Apartheid South Africa, under P. W. Botha – the brutal racist – built one of the most modern international airports for the times, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Apartheid built a medical system which produced pioneer heart surgery. Apartheid had leading universities built.
Apartheid South Africa built a hypermodern network of sports stadiums that gave the foundational networks for staging the soccer, rugby and cricket World Cups.
Therefore, what do the intellectually indigent Ghanaians who say it is alright for Ghanaian school children to be made to sing praises to Gordon Guggisberg say Black South Africans should do to P.W. Botha then?
Declare him God and worship him? The main argument of these pro-Guggisberg elements is that the man built Achimota School (with tax papers money!!) and built Korle Bu Hospital (also with taxpayers money!!)
So what? He also presided over a Government that institutionalised racism in Ghana.
In his day, Ghanaian Africans were not allowed into Ridge and Cantonments after 5 pm. Dr Kwegyir Aggrey (himself!!), was not allowed by the existing rules to live on the Achimota School campus. It had to take Fraser’s intervention to get Dr Kwegyir Aggrey of Africa a place.
Aggrey of Africa. A Scholars Scholar who in the 1920s had already bagged a PhD. He was rejected from the Achimota School campus because he was black.
The School he helped build would not have him live on the campus. Because he was black.
Gordon Guggisberg was Governor then. Let that sink in.
The trade policy Gordon Guggisberg was loyal to and implemented was designed to create a Robinson Crusoe Society! To embed us in the Periphery, so that we could be an eternal source of sustenance (primary unprocessed commodities – gold, cocoa, diamonds, bauxite, etc) to the Metropole.
Fundamentally, Guggisberg did not develop a modern economy in Ghana. He bequeathed this retarded commodity-dependent economic arrangement to us.
Therefore, who are these indigent Ghanaian intellectuals that present Guggisberg as a hero in 2023? And get students of Achimota School to sing praises to him? For what exactly?
I am a former Deputy Senior Prefect of Achimota School. I studied there for seven years of my life. So did my brother and my mother before us. My cousin Round, the architect, was Senior Prefect.
By any reasonable criteria, therefore, I qualify to ask the question and to shake this table. As a student, I was compelled to chant praises to the racist colonial Governor during the rendering of the Boys Chorus, as the tradition is called by Achimotans. I could only protest than missing out on the mention of his name.
Now, I can ask: for what really do we seek to confer secular canonisation on a racist colonial Governor? And then go to church and demonise our ancestors in song, for worshipping fetishes?
This must be why my friend and comrade, Akosua Bame cannot stop talking about the need for a Mindset Revolution in Africa!!
I am not for renaming boarding houses, as sometimes history is best captured in its cold brutality. But in 2023, what kind of African do we groom when we teach teenagers to hail a fundamentally racist colonial Governor?
One, whose direct descendants never apologised for his callous misdeeds? I call on Achimota School and all Achimotans to purge the Boys Chorus of Gordon Guggisberg’s stained name. And then go further and systematically decolonise the curriculum.
I truly wish I had encountered Walter Rodney, Samir Amin and others at Achimota School. Not just Coleridge’s poetry – though I learned from the latter too.
Make these changes to the colonial legacy our educational system is. Tear it down. Let us have an open debate about this.
The time come!!
26th March 2023.
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