NSMQ2023, my butterflies, my rosary
I have had butterflies in my stomach for the past week or so, which is to say I have been rather anxious.
But let me quickly add a disclaimer.
The butterflies in my stomach are not the political type that fluttered on the scene a few weeks ago to much fanfare, nor have they anything to do with the impending New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential primaries this weekend, whose outcome, I believe, is quite obvious.
My beloved Opoku Ware School has qualified for the final of the 2023 National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) alongside PRESEC Legon and Achimota School.
Oh, you did not know?
Well, now you do.
If butterflies ever danced kpalogo or azonto in my stomach during any of this year’s contests, it was during the semi-final that saw Opoku Ware School, Prempeh College and Pope
John’s SHS/Minor Seminary battle it out for a slot at the final.
To many, this was the final before the final.
Both students and alumni of archrivals Opoku Ware and Prempeh knew what was at stake and did not even want to think of the prospect defeat.
It was our version of ‘el classico’, our derby on Kumasi soil.
It was our showdown.
You blink, you sink.
I now understand how it is that grown men weep ferociously, refuse food and even offers of warm connubial bliss when their football teams lose crucial matches.
Perhaps it was a good thing I solidified my belly with a generous, concrete-like helping of fufu ahead of the contest.
Insurance is a good thing.
I could not bear to watch the contest on TV or listen to it on the radio.
Every now and then, I would raise my head above the figurative parapet and take a peek on the various
Akatakyie WhatsApp platforms to monitor progress and then scurry back into my little corner, praying furtively, my rosary dangling from my fingers.
When victory eventually came, it was delicious, and I immediately took to calling my Prempeh College alumni friends to say hello and have a chat about the weather and the benefits of cod liver oil.
Unsurprisingly, they steadfastly refused to pick my calls.
It did not matter.
The final now beckoned.
I could smell the sweet, metallic aroma of the trophy, and my nose began to twitch.
AWA flight, school numbers
In the run-up to the final, social media was awash with news and images of the three Achimota and Presec contestants being flown from Kumasi to Accra aboard Africa World Airlines (AWA) per sponsorship arrangements with Prime Time, organisers of the quiz.
They had alumni of their respective schools as captains of their flights.
Tongues began to wag.
Did Opoku School have an AWA pilot to equal the feat?
But we serve a living God, and quietly, we provided the answer in the person of Katakyie Said Naaman (BN525), a pilot with AWA.
He proudly flew our boys into Accra on AWA107 last Tuesday.
The circle was now complete.
All three schools had taken the contest to another level and were entitled to equal alumni pilot bragging rights.
By sheer coincidence, the school number of one of the boys, Andrews Oppong Damptey, is BZ525, meaning he is Kat; Naaman’s junior number, and they struck off on a good bond when they discovered they were ‘related’ by number.
In Opoku Ware circles, this is a big deal, given the centrality of school numbers to our very existence since 1952, when the pioneering class of students was accorded the letter K.
This meant the first student to be admitted was K1, followed by K2 all the way to K60, the last to be admitted that year.
When the single letters were exhausted, we resorted to AB, through to AZ, then to BC, ran to BZ and then started with CA, with the current Form One students are the CB group.
I am AF147, meaning I was the 147th student to be admitted when the AF batch entered the school in 1980.
As I peck away at my laptop on Sunday evening, my rosary by my side, I had no idea how the final contest will turn out yesterday.
By the time you get to read this column, however, you will know the 2023 NSMQ champion.
What I can say with certainty, however, is that our boys are not timorous souls.
They have worked hard towards this contest, and after a long NSMQ cup drought, we are looking forward to lifting it and taking it to Kumasi.
The butterflies have now been exiled from my stomach.
‘Deus Lux Scientiae’, goes our school motto in Latin.
God is the Light of Knowledge.
Head, Communications & Public Affairs Unit,
Ministry of Energy.