I was in Kumasi over the weekend for the 67th anniversary homecoming and speech and prize-giving day of my alma mater, Opoku Ware School.
Of course, as National Secretary of the Akatakyie fraternity, it was simply inconceivable that I would be absent. Santase, the Kumasi suburb where the school is situated, was the place to be.
Alma mater pride
The fraternity’s homecoming was led by two separate groups that left the school 25 years ago.
We had two groups because of the overlap between the GCE system and the Senior High School programme.
These are the AQ/AV400+ and AS groups. School numbers are unique to anyone who attends OWASS, and the subject deserves full article some other time.
It was great fun over the weekend as we renewed old friendships, reminisced over our formative years on campus, fraternised with the students, played football, sang, ate together and generally let our hair down and had great fun.
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And of course, we rewarded excellence by sponsoring prizes for deserving students and staff.
The enormity of pride and the sentimental attachment many alumni have for their secondary schools in this country is simply amazing. I suppose it is because this is where our formative teenage years were shaped the most, especially within the boarding school context.
The school gate!
We did not go empty-handed. Groups marking various milestones of leaving the school came bearing gifts, ranging from football jerseys, basketball kit, a renovated basketball court, an incinerator, a mechanised tricycle for refuse collection, signage for all the classrooms and various blocks, and a washroom facility.
But the jewel in the crown was a brand new school gate, an edifice of magnificent proportion bathed in the school’s gold and blue colours, with a giant clock sitting atop.
Over the weekend, this majestic edifice became the subject of intense ‘trolling’ of our beloved brothers of Sofoline’s Prempeh College, which has lost its main gate to the Kumasi-Sunyani highway and whose unimposing side gate now serves as the entrance.
The trolling was as merciless as it was intense, and it was interesting to note many of my loud-mouthed Prempeh College friends suddenly forgetting their social media passwords and going into self-imposed social media exile.
Eventually, the Prempeh boys found their voices and began to fight back, pointing out that our gate was not even particularly nice. Ha!! They kept reminding us that their school was three years older than ours so we should show respect.
We ignored them and dug the knife in further and kept twisting hard.
Of course, the rivalry between us and Prempeh is a healthy, brotherly one, as I am sure is the case with other local rivalries across the country.
I have witnessed several Mfantsipim v Adisadel College and Ghana Secondary v Tamale SHS ‘fights’ on social media.
I think these fights are the result of the deep sense of attachment that we have for our secondary schools.
The National Science and Maths Quiz, for instance, has become a ‘proxy’ war among various alumni as their schools battle for the top honours.
When OWASS was booted out of the competition by relatively lesser-known schools in two consecutive years, many of my schoolmates literally had to go into hiding.
Being rather loud-mouthed on Facebook in particular, I had to find somewhere to hide as the teasing intensified.
It was particularly galling to read from Prempeh College friends.
Maybe when they build an interchange on their campus, some of us will be silenced. Till then…
Our secondary schools are our pride and joy.
We give back freely and willingly, not because we feel like doing charity, but because we look back with fondness upon the special moments and people that shaped our lives many years ago.
Of course, the emotional attachment inevitably translates into a healthy competition, which is ultimately in our collective interest.
I look forward to another holy pilgrimage to Santase next year, when my class, the AF group, will be celebrating 35 years of leaving the school.
Let me emphasise, once again, that we have a magnificent school gate, unrivalled in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
And deep in their hearts, the Sofoline boys know that.
AF147 signs off.