Memoirs of MOBA centenary greenhorns (1976-1983) - Edited by Moses Ayiku Jnr and David Cornelius
This noble enterprise — Memoirs of the Centenary Greenhorns by MOBA 1981 — is a recollection of events and stories of the Mfantsipim School from 1976 to 1983. It covered a period of seven odd years.
Inspiration matters! As noted by the editors Moses Ayiku Jnr and David Cornelius the venture started off as a puzzle, but without the pieces needed to complete the project.
As the team recalled, “We started out by forming an editorial committee to assist with the book writing process.
Then we set up several WhatsApp platforms to collate stories, pictures, and audio contributions.
The platforms also allowed us to freely contribute our thoughts and opinions on the stories.”
At one point, the editorial team suffered a lapse in willpower, and even considered shutting down the project and admitting that they had failed.
But suddenly — like the flash from a lightning rod — an amazing thing happened.
Someone — bless his heart — wrote a particularly engaging story recollecting a memorable event of that period.
That recollection was so moving that it prompted many more to start exploring the memory lanes and share similar relatable stories! As a result, fresh anecdotes started to pour out in leaps providing materials that finally culminated in this magnificent 497-page book.
The book consists of 16 illuminating chapters, with many black & white and colour pictures.
The nine appendices include the 145th anniversary speech by James E.K. Dadson, and the 137th speech by Moses K. Baiden, Jnr, an iconic entrepreneur now blessed to serve as the new Ebusuapanyin, succeeding the indomitable Capt (Rtd) Paul Forjoe.
The effort, persistence, and grit of the editorial team reminded me of a quote by Henry Longfellow:
“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
Far too often we tend to see the sparkle and permanence of the present but hardly the vision that releases boundless potential into solid accomplishments.
Determination — being a fleeting thing — not too many groups choose to persevere, to hold on for the lush finality.
For that reason alone, the 1976 centenary greenhorns deserve to be applauded bountifully.
As I noted in a previous writing, every school has a pride of place in the history of its unique beginnings.
But that pride, first and foremost, must radiate — unblemished — from the very core of each school’s beneficiaries.
And why miss that golden opportunity to demonstrate that gratitude in refined ways as exemplified by the centenary greenhorns of Kwabotwe?
The inspiration that drove this wonderful project reminded me of Mfantsipim’s very humble genesis.
In 1876, the school was founded, it seemed, from a collection plate in a mission house.
The accidental founding headmaster, a 19-year-old teenager, James Picot, was enticed for the job by his elder brother of the Wesleyan Mission.
The adolescent began as the only teacher, and after a few years (1876-1878), he left the Gold Coast to finish his own education back home in Britain. He did not return to the job.
The reputation as a world-renowned secondary school tends to outshine the fact that time after time, the school itself was virtually broke, and homeless.
But, as the editors noted, it persevered to produce the likes of Joe Appiah, R.P. Baffour, Alex Quaison-Sackey — the first African to preside over the United Nations General
Assembly, Kofi Annan — the first sub-Saharan African Secretary-General of the United Nations, and many more.
In reviewing this book, I couldn’t help but stop to reflect on a chapter noting some prominent achievers: such as Kweku Awotwi, Kweku Bedu-Addo, K. Amissah-Arthur, Kwasi Twum, Ashim Morton (now Nana Agyeman Prempeh), Philip Bondzi-Simpson, Philip Addison, Joe Ghartey, Hans Djaba, Bruce Thompson, Ernest Kakra Essamuah, James Kodwo Morgan, K.B. Coleman, Kwesi Bentsi-Enchill, K.B. Quaison-Sackey, E.O. Mills-Lamptey, Kwamena A. Beecham, Fiifi Brandful, Alex Quaynor, Kwasi Prempeh-Eck, Anthony Forson Jnr, Ace Annan Ankomah, Daniel Ogbarmey-Tetteh, Nortey Omaboe and numerous others.
A few months back, when David Cornelius visited my McCarthy Hill office, Accra, to announce the makings of this book and to include my piece on the late headmaster, B.K. Dontwi, I had no idea, the project would add such a steady stream of history to our beloved school. In my opinion, the editors have produced historic sketches best only after Prof. Adu-Boahen’s seminal work, “Mfantsipim in the making of Ghana.”
As Fiifi Brandful — the centenary head boy (1976/77) — noted in his foreword, this book is the first of its kind.
For other MOBA year groups, then, there is ample room to continue this tradition every five years or so.
As an example, this reviewer’s own book, Mfantsipim: The Making of a Great School covered a period of five years, 1961 to 1966.
In our time, the scale of values was measured by the commitment of men who believed in educating the youth in the best interests of the nation, as was shown by iconic exemplars like Francis L. Bartels, Rev W.B. Brandful, Joseph Abruquah, O.K. Monney and others.
And way before that Mfantsipim could brag about commitments shown similarly by John Mensah Sarbah, J.E. Casely-Hayford, and the Faithful Eight.
It was refreshing to note that in the era of the centenary greenhorns, administrators, and teachers such as Acquaye-Baddoo, K.B. Dontwi, Crosby Eshun, Dora Disu, T.S. Turkson, Cosmos Ochran, Ms K.A. Dovlo, and others availed themselves to continue that tradition.
The book will be of great use in motivating other schools to also consider and take an inventory of their past circumstances and present successes.
As noted earlier, every school has a pride of place in this beautiful country of ours and it’s worth illuminating their successes from the hilltops.
(The book will be launched Wednesday, November 8, 2023, at 5:30 p.m. at the Ecobank Head Office, Ridge, Accra.
The review will be done by yours truly, avec plaisir)
The writer is a trainer of teachers, leadership coach, motivational speaker and quality education advocate.