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Welcome to Jericho, Lebanon, New York, Middle East: Ashaiman’s ‘foreign’ communities

BY: Benjamin Xornam Glover
W.T. Mensah Street in Ashaiman Middle East
W.T. Mensah Street in Ashaiman Middle East

Initially known as Mpoase, Ashaiman was founded in the 17th century by the late Nii Tetteh Amui I, a native of Tema.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic recently, the Regent of Ashaiman, Nii Annang Adzor, said Nii Tetteh Amui I was a fisherman who settled in the area to carry out farming activities due to low catches.

According to the regent, Nii Amui had a friend named Doku Ashai who would normally travel from Tema to Dodowa to trade. On one occasion when Nii Ashai was heading towards Saasabi en route to Dodowa, he met Nii Amui who offered him a piece of land to settle on.

Nii Adzor said as time went by, the town became a meeting place for traders who were moving between Tema and Dodowa to trade and became known as Ashaiman, translated as ‘Ashai’s town’.

Over time, the town has increasingly become the recipient of a large number of migrants from all over Ghana and some West African countries. The population of the municipality, according to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, stands at 208,060, with 103,410 males and 104,650 females.

Due to the influx of people from the West African sub-region, many refer to the community as the “United States of West Africa”.


Expansion

Over the period, the population of Ashaiman has increased and the town has expanded, giving way to more suburbs springing up, some of which bear names of foreign cities.

From suburbs such as Tulaku, Market Square, Fitter Line, Taboo Line, Tsinai Agbe, Zongo Laka, Roman Down, Night Market, Asensu Bar, Official Town, Taifa, Newtown, Valco Flats, Afariwaa, Christian Village and Atadeka, the community has expanded to include new suburbs such as Middle East, Jericho, Lebanon Zones one to five, New York and Washington among others.

But how come these “foreign” names became attached to suburbs when most residents living in areas with such names probably have absolutely no idea how those names came to be associated with the area or suburb?

One may tend to think these areas are actually named after these foreign cities because perhaps they share similar attributes with them, but that is not the case.

The regent of Ashaiman explained that in a few cases, persons returning from those foreign lands who resided first in the new places named the places after the foreign country or city they had sojourned in.

Lebanon

In the case of Lebanon, Nii Adzor said most of the military personnel who returned to Ghana from peacekeeping duties in Lebanon, the country located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, bought lands in those areas and put up properties.

He said Ashaiman Lebanon was demarcated from zones one to five, adding that with time and as a result of population growth and expansion, suburbs such as the Middle East, Jericho, New York and Washington, named by been-tos or returnees from those states or countries, emerged.

He said the new suburbs had brought a lot of changes to the city, whereas in the past the town had to bear the tag as the citadel of all sorts of crime, filth and other violent practices.

That impacted negatively on the development of the area to the extent that some people shied away from being considered residents of the area; however, the situation had changed greatly, he said.

Nii Adzor noted that the negative image of Ashaiman had changed and it was now a place where people could feel a lot more comfortable.

So the next time you are in a trotro to Jericho or order a ride via a ride-hailing app to visit a friend at Jericho, be sure to ask for further clarification as the Jericho in question could be the Ashaiman Jericho, which is completely different from what is mentioned in the Bible.

You also do not need travel documents to travel to New York, Washington, Lebanon or Middle East since they are all communities in Ghana.

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