, so one day he just called me and said 'I want you to be married to your brother [cousin],' and it worked."

Not Every Woman Can Do This Work
Date: 2006

Not Every Woman Can Do This Work

"It is only me, a woman selling these double axles here. My family are proud of me as a woman selling this, because it is not easy for some women to learn this trade."

Ahmed Bashir Baba
Date: August 13, 2009

Ahmed Bashir Baba

"All that we need is unity."

Mohammed Bawa
Date: August 13, 2009

Mohammed Bawa

"First, be honest; second, be patient."

Abdul Hannan Al Waiz
Date: August 13, 2009

Abdul Hannan Al Waiz

"I know what is bad and what is good for me."

Abdu Basit
Date: August 13, 2009

Abdu Basit

"Bicycles have helped me."

Suleiman Zakaria
Date: August 13, 2009

Suleiman Zakaria

"The religion of Islam is totally about peace"

Sadick Jaffo
Date: August 15, 2009

Sadick Jaffo

"I have to respect these people."

Abu Rawbil
Date: August 15, 2009

Abu Rawbil

"Islam teaches us to love one another."

Fuseini Nahidshah
Date: August 15, 2009

Fuseini Nahidshah

"People like coming here."

Ibrahim Abdul Rashid
Date: August 15, 2009

Ibrahim Abdul Rashid

"We don't advise that."

Halima Abdallah
Date: August 21, 2009

Halima Abdallah

"I don't think I can marry again."

Ahmed Abdulah
Date: August 21, 2009

Ahmed Abdulah

"I will drive peacefully; I will come home peacefully."

Suleman Haruna
Date: August 21, 2009

Suleman Haruna


Ahmed Abubakar Ali
Date: August 21, 2009

Ahmed Abubakar Ali

"I'm a real Zongo man."