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Indians in Ghana are amongst the most respected community. The Indo-Ghana ties have been in existence for more than 100 years now and the Indo-Ghana relationship has always been warm and friendly. The strong foundation was further solidified by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah, two great leaders who enjoyed a special kind of friendship and a similar vision. Both were influential and instrumental in the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.Ghana has a relatively small but growing vibrant Indian Community, compared to Nigeria, Kenya & Uganda, and South Africa.
Though at present there are Indians from all communities and walks of life, the majority of those who first came to Ghana in early 20th Century were from the Sindhi community.
The bond between Ghana and India is very historic since the times of Nkrumah and Nehru. There is a Jawaharlal Nehru road and the first building on that road is the Indian Ambassador’s residence. It is of significance to note that the Flagstaff House which served as the office of President Nkrumah was located near India House, the residence of the High Commissioner of India. Coincidentally, when the current government deemed it prudent to build a presidential palace, it chose the same place for that wonderful architectural edifice designed from India.
Indians are currently one of the biggest investors in Ghana and it is expected that this trend will continue. India’s role in international relations with particular reference to Africa has come of age. The special relationship between India and Africa was strengthened at the India-Africa Forum summit held in April 2008 in New Delhi.
Most Indians are industrious and hardworking and they have the zeal and determination to succeed and that is what keeps them going. Currently there are Ten Indian Companies in Forbes’50 best listed companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Six Indians are also listed in Forbes’ “under 40 Asian billionaire list”. The Ghana Investment Promotion Council recently reported that India has the highest new large projects in Ghana. This should be good news to all Ghanaians; it shows the confidence that India has in Ghana’s economy.
Every year a number of business fairs are held in India focusing on Africa. Most reputable Ghanaian companies are invited to participate in most of these fairs. The trade between India and Ghana has continued to expand every year. Companies such as TATA, Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO), etc have their subsidiaries in Ghana.
- Origin of Indians
- Indian Association of Ghana
- The Indian Women’s Association (IWA)
- Wide Spectrum of Commerce
- Social and Cultural Development
Origin of Indians
The Sindhi community who were the first to arrive in the country, initially came as traders and shopkeepers, and gradually, in the 1950s and 1960s, a few ventures out in the manufacturing industries such as garments, plastics, textiles, insecticides, electronics, pharmaceuticals, optical goods etc... Some Indians who have lived in Ghana for most of their lives have even acquired Ghanaian citizenship, which is granted without any discrimination. Some families are now the fourth generation in Ghana.
Most members of the local Indian Diaspora are well off. They are either independent businessmen with branches also in neighboring countries, or employees of various local companies.
As far as records show, the first Indian (Sindhworki), Bhai Boolchand, landed on the shores of the ‘Gold Coast’ in the year 1890. Nearly twenty years later, in the year 1919, the first Sindhi company was established by two brothers, namely Tarachand Jasoomal Daswani and Metharam Jasoomal Daswani. They opened a store in the market place in the city of Cape Coast (which was the capital city in those days) in the year 1919, under the name of Metharam Jassomal Brothers. Their business flourished and branches were opened in Accra and Kumasi. Few years later, the two brothers separated and whilst Bhai Metharam Jasoomal continued his business under ‘Metharam Brothers’, Bhai Tarachand Jasoomal operated his business under the name ‘Bombay Bazaar’. These were the first two Indian companies that were established in Ghana then the ‘Gold Coast’. In the 1920s, two more Indian firms were established under the name of Lilaram Thanwardas and Mahtani Brothers, and this trend continued in the 1930s and 1940s with the birth of several more Indian companies, namely T. Chandirams, Punjabi Brothers, Wassiamal Brothers, Hariram Brothers, K. Chellaram & Sons, G. Motiram, D. P. Motwani, G. Dayaram, V. Lokumal, Glamour etc… Soon after, as these companies were bringing in new expatriate staff, some staff left their employers, and ventured on their own and more and more companies opened up. After 1947, the ‘Gold Coast’ attracted the attention of some Indian multinational companies, and big names like Chanrai, Bhojsons, K. A. J. Chotirmal, Dalamals, A. D. Gulab opened branches in Ghana. The employment of Ghanaians by these founding companies has also helped to lessen the burden of unemployment in the country. This amply demonstrates the level of commitment India has in the developmental agenda of Ghana. Indians are not only investing in the manufacturing and commercial sectors of the country, they are also investing in the financial sector. Bank of Baroda, one of the biggest and most reputable banks in India recently established a branch in Ghana and hopefully it will expand its operations in other parts of the country very soon.
Indian Association of Ghana
The Indian Association of Ghana has a long colourful history. In 1939, the first ever Indian Merchants Association in West Africa was formed in the ‘Gold Coast’. In fact, this was the first body created in the entire West African Region by Indian traders - Metharam Brothers, Bombay Bazaar, Lilaram Thanwardas, Mahtani Brothers, T. Chandiram, K. Chellaram, Hariram Brothers, Wassiamal Brothers, G. Motiram, Punjabi Brothers and D. P. Motwani. These were the founding members of what our Indian Association is today, and they elected Mr. K. W. Mahtani as their first President, and Mr. N. T. Daswani as their first Secreatary. The Constitution and by-laws were carefully drafted years later by Mr. P. K. Mahtani and Mr. Heman Dadlani. That same Constitution is still in force, though it has been amended in the year 2000, and further amended in the year 2006, to suit the present times.s
The “Peace Ambassador”, Lok Bandhu Karki, a young man from Nepal, abandoned the comfort of his home on December 7, 2004, to cycle around the world for the sake of peace. The Indian Association volunteered to cover all expenses related to his stay in Ghana.
The Indian Association of Ghana has served on the following committees since Ghana’s independence:
- Independence Committee
- Ga Mantse Palace Fund
- Ghana Employer’s Association
- Ghana National Trust Fund.
The Indian Association has contributed immensely towards the following funds/charities/agencies:
- 1943 Bengal Floods
- Children’s Hospital Fund
- Ghana International School
- Ghana National Trust Fund
- Mental Hospital
- Kargil Fund
- Sadhu Vaswani Scholarships Fund for University of Ghana
- Vision Forever
- Flood Victims
- The Police Service
The Indian Women’s Association (IWA)
The Indian Women’s Association, though formed not long ago, is responsible for social and charitable service to the community. A noteworthy project undertaken by the group was to renovate and construct a female ward in the Military Hospital. This provided service for the sick, old and destitute patients of the Ghanaian society. More recently, Mrs. Naadu Mills, the First Lady of Ghana, inaugurated a new kindergarten facility built by the Indian Women’s Association of Ghana for the Nima Cluster of Schools in Accra.
Wide Spectrum of Commerce
The Indian private sector is steadily increasing its presence in Ghana especially in areas of pharmaceuticals, IT, trading, farming, automobiles, agro-processing and supply of agricultural equipment including tractors and rural electrifications. Some are also in the export business, and there are others are restaurateurs and pub owners. There are even some who are in the film and advertising business.
The IT sector is one of the areas with a lot of Indian investment; India is regarded as one of the super powers in Information Technology. Currently NIIT an Indian owned ICT educational organization is training a lot of Ghanaian youth in different IT programs.
It is expected that the graduates from this school would help place Ghana on the ICT map of the world. The contribution of the Indian Government in the establishment of the Kofi Annan ICT centre, the award of scholarships to Ghanaians to study in Indian through the annual Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and also scholarships for graduate and post graduate programs in India shows the extent to which India has the development of the human resource base of Ghana at its heart.
Social and Cultural Development
Hinduism is a minor religion in Ghana. Hinduism is spread in Ghana actively by Ghana’s Hindu Monastery, headed by Swami Ghananand Saraswati, a disciple of Swami Krishnananda.
The Indian Association, and its subsidiary the Indian Social & Cultural Center, with the assistance of the IWA, built a beautiful temple complex in Osu complete with statues of all deities, as far back as the 1980s, with a spacious entertainment hall and other facilities. There is fully equipped kitchen therein to cater for all the religious festivals.
The African Hindu Monastery (AHM) is a simple white structure in Odorkor, a suburb of the Ghanaian capital city of Accra. Started in 1975, the gentle-voiced Saraswati was born into the traditional African faith. Attracted by Hindu beliefs and the practice of yoga; he traveled to India and decided to embrace Hinduism. At 35, he returned to Ghana and acquired his first disciples, holding lectures to educate Ghanaians about this ancient and foreign religion.
Ghana’s population of 23 million includes 12,500 Hindus, of which 10,000, like their Swami Ghanananda Saraswati, are indigenous Africans. The African Hindu Monastery (AHM) is now Ghana’s largest centre of Hindu worship, followed by the ISCC Temple in Osu. The Sathya Sais, the Ananda Margis, ISKCON, Radha Soamis, Brahma Kumaris, are all active organizations in Ghana. There is a also GURUDWARA located at Tudu, Osu.
The Indian Diaspora in this country has been quite active socially. In Accra, it has set up an Indian Association and an Indian Social & Cultural Center, both of which function from the premises of an Indian Temple that has been constructed by the community in Accra. Various social and cultural programmes are organized there, as well as festivals to mark important religious days.
Currently there is one Indian School in Ghana - The Delhi Public School that has been established in the country in Sept 2010. Well-to-do Indian families send their children to the Ghana International School, while others prefer less expensive schools. Some members of the Indian Community even send their children to India or other countries for their education.
The Indian Community has played and continues to play a key role in many fields. The Indian Association has a representation on many Governmental Boards, Institutions and Charitable Organizations in Ghana. Many Indians have lived over 50 years in Ghana – the oldest resident has been in Ghana since 1939 – and they see Ghana as their first home.