To Manasseh Azure Awuni: No insult to KRASEC (1)

With I.K. Gyasi

I have read Mr. Manasseh Azure Awuni’s article entitled, COMPARING KRASEC WITH MFANTSIPIM SCHOOL and published in THE CHRONICLE of Friday, November 12, 2010.

Let it be stated for the record that Mr. Awuni’s article was a rejoinder to my article entitled, FACTS WHICH AWUNI IGNORED, and published in the DAILY GRAPHIC of Tuesday, October 19, 2010.

That article of mine was also a rejoinder to Mr. Awuni’s piece entitled, POLITICIANS IN JOURNALISTIC CLOAK, and also published in THE DAILY GRAPHIC of Monday, October 19, 2010. The sub-title was THE EXAMPLE OF BOADU AYEBOAFO.

Contrary to Mr. Awuni’s assertion that I launched a “disdainful attack” on his alma mater, Krachi Senior School (KRASEC), I wish to assure him that I did not intend to mock his old school.

Anybody who attended T.I. Ahmadiyya Secondary School (now T. I. Ahmadiyya Senior High School) in Kumasi, as I did between 1950 and 1955, would be the last person to ridicule another school. Let me explain.

Prempeh College in Kumasi was founded in 1949, under the administration of the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church.

In 1950, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in the then Gold Coast established its first secondary school in Kumasi. The following year, 1951, saw the Opoku Ware School founded also in Kumasi, under Catholic control.

Of the three schools, the more substantially endowed, better known and preferred, were Prempeh College and Opoku Ware School.

In fact, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission started the school by ‘borrowing’ two classrooms from the Mission’s elementary school at Asafo in Kumasi. There were the Preparatory class and the Form 1 class.

Those of us who had not completed Standard Seven (Middle Form Four) were admitted to the Preparatory class, while those who had completed elementary school, were admitted to Form 1. That is how come I finished the course in 1955.

How did I come to be in the school? The Mission appealed to members to send their children (both boy and girls) and other relations to the school. I was in Middle Form 2 at the Adansi Brofoyedru United Middle School.

I do not even remember taking any entrance examination. Of course, the school was open to any person of school-going age, irrespective of religious belief or nationality. The school was a day school, and living conditions were not so easy for a boy who had come from a village at the age of 12.

It was not until 1954 that the school was moved to its present site, after the Mission had built a classroom block that became known as the ‘Blue train’ because of its length.

From 1950, when I was admitted to the school, up to 1955 when I left, the school was owned and managed by the Mission.

Apart from the Pakistani Principal and his Pakistani Vice Principal (as they were initially known), who had university degrees, the rest of the teachers, all Ghanaians, were non-graduate teachers.

As we were to know later, some of them did not have even the Ordinary Level General Certificate of Education (GCE).

Still, let me pay tribute to such teachers as Mr. Hayford (English Literature, Latin and Mathematics), Mr. Afagbedzi (Mathematics), Mr. Roberts (Biology) and Mr. Sanni Thomas (English Language).

The fact that the school was in Kumasi did not mean that we had everything easy. I recall the problem we had in our final year (there were seven of us), when Mr. Hayford left, and we had to order one of the set books ourselves from Britain. It was Tomlinson’s novel, GALLION’S REACH.

The school was in Kumasi, but how many wanted to obtain admission, when Prempeh and Opoku Ware beckoned? In any case, many people though that since the school was founded by a Muslim Mission, only Arabic or Hausa was taught.

Years after the school was established, the prejudice and misconception persisted. When I. B. K. Addo, who had finished in 1954, and I went to do the post-secondary teacher training course at the then Kumasi College of Technology (now Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology), many of our fellow teacher trainees had not heard of the school.

I went to training college because I had not heard of something called Sixth Form. Even if I had, which school would admit me with my Grade 2 certificate and Aggregate 19?

How did I find myself in the Kumasi College of Technology? I was told by one of my mates that there was going to be a common entrance examination to be conducted at the College. I also took myself there, wrote the examination, passed an interview, and got admitted.

I admit that after 60 years of its existence, REAL AMASS, as the school is popularly known, has made great academic and sporting strides.

I am proud of the school, as testified by the fact that all five children of mine passed through its doors to finish university.

I cannot tell whether I have convinced Mr. Awuni that I am in no position to mock his school or any other school, for that matter.

Moreover, as one time Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Conference of Heads Assisted Secondary School (CHASS) and a member of the National Executive, I was in the forefront of encouraging heads of the new senior secondary schools to see themselves as being on an equal footing with heads of the older schools.

As already stated above, I did not go to a well-known secondary school, even if it was in Kumasi. Before that, I had attended a village elementary school established by the Methodist Church at Adansi Brofoyedru, between 1942 and 1947.

My parents never had the opportunity to go to school though, somehow, my father learnt to write his initials, ‘MGK,’ which stood for Mohammed Kwaku Gyasi. He could also write and read simple figures.

He worked variously as food crop and cocoa farmer. He also once ventured into the timber industry, but he was not too successful. He was also a cocoa broker for the United Africa Company (UAC), and later for the United Ghana Farmers Council (UGFC).

Of course, he was one of the most respected elders of Adansi Brofoyedru, and also of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission whose Adansi Circuit President he was until his death. The name Opanin Mama Gyasi was a popular in Adansi and beyond. He was the Adansi Chief Farmer.

Still, he may not even have a footnote or a line in any general, economic or political history of Ghana.

Mr. Awuni, like you, I am not a big man’s son who grew up in the city in a prosperous home full of educated people, and who attended the best private preparatory schools and secondary schools.

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