Mrs Victoria Hanson-Nortey is an educationist and Proprietress of the Vichans International School located at Abelenkpe, off the Achimota-37 main road in Accra.
She was born on Sunday, September 28, 1930 to Obrempong Eddy Laryea and Madam Augustina Adorkor Mingle at Osu, Accra, in the pre-colonial era.
At age 12, she was the only surviving child of her parents. Her two older sisters died even before she was born. However, she lived with her two older brothers until they died one after the other before she became a teenager.
Her family initially lived in the Nyonmo Wo Kweo House at Osu with the extended family, made up of her many uncles and aunties, as well as cousins, but relocated shortly after Victoria was born.
Mrs Hanson-Nortey, also known as Victoria Laryea (maiden name), started school at the St Thomas Infant School at Osu at age six in 1956. She continued to the Presbyterian Girls’ School for her basic education.
Her father was a civil servant. He is said to be one of the first to buy and own a private car at Osu.
Victoria paid her parents back well. She studied really hard at school, making it easy for her parents and teachers to tip her as an over-qualified student of Achimota School.
However, as the saying goes, “No condition is permanent”. Victoria’s condition changed from near perfect to worse when her parents divorced.
That came as a big blow to the young girl who was thriving at school and in church.
She joined the Osu Ebenezer Presbyterian Church choir at the age of 15 and was the youngest chorister.
She had the privilege to sing solos and was the one taking Pastor Richster’s Bible and books to and from church service.
By her own confession, life became harder and even unbearable when her parents divorced.
She had to live with her stepmothers in her father’s house, doing all manner of hard chores, including carrying huge buckets of water beyond what her strength could bear.
Unfortunately for Victoria, at age 18, by the time she had passed her basic education examination with distinction and awaiting her Achimota dream to materialise, she got the rudest of news that she could not continue with her education.
That was suggested by one of her maternal aunties, Aunty Dee, and supported by the uncle she lived with, Mr Yebuah.
According to them, being the only child left for her parents, she needed to start having children for them; therefore, her books must be done away with.
That decision was made purely on the basis of the fear that Victoria could also die at any time, since her older siblings had all died mysteriously.
The family believed that maintaining the lineage was of more importance than her education.
She couldn’t bear it but she had to obey whatever decision was made concerning her. With her education off the line, she had to start preparing for the next passage of rite – marriage!
A wish at 16 years
During one of Victoria’s school days at Presby Girls’ School, something rather strange happened to her that till date, she does not understand what that thing was. All she knows is that she is enjoying the result of that encounter – her long and successful marriage with Mr Lawrence Hanson-Nortey.
From school that day, she got under a big cashew nut tree on her way home. There was a rushing wind coming close and she could feel it.
Before Victoria realised, she had made a wish rather unconsciously, amidst the rushing wind.
She said: “God please when it is time for me to marry, give me a man of good character so that my children will emulate him.
Also give me a girl for my first child, and let her be born on Sunday like myself.”
It was a mere wish to her, but six years down the line, at age 22, those wishes came to pass when she married Mr Hanson-Nortey, who, according to her, is the man of the very wish she had made when she was only a child.
Their wedding was the first ever to happen in the Nyonmo Wo Kweo House in 1952.
A little over a year after their marriage, the young couple had their first child – a daughter born on Sunday, just as she had wished for!
They have five beautiful children, made up of four females and a male, 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
The two have been married for 65 years now. In fact, in 2012, they were adjudged the oldest married couple in Ghana at a Valentine event held at the Alisa Hotel.
The professional teacher
As a child, Victoria wanted to be a teacher but the abrupt end of her education drained that dream. Nevertheless, she held on to the dream even though she didn’t know how it was going to come through.
By the help of one of her cousins, Mrs Rose Ansong, coupled with her own hard work at the Common Entrance Examination and interviews, Victoria gained admission to the Ola Training College in Cape Coast to be trained as a teacher for a period of one year. That was in 1958.
After serving at a school in a village called Ayirinsa, Sekondi, for her national service, she applied to the Holy Trinity College in Takoradi to obtain a Certificate ‘A’ in teacher training.
All that while, the couple were living in Takoradi.
Mr Hanson-Nortey had been posted to the Ghana Secondary/Technical School as a head teacher in 1954.
As fate would have it, Mrs Hanson came to teach at Achimota School in 1982, many years after her teacher training.
That was the school she had wanted to be.
Before Achimota School, in 1977, she was posted to South Labadi Experimental School where she taught for five years.
There, she taught Mr Peter Mahama, an older brother of former President John Mahama.
In 1975, she moved to the University Primary School, Legon, where she taught for 14 years and rounded up her teaching career in the public sector in 1989.
Miss Western Region
Before becoming a professional teacher, Victoria was a one-time beauty queen. She was crowned Miss Western Region in 1957.
That was the regional competition held nationwide to select regional winners who would converge on Accra for the ultimate – Miss Ghana 1957 prize.
It was part of Ghana’s Independence celebrations.
At the Jubilee Park that fateful day, Victoria had joined the many people who thronged the park to witness the first-ever beauty pageant to be organised in the region and for that matter, Ghana.
Much against her wish, she was pulled into the contest by coercion. In the long run, she was announced the winner with the ‘contestant number one’ tag.
Instead of rejoicing over this feat, Victoria rather broke into tears – tears for the unknown back home because she asked permission from her husband to go to the park as a spectator, not a contestant. Moreover, she had kids to take care of.
Regardless, she accepted the ‘Miss Western Region Crown’ but later on opted out of the competition, which was scheduled to take place in Accra.
Miss Amokoafi, contestant number 9 from the Volta Region, was the winner of Miss Ghana 1957.
Mrs Hanson-Nortey, who celebrates her 88th birthday today, September 28, is currently the proprietress of Vichans International School and fellowships with the Grace Congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana at Maamobi, where she holds the ‘Mother of the Church’ honour.
She was a lay preacher for 12 years and has served in various capacities at the national level of the church.
Her children are: Mrs Cynthia Shormeh Aryiku, Mrs Augusta Korlei Brobby, Mrs Regina Ashiokai Mate-Kole, Mr Lawrence Nii Noi Hanson-Nortey and Mrs Victoria Maku Vaughan-Williams.
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