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Since time immemorial Associations have existed in the ZONGO community,  commonly known as
“MEETINGS”. These meetings are mostly organized and headed by women. The leader is often called “Auntin Meeting.” She is often the outspoken one among her colleagues who would mostly refer to her as “magajiya.”

This head acts as the group's treasurer who receives financial contributions from members and give it back to them when an occasion arises.

But it is quite unfortunate that most of these meetings prioritize “AWURE” (weddings) and "SUUNA" (naming ceremonies). For these occasions, members contribute cash and food stuffs towards the event. Buying of “Yaayi,” a matching piece of fabric or lace for the occasion is the most important and OUTSTANDING part of the occasion for members of the association or meeting.

Each person spends between 200-500GH cedis to buy and sew these “Yaayi." It is usually regarded as a show of support for the fellow colleague whose event is being attended. However, for others, it is a means to flaunt their little or nonexistent wealth to feel a sense of belonging among their peers.

In most cases, those who cannot afford to fit-in are sidelined. They are often denied the “RABO” or gifts at the occasion since money for  these gifts are usually factored into the cost of fabric for the occasion. In effect, whoever doesn't show up in the "prescribed" fabric is shunned.

For many, these associations have caused more harm than good since their popularity started soaring. It now serves as an avenue for competition among members.

These event grounds have become a place for association members to flaunt expensive fabrics, cars, gold jewelry usually referred as “DAHAM” and even gold teeth.

A large number of these women take loans, borrow money, sell their properties and at times buy on credit only to please other members and end up giving the big gifts “Baban Rabo.”

Usually, events with this kind of characteristics are tagged as “Baban Awure/Suuna” big wedding/naming ceremony and the person who gifts these is called “Baban Yariya” big girl. Those with cars become more visible as they roll their keys to announce their presence.

This unfortunate phenomenon is putting pressure on women in the zongo communities and is misleading young ones who also form groups and end up being influenced to buy or borrow iphones  to show off among their peers. In their case, the person with the latest iphone is also the “Baban Yariya” or Big girl as they take pictures and videos and share them on social media.

But the big question is, are these associations recognized or properly registered?

In a recent interview between host of ZONGOLINK, Royal Mariam and the Secret Billions club in Ashiaman, it was revealed that most of these "meetings” have no idea about the importance of REGISTERING with the appropriate authorities.

Members do not also know that their monies are rather safe when their associations are registered because they can sue the head or any member should something go wrong with their monies.Some don’t know their monies can be given to their children should they die.
These Aunties face several issues as most members runaway with other peoples contributions.The Aunties themselves also spend or runaway away with the money.

However in a recent interview between host of ZONGOLINK, Royal Mariam and the Secret Billions club in Ashiaman, it was revealed that the phenomenon is gradually changing in some of these meetings or associations. The Secret Billions club is setting the pace by going beyond the big gifts, fancy fabrics and the extravagant awure and suuna. They have taken up charity projects by donating to orphanages, organizing health walks for members, offering counseling sessions, free apprenticeship trainings and even taking off some bills for members in need. They actually have a bank account with signatories and these contributions by members are well managed.

This is certainly a step in the right direction and a much more better approach. Its high time we get our Association/meetings registered with the appropriate instistuitions and monies taken to the bank with 2 0r 3 member as signatories.Lets do away with irrelevant stuffs like the yaayi and the Baban Rabo and rather invest the money either in our childrens education or business.
Association are not that bad but lets invest wisely from the  money made in the associations.

Mariam Shaibu

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