Last Sunday afternoon, I attended a service at the Calvary Methodist Church in Adabraka in Accra for the induction into office the new executive of my alma mater, Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast.
As is my wont when significant events occur concerning the Only School for Gentlemen in West Africa and Abroad, I shall devote my column today to a broad overview of the event and its far-reaching ramifications, for the simple reason that anything to do with the school usually sets the tone and direction for similar events in other schools elsewhere in this country.
Formation of MOBA
Mfantsipim Old Boys Association, or MOBA as is wellknown, was formally established and put on a sound footing in 1947, that is 68 years ago, and 71 years after the founding of the school in 1876.
This was in the early years of the vaunted headmastership of FL Bartels. Obviously, some such nascent grouping of alumni of the school had existed to support the school prior to 1947 but the 1947 event served to focus their impact and concentrate disparate earlier efforts.
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To quote the Most Rev. Emmanuel Asante, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church who officiated at the induction: ‘’since then MOBA has formed an integral part of the Mfantsipim tradition with its creed of Dwen Hwe Kan, a tradition which goes on and grows from strength to strength.’’
Most Rev. Asante is an ex-officio chairman of the school board, and therefore the highest-ranking member of the school’s administration.
Error in previous article
But lest I forget, it was kindly brought to my apologetic notice that this column had an error of fact last week.
I had stated that Professor William Arthur Lewis, who was Economic Advisor to President Nkrumah in the First Republic, became President of Princeton University.
I had mistaken his appointment as a University Professor in Princeton and his membership of the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs based in Princeton for his presidency, that is, Vice Chancellor in our country, of the university.
Thank you, Mr. Michael Agbeko.
Back to our subject.
The service itself was very heavily patronised by old boys of all stripes and colours.
The clergy were led by the principal officiant, the Presiding Bishop, accompanied by the incoming Presiding Bishop, Right Rev. Titus Pratt, Right Rev. Kwaku Asamoah Okyere, the Administrative Bishop, and countless others with the pithy, warm sermon delivered by retired Bishop of Kumasi Diocese Methodist Church, and a 1961 old boy, Right Rev. Nuh-Ben-Abubekr.
His name should not deceive you, his father was an ex-CPP member of parliament for Obuasi in the 1950s.
Who led the alumni is an interesting question additional to the allied inquiry as to the oldest of them all in 2015.
Way back in 1976 at the centenary of the school, it was Myles-Abadoo and Rev. Dr. FCF Grant, the first President of the autonomous Methodist Church, having been students at the cusp of the century.
I saw at Sunday’s service Rev. Dr. Garbrah (MOBA 1946), and Dr. Dsane-Selby, (MOBA 1950), meaning both well over 80 years apiece, having left school over 65 years ago. What about those who represented cognate associations and groups?
The Vice President was there at his own right as MOBA 1969 and for the state, Madam Avril Lovelace-Johnson of the Appeals Court represented the Chief Justice. Nana Yaa Siriboe led the old girls from Wesley Girls’ High School and Kojo Yankah, for the Santaclausians and several others like Mfantsiman at Saltpond, and others who had messages in the massive glossy brochure.
The service itself was remarkable in several respects.
Take for example the organist for the service. Stanley Kofi Osborn Mensah is a form two pupil of the school and he was with the school choir which travelled all the way from Cape Coast to be part of the occasion.
He played the new pipe organ superbly. It is needless to add that both the organ in the church in Accra and the one in the school were donated by an old boy, Kofi Esson, now retired from Tullow Oil.
The delegation from the school was led by the headmaster, whose induction in March last year I had written about in this column.
The more significant question would be why was this lavish service followed by a reception necessary at all? MOBA National had come under a lot of stress in the past few years, fractious and quarrelling over direction, projects and funding and related matters.
All these have been played out in the vibrant media, with others of gentile stock watching keenly and happily the seeming self-destruction of this important part of our educational and adult experiences.
The matter needed to be resolved in a manner which demonstrated not merely our ancient stock and maturity, but to unite all alumni again in the perpetual, loving task of supporting the alma mater in ways that enhance the main aims and purposes for which the school was set up, without supplanting the school administration or duplicating efforts and thus wasting energies in fruitless acts of love.
The new and retiring MOBA national executives successfully used this induction service to unite all old boys and renew unstinting commitment to the fortunes of the school.
Old boy groups
Let me exemplify. Of the 44 odd old boy year groups qualified to elect national executives and the national council, 38 of them took part in the election of this new executive, signifying an overwhelming endorsement of the primacy of MOBA to lead and direct in all matters pertaining to old students.
This comprehensive mandate was given as proof of the desire of the overwhelming majority for peace and unity, and is sure to be copied by other schools whose alumnae are wallowing in disunity and turf fights.
To crown it all, in my opinion, the new MOBA President, Captain Paul Forjoe, (MOBA 1973), asked all those present during the service to give Dr. Francis Poku, aka Dentist Poku, (MOBA 1955), and his old executive a well-deserved standing ovation, to mark the gratitude of MOBA for holding the fort valiantly for 18 years.
That gesture alone, in the hallowed presence of the Presiding Bishop, among others, was to tell the world that MOBA is united, and would remain the only valid association of old boys worldwide, no matter they may be.
Let me conclude on the essence of the education offered in the school and colourfully captured by a prominent Ghanaian and old boy, now deceased.
In December 1979, after his appointment as our Foreign Minister by President Limann in the Third Republic, Dr. IK Chinebuah was interviewed on the BBC on his new appointment and perspectives.
The journalist had done his background checks well on the primacy of pride we in this country take in our educational experience and inquired whether Dr. Chinebuah, as a former headmaster of Achimota, was also an old Akora? He retorted sharply to national consternation; ‘No! I went to a far better school!’’