Per Hanson (see page 194), Mahdi Appah was dead by 1929. Per Fisher (see page 117, published in 1963), the precursor to Ahmadiyya in Ghana was a man named Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr seems to have had some type of connection with the British Army via the Anglo-Ashanti wars. It’s unclear who’s side he was on, nevertheless, he seems to have been a Muslim and he converted two members from the Fante people, Benjamin Sam and Mahdi Appah. However, Hanson tells us that a man named Amadu Ramano Pedro who was an Afro-Brazilian Ahmadi, seems to have facilitated Ahmadiyya in Ghana (See page 168). Hanson tells us that Pedro was looking to gain converts in 1910 and he seems to have met Yusuf Nyarko (Ben Sam‘s cousin) before he had his famous false dream. In the 1920’s, Amadu Ramano Pedro left Ahmadiyya in the 1920’s and joined another ex-Qadiani, Lawal Basil Agusto (See Hanson).
The first contact with Ahmadiyya in Ghana can perhaps be attributed to a consequence of Sam’s cousin (Yusuf Nyarko) who dreamt of white men called “Muslims”, (See Fisher, page 118) with whom he was praying. (See Antoine 2010, p. 77, The term “white” corresponded to non-African foreigners. Thus, Ahmadi Muslims from the Indian subcontinent were counted among the “whites”. Before the invitation, the young group of orthodox Muslims were not aware of the existence of “white” Muslims. See:Antoine 2010, p. 3 and Antoine 2010, p. 77). Hanson asserts that it was Amadu Ramano Pedro who facilitated contact between the 300 Fante Muslims and the Qadiani’s.
Mahdi Appah was born a Pagan. The birth name of Mahdi Appah was Aduogyir Appah. After converting to the Ahmadiyya movement, he changed his first name to Mahdi. He converted to Christianity via Benjamin Sam and seems to be his follower (See Fisher). It seems that Abu Bakr converted them to Islam (See Fisher). It also seems that Mahdi Appah could read some English, however, Urdu and Arabic were out of the question. Benjamin Sam was a trader and a Wesleyan teacher-catechist, he got Mahdi Appah to convert to Christianity, and then to convert to Islam via Abu Bakr (See Fisher, page 117).
Islam grew rapidly among the Fante people (See Fisher, page 117). Starting from Ekrofol, Sam self-designated himself as its Imam, and quickly built a community of 500 Fante Muslims across southern Ghana (Samwini, page 37). Thus, only 500 of the Fante people converted to Islam.
At times, Muslim clerics from the northern regions continued to supervise the growing, but nascent group of Muslims in southern Ghana. In July 1896, a secular Muslim school was opened in Ekrofol, and Appah was appointed as its manager (See Fisher, page 117). However, the northern clerics expressed strong disapproval of a secular-leaning school (See Fisher, page 118). Despite this, the school prospered with governmental assistance until 1908 when it was infected by Guinea worm disease and attendance soon dropped (See Fisher, page 118). As a convert from Christianity, Sam taught customs, brought from Christianity, that were sometimes considered un-Islamic. This was a major cause of disagreement between him and his friend Appah. As a result, Appah left Ekrofol (Samwini, page 37). Sam died soon after, in the same year the disease struck the school. Appah once again returned to Ekrofol and continued to propagate Islam among the Fante people (See Samwini, page 37 and Fisher, page 118).
It was believed by converts that the only people who prayed as Muslims were the northern Hausa. However, a resident in Saltpond, originally from Nigeria, informed the presence of the Indian-origin Ahmadiyya movement in Nigeria (See Antoine 2010, p. 77).
Soon, through the Review of Religions (See Fisher, page 118), the Fante Muslims under the leadership of Appah made contact with the caliph, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, in Qadian, India (See Samwini, page 37). The Muslims were no longer interested to remain under the spiritual guidance of the northern Ghanaians or Hausa Muslims. The caliph sent Al-Hajj Abdul Rahim Nayyar who sailed from London to Freetown, in Sierra Leone. After a short stay he arrived on 28 February 1921 to Saltpond, Ghana and started preaching in the first week of March 1921. (See Fisher, page 118 and Samwini, page 87). Following a lecture, the Fante community “believed there and then”, following which an oath of allegiance was held (See Antoine 2010, p. 77).
In the history of the Ahmadiyya Community, Mahdi Appah is regarded as the first Ghanaian to become an Ahmadi (“Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V – Service in Ghana”. Review of Religions. May 2008). Despite resistance from northern clerics, the Fante Muslims converted en masse, giving immediate rise to the Ahmadiyya movement in Ghana (See Fisher, page 118 and Samwini, page 87).
Mahdi Appah used Yusuf Nyarko’s dream to reassert his authority over Fante Muslims. Hedid so in part by calling a meeting of Fante Muslims at Mankessim. This town had been the center of an eighteenth-century Fante political coalition and, more recently, the site where late nineteenth-century political activists met to form the Fante Confederation on the eve of the British declaration of the Gold Coast colony. Meeting at Mankessim marked the significance of the meeting. It also avoided Ekrawfo, the historical base of the movement, and enabled Mahdi
Appah and Fante Muslims to discuss the Ahmadiyya in isolation from Yakubu, the savanna Muslim scholar who ran the Arabic school at Ekrawfo in the late igios. Appah could focus attention on the dream and not on issues of Muslim practice that divided the community. In 1919 Mahdi Appah was a newly engaged leader who used his influence to facilitate a meeting, explicitly to discuss a dream but perhaps implicitly to reconcile divisions in the Fante Muslim community created by the criticism of savanna Muslim scholars.
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