Achimota School Must Not Be Closed!!!

I just received an Electronic-Mail (E-mail) petition from somebody called Duodu; the petition itself was unsigned but that was the name garnered from the E-mail address which had a United Kingdom location. It had to do with the effective collapse of the sewage system servicing Achimota School, the comprehensive collegial matrix – or foundation – of Ghana’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana at Legon. The petition also indicated that part of the problem had to do with the inordinate pressure that the illegal encroachment of private homeowners, who had indiscriminately erected residences on landed property belonging to the school, had brought to bear on the school’s highly limited and aging sewage system. None of the foregoing came as a surprise to me, anyway, being that as I recently indicated elsewhere vis-à-vis the fast-disintegrating Adomi Bridge, the dispiriting culture of abject neglect of public property is very Ghanaian, in fact, as Ghanaian as Nsawam Buns Bread or Mamfe Tart. Still, I am personally more concerned about the kind of near-bestial neglect that allowed an already bad situation to spiral out of control, thus precipitating this S-O-S or emergency cry for help. To say the least, this apparently chaotic state of affairs is simply lunatic. For Achimota School boasts of an honor roll of distinguished graduates all across our nation, in general, and continental Africa, in particular, that is readily without compare. And the fact that the list includes prominent leaders of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), among them substantive premier John Evans Atta-Mills and former strongman and elected premier Jeremiah John Rawlings (a man who has not hesitated to brag about his distinguished alma mater to American television audiences) makes a horrible situation all the more shameful and appalling. On the continental side, you have the deposed founding president of The Gambia, Mr. Dauda (formerly David) Jawara; and then the father of the most recent abortive plane terrorist Mr. Abdulmutallab, of Yemen and Nigeria. Incidentally, as I indicated earlier on elsewhere, the Yemeni maternal nationality of Mr. Abdulmutallab was being “strategically” downplayed by the mainstream American media until it became glaringly evident that, indeed, the younger Mr. Abdulmutallab had received his training and marching orders from a Yemenite Muslim cleric. Anyway, for me, personally, Achimota rings with domestic pride, being that the founding School Prefect (or SP) was Mr. William (Paa Willie) Ofori-Atta, a Kyebi boy, and a paternal granduncle and a member of the legendary Big Six founding fathers of postcolonial Ghana. We must also mention, at least in passing, the seminal instrumentality of Osagyefo Nana Sir Ofori-Atta I, The Okyenhene (1912-1943), in both the conception and establishment of Achimota School. Then also, we have my own maternal elder aunt, Mary Baadua Sintim, who was classmates and friends with the celebrated Mr. Kofi Antubam, a J. B. Danquah protégé and genius creator of both Ghana’s State Chair and Mace. In brief, when you add up the preceding what you arrive at, in terms of the significance, role, function and status of Achimota in our national affairs are the words “Treasure” and “Heritage.” The question, however, becomes one of whether, indeed, contemporary Ghanaian leaders are capable of civically appreciating what “landmark conservation and preservation” means. Needless to say, about the only cardinal institution that precedes Achimota in both the history and development of Ghanaian education is the now-Presbyterian University College at Akuapem-Akropong, formerly the Presbyterian Teachers’ Training College (PTC). As I write in response to the Achimota crisis (2/6/10 – on exactly the 114th anniversary of the birth of Rev. T. H. Sintim, my maternal grandfather and role-model), the petition sender notes that Achimota stands the risk of imminent and perennial closure unless, of course, something by way of prompt remedial intervention is emplaced. Alas, gauging from President Atta-Mills’ rather embarrassingly lethargic response to the victims of the Haitian earthquake, one cannot be very optimistic unless, of course, one also decides to revise the lackluster record of the NDC in order to charitably include the, admittedly, creditable account of the stunningly prompt $ 20,000 reward proffered members of the Ghanaian contingent to the 2010 edition of the African Cup of Nations (CAN 2010). The concomitant problem inherent in an Achimota bailout by the government, however, is the likelihood of a host of other landmark junior academies, such as my own alma maters of Okwawu-Nkwatia’s St. Peter’s (PERSCO) and Prempeh College (Amanfoo), for example, calling for similar economically unsustainable public assistance. Consequently, and as a pragmatic interim measure, what I would humbly suggest is that a comprehensive list of Who’s Who Among Old Achimotans be drawn up by the “Motown” alumni association, with the express aim/purpose of soliciting private funding for the prompt addressing of this situational emergency. The mere fact that Achimota was wholly established by the Ghana Government and therefore it being the bona fide property of the State is not a sustainable argument, especially in these economically trying times all over the globe. I am also quite certain that absolutely no executive edict, whatsoever, could be legitimately invoked to restrain or even prevent Achimota from taking delivery of such most-needed assistance without meeting with prompt and harsh national outcry. To be sure, our leaky NDC government could not be more grateful for such creative initiative. Who knows? Oguaa Kofi could even be forced to stealthily borrow a page or two from such innovative and creative initiative. *Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the pro-democracy think tank, and author of 21 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/, 2008). E-mail: [email protected] ###