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Opinions of Monday, 17 October 2011

Columnist: Sagoe, Dominic

RE: Formal Education Started with the Akyems not Fantes - Konadu

Weird comments continue to be passed in Ghana’s political discourse. Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings is reported to have made one such utterance that betrays her attempt to rewrite the history of education in Ghana. Her comments have been published on many popular Ghanaian websites. I gather from her comments that Mrs Rawlings is in the process of writing a thesis, a brief synopsis of which she unwittingly revealed when she joined the good chiefs and people of Asamankese to celebrate this year’s Ohum festival. At the celebrations, she is reported to have said that “I have started writing all places where education first started in Ghana for everyone to know because some people think it started in the then Fante States. It is not true. It started from Akyem before spreading to Fanteland”. Yet again, Mrs Rawlings scores 3.1%. I agree that such an uninformed comment should ordinarily be ignored to make space for the discussion of more important issues. Nevertheless, just as I would produce my passport to provide evidence of my Ghanaian nationality, some facts regarding the history of formal education in Ghana must be reiterated.

On what premise(s) does Mrs Rawlings make this preposterous, ridiculous, and lugubrious claim that “Education started from Akyem before spreading to Fanteland”. None does she provide. The truism held in books such as C. K. Graham’s The History of Education in Ghana is that the advent of formal education in Ghana commenced with the establishment of the first “Castle school” in the Elmina Castle in 1482. However, I deem it important to state that oral tradition suggests otherwise. According to oral tradition, some people of Elmina received formal education under a huge tree called “Nkwa dua” meaning “Tree of life” in Elmina long before the completion of St George’s castle in Elmina in 1482. This location doubled as the venue where the 1st Catholic Christians in the Gold Coast celebrated mass prior to the completion of the Elmina castle. Thus, just as the first followers of Christ in Antioch came to be known as “Christians”, the earliest Christians in Elmina & the Gold Coast came to be known as “Nkwa dua ase asomfo” literally meaning “They who worship under the tree of life”. Sir Kt. Dr Annan-Prah of the University of Cape Coast and St. Joseph’s Basilica in Elmina can be contacted for further elucidation of historical facts on this issue.

If Mrs Rawlings has a grudge with any Fantes, obviously the president cum leading Fante founding members of the National Democratic Congress, let her not engage in the displacement of her venom unto the selective collection and massaging of historical facts to support the hypotheses of her upcoming thesis. Mrs Rawlings must note that she can never obfuscate the historical fact that Fanteland REMAINS the cradle of formal education in the Gold Coast and Ghana. Pioneering Fante educationists like Rev Phillip Quacoe, Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein, Anthony William Amo, Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey et al. are “giants” much taller than the “dwarfs” whose names she concedes “nobody even mentions or make reference to”. In sum, the facts support the truism that formal education in Ghana started in Fanteland and Mrs Rawlings cannot befuddle this truism.

Dominic Sagoe, Amisano, Elmina.