Feature Article of Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

Schooling In The 50s 60s And 70s In Ghana

Down Memory Lane – Schooling In The 50s 60s And 70s In Ghana



I was in primary class 1 when Ghana had independence in March 1957 and I will never forget the sumptuous party which was laid on for us at the then WACRI (now CRIG) Town Hall in Akyim Tafo where my father was working as a bricklayer. At the party, I drank so much Portello (pinkish ale) and ate so much Gem Biscuits that when I went home, I could hardly touch the fufu and palmnut soup which my mother had prepared. In August 1959, my father went on pension and all of us had to relocate from Akyim Tafo to Winneba, our hometown. I joined the Methodist Primary School in Primary 3 with my twin sister and two other older siblings. The Methodist Primary School at Winneba was an eye opener as the school had multiple streams and the head of the school, one Mr K.K. Arthur, was famously notorious for not sparing the rod. My class 3 teacher was one Mr Essandoh. Every morning, we went through the ritual of singing and dancing to Ghanaian highlife tunes such as one Ga song, ‘ola kalaka mi, o la kalaka mi…’…After such joviality, we would then be suddenly subjected to a torrent of canes as our left-handed teacher conducted mental arithmetic drill. The whole room would suddenly turn into a mourning group and our tears could perhaps form rivulets and flow to the Atlantic Ocean which was visible a few hundred metres from our school block. The school had a band with side drums, fifes/flutes, bugle, cymbals, triangles and castanets. Every morning, Master K K Arthur reviewed the march past with his terrible cane not missing from his hefty hands. He kept an eagle eye for proper marching and inspected our school uniforms. One day, he caught me unawares with one of my shirt buttons off and hell was let loose with a torrent of cane strokes on me, which sent me running at top speed towards home to get my button stitched. At another time, in Primary 4, word went round that we the short and smallest boys in the Balmer (Blue) Section, marched improperly with a limp in our march. Master K K Arthur stormed into our classroom and fished us out, with two hefty guys stretching each of us out, hands and legs with the cane descending heavily on our tautly drawn khaki shorts at the buttocks. Because of such hazards and harassment, some guys sewed pieces of tarpaulin inside their khaki shorts! There were particular boys who never winced, no matter the number of strokes given. Maybe they had juju. For me, Kwesi Atta, a stroke of the cane was anathema and I would dither and writhe in pain, shouting at the top of my voice. I bet, the teachers had the last laugh. Luckily, I did not usually fall into caning spree trap as I was pretty smart with my arithmetic, dictation, history, geography, scriptures and all. The area which I loathed most was craft as I loved books. I read almost anything. By Primary 6, I was on top of the class till Standard 7. Though, some girls in Primary 5 and 6 gave me a run for my money. From middle school Form 1 (standard 4 to standard 7), we were separated from our girls as we went to the famous Winneba Methodist Middle Boys School (WMMBS), which was just a stone throw away from my house. I remember famous headteachers such as Master Markin (Obo), Master J F Acquaye, Master A B Yamoah, Master Browne, Master Henry Eguase Mills Robertson, all of them of blessed memory.

This middle school has produced prominent citizens, among whom are K N Arkaah, Dr Alex Quaison Sackey, Alhaji Amusa Bello, Dr Don Arthur, Dr Kow Kittoe, Dr K K Mills Robertson, Dr Verb Blankson, Dr Kow Garban, Dr Rev Ekow Ghunney, Neenyi Kobena Ghartey, Dr Eric Thompson, Dr John Thompson, Lt Col Yarboi, Brig. Gen Nunoo-Mensah, Dr Akwasi Acheampong, Lt Col Dontoh, Col Ebenezer Ghartey, Oman Gyan Blankson, K K Taylor, K.B Ghartey, Dr Ayirebi Acquah, Wonderful Dadson, Police Commissioner Ghunney, Police Commissioner A. Amoako, Dr Wobil, Dr K Amoako, Mr Colcraft, among others. The WMMBS excelled both in sports and academics as we were the envy of our counterparts in other schools, including the Zion, Anglican and Catholic schools. The rivalry between us and those schools often reached fewer pitch, so much so that it was alleged that both sides had either gone to consult juju or were using the 6th and 7th Books of Moses to charm and hypnotise their opponents. The foundation stone of the imposing Winneba Methodist Middle Boys School building was laid in 1922 by Sir Gordon Guggisberg and Nana Ayirebi Acquah III,(popularly called Kow Sackey ( my paternal uncle). During our time, at the Middle School Leaving Certificate (MSLC) exams, held in 1966, we set an all-time record at WAEC by chalking 25 distinctions and 100% pass rate for both the A and B streams, plus our girls. We totalled about 75 pupils. While I went to the teacher training college in 1966 for a 4 year teacher training course, some of my mates went to secondary schools such as Accra Academy, Kaneshie Secondary Technical, Prempeh College, Sekondi College, GSTS, Fijai, Koforidua Sech Tech, among others. Earlier in 1965, I had passed the Common Entrance Exam and interview to GSTS but due to financial straits (the fee was (80 cedis), I could not proceed. Not even the late offer from Obuasi Sech Tech would give me a second chance, based upon my performance in the Common Entrance Exam. In 1970, I completed my teacher training and gained my 6 ‘O’ Levels through self tuition. In 1972, I had passed 3 A levels again through self tuition and by 1975, before entering Legon, I had 5 A levels under my belt. At Legon, I was offered the dreadful trio of Geography, Economics and Statistics. Some friends who were ahead of me tried to advise me to drop one of them and swap for a less taxing option but I stuck to my guns and sailed through FUE ( First University Exams) and all other university exams unscathed. I still remember those Unigov days when we fought battles such as the Battle of the Gate and we used to hold processions with branches and ‘icewater’ flowing and guys in ‘acapompo’ or academic gowns used to cause mayhem, openly doing the worst antics such as urinating in open view in broad daylight into the ponds or at midnight, some unfortunate guy at Okponglo or Legon Main Hall ( I was in M22 ) was caught unawares for rusticating or Enahoroing his Room (roommate) when he had brought in a girlfriend. Ponding was by being sentenced to symbolic lashes of being dipped in the pond many times, as pronounced by the Chief Priest or Chief Justice. I remember ‘charging’ at the Cafeteria with our coupons, with Black Moses or Tom Sawyer walking in half naked, and uncaringly proceeding to the front of the queue for his food. Sometimes, charging at the dining halls or trotro stations was by ‘corner theory’.

The Vikings from Sarbah Hall Annexes and Vandals from the Commonwealth Hall were the most daring noise makers. When a lady was passing through the main hall, there was a cacophony of catcalls and inexplicable frenzy among guys, shouting unprintable obscenities. Many ladies in deed dreaded venturing into the lion’s den. Those older male undergrads were the worst culprits as, despite their marital status, they went wayward, bringing in young secondary school girls dubbed Akotex. We were scared stiff to death as some daredevils threatened to blow up Legon Police Station and at another time, they snatched a gun from a policeman on guard at one of the banks on campus. That became a big issue and the police in armoured cars besieged us at the campus. In 1977, we had the famous march to Accra central to protest to visiting US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young. That incident would require another write-up as it was a harrowing and frightening experience. The police cornered us and hemmed us in near Accra Girls and with truncheons and wicker basket shields, they beat hell out of us. Some unlucky students were maimed by police batons and some of us had to jump high walls with thorn bushes and barbed wire. Many lost their shoes in the hullabaloo. Legon was closed down several weeks by the Acheampong regime. Our student leaders, with a penchant for flamboyant propaganda and public speeches, included Oduro Kwarteng, Blay Amihere, Amilcar Cabral, Kamasan, Kwasi Adu, among others. For us teachers, we had leaders like Badu and Toure. I recall the names of some of my famous lecturers, including:-


Prof George Benneh (Urbanisation/Human Geography)
Prof K.B. Dickson (Late) (Theory & Application of Geography )
Prof Gyasi (Cartography/Spatrial Analysis)
Prof Attoh (Geology)
Prof Berko (Transportation Geography)
Prof Agyapong (Soil Geography)
Prof Tetteh Addo (History of Geography)
Prof Benning (Human Geography)
A consultant from the Meteorological Dept, Mr Mensah
Prof Nabila


1. Dr Jones Ofori Atta (Introduction to Economics)
2. Prof Kobina Erbynn (Econometrics)
3. Mr Abban (Microeconomics)
4. Dr Brookes (Economics Theory)
5. Prof Jack Solomons (Econometrics)
6. Dr K.A. Tutu (Money & Banking)
7. Dr Baah Nuakoh (Economy of Ghana)
8. Dr Sam Doodoo (Public Finance)
9. Mr S.N.A Mensah (Late) Operations Research)
10. Dr Amissah-Arthur (Macroeconomics)
11. Dr Jebunni (Econometrics)
12. Dr Manu (Late) (International Trade)
13. Dr Akpah (Maths/Stats for Economists)


1. Prof Adu-Gyamfi (Introductory Mathematics)
2. Prof Osei (Statistics/Probability 1)
3. Dr Ghosh (Statistical Methods)
4. Prof S.I.K. Odoom (SIKO) (Probability 2)
5. Dr Bonney (Statistical Methods)
6. Dr Baffoe Bonnie
7. Dr Kojo Ewusi (ISSER)
8. Prof Okonjo (RIPS)
9. Prof (Vavta (RIPS)
10. Prof Oti Boateng

Below, please find some books I used which I recall. Does anyone of them ring a bell?


1. Kenkan Me Hwe
2. Abofra Onyasafo
3. Asoaso Onyasafo
4. Fie Na Skuul (1-7) – J.A. Annobil
5. Mfantse Amanbu Mu Bi – C.F.C Grant?
6. Fante Grammar of Function – C.F.C Grant?
7. Nana Bosompo
8. Prama
9. Fantse Kasafua Nkyekyemu
10. Nkwantabisa Newspaper


11. (a) Statistics – K.A. Yeoman
(b) New Nation Arithmetic Pry 1-6 (Nelson & Sons Ltd)
12. Longmans Arithmetic
13. A West African Mathematics (Awam) – J. Gibson & Maedell 1-4
14. Mathematics, English, History/Geography – Rulka Series
15. (a) Mathematics Series – Schaum Series – Spiegel
(b) Statictics – Tano Yamane
16. O Level Mathematics – Clarke
17. Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry – Walker & Miller
18. S & M (Samuel and Milikin) Arithmetic
19. O Level Maths – McCleish & Channon
20. Pure Maths 1 & 2 – J. Backhouse
21. Add Maths – Tranter
22. Entebbe Mathematics – Abbiw Jackeon et al

23. First Aid in English – McCiver
24. Students’ Companion
25. Living English Structure by Stannard Allen
26. Practical English Course Books 1-5 by Ogundipe & Tregido
27. Oxford Dictionary – S.N. Hornsby
28. Fundamental English – 1-4 – by Ballantyne
29. Practical English Usage – by Tregido
30. Common Mistakes in English – by Fitikides
31. English Gammar and Comprehension – by Eckersley & Eckersley
32. Oxford English Readers (O.U.P) (Shokolokobankoshie Series)
33. Oxford English Readers (O.U.P) (Abdul, Ngomba, Sam Dariso The Lorry Driver Series,
34. Oxford English Readers (O.U.P) (Nchanga and Enoma Series)
35. English – Fowler & Fowler
36. English Precis – C.F Lamb
37. Readers Digest (Blue Book) 1-4
38. Readers Digest (Red Book) 1-4
39. Creative Writing – by Arnold Warner
40. Talents for Tomorrow – Creative Writers Club
41. Challenge Magazine
42. Drum Magazine
43. Topics in West African Histroy – Adu Boahen
44. A History of Ghana – F. Agbedeka
45. Ancient History – F.K. Buah
46. Kwame Nkrumah of the New Africa
47. Makers of Civilisation 1 & 2
48. West African History – Basil Davidson/Ajayi
49. A short History of Ghana – F Ward
50. 1000 years of West African History – Ajayi, Dike, Davidson
51. Revolutionary years – Basil Davidson et al
52. English History – Southgate
53. British History – Elizabeth Underwood
54. Tropical Africa in World Histry – T.R Batten

55. History of Geography (Nature of Gepgraphy – R Hartshorne
56. Physical Geography in Diagrams – R Bunnett
57. Mao Reading – D.A Nimako
58. A Geography of Ghana – E.A Boateng
59. Geomorphology – Monkhouse
60. Physical Geography – Jarett
61. Physical Geography – Waters
62. British Isles – Stembridge
63. World Geogreaphy – Dudley Stamp
64. Geography Around the World – Stembridge
65. Foundations of Geography – by Preece & Wood
66. Climatic Geography – R. Strahler
67. Map Reading by Macpherson
68. Human & Physical – R Bunnett


69. Unesco Science for Schools – S. Adu Ampomah
70. Tropical Hygience for Schools – T.R Batten
71. Biology for the Certificate – Yemey Ewusi
72. Physics – By P Abbot
73. Health Science – F Daniels

74. Microeconomics – Ferguson
75. Economics – J Hanson
Microeconometrics – Anna Kousonyua
76. A Level Economics – A Lawal
77. Economics – Ord & Livingstone
78. Economics – J Harvey
79. O Level Economics without Fears – Owusu Law
Maths for Economists – M Chiang Asante
80. Economics – Cairneross
81. Economics – R. LIpsey
82. Economics – P Suelson
83. Child Study & Methodology – Udo Ema
84. Principles of Education – Farrant
85. History of Education in Ghana – Kwafo Penrose

86. Thirsty Nine Steps
87. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
88. African Child – Camera Laye
89. The Catechist – J Abroquah
90. The Blinkards – W.E.G Sekyi
91. Sister Killjoy – Ama Ata Aidoo
92. Man of the People
93. Animal Farm/1984 – George Orwell
94. The Dilemma of a Ghost – Efua Sutherland
95. Cry the Beloved Country – Peter Abraham
96. Mine Boy – Lenrie Peters
97. On Trial for my Country – Samakange
98. No Longer at Ease – Cyprian Ekwensi
99. Murder at Lobster Close
100. The Gab Boys – Cameroun Duodu
101. Narrow Path – Franeis Sehormey
102. Time Machine – H.G. Wells
103. Round the World 80 days – Jules Verne
104. The Oldman and the Medal – Ferdinald Oyomo
105. Season of Migration to the North
106. The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing
107. The Concubine
108. Edufa – Ama Ata Aidoo
109. African Writers Series – Heineman
110. Anthology of African Poetry – Vincent Senanu and Uli Beur
111. Levitation – Lobsom Rampa
112. The Mill on the Floss
113. Tom Browns Schooldays
114. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
115. David Copperfield – Chares Dickens
116. Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
117. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
118. Jane Eyre
119. Tale of Two Cities
120. The three Musketeers – Alexander Dumas
121. The Miser – Moliere
122. The Lion and the Jewel – Wole Soyinka
123. Androdes and the Lion – Bernard Shaw
124. Everyman – Oludumare
125. Perry Mason Series – The Case of
126. Agatha Christie Series
127. Hadley Chase Series
128. Sherlock Holmes Series
129. Enid Blyton – Secret 5x7 series
130. Marie Correlli Series (Ziska ,Wormwood)
131. Sheila Stuart Series (Adventures in the Valley)
132. Dostoyevsky – The Brothers Karamazov
133. Greek Mytholegies
134. Edgar Wallace, Allan Poe, P Haggard Cervantes (Don Duixote)
135. King Solomons Mines


136. The Bible
137. Symptic Gospels – Guy
138. Ancient Israel – Kwesi Dickson

139. Songs from Overseas
140. M.H.B. (Methodist Hymn Book)


141. Encyclopaedia Dritannica
142. Advanced Learners’ Dictionary
143. Oxford Atlas for Schools

144. Adekunle Aromoralan
145. Olaniyan
146. How People Govern Themselves – Karl Deutsch
147. Government = Price
148. Government – Ward
149. Harold Laski
150. Harold Lasswell