Prof Kwesi Yankah: Showdown in Asylum Down; Lessons from my Middle School



The launch of my book yesterday gives me the freedom to sigh, but also to steal from its contents without looking over my shoulders. Yet even while the launch was going on, we were missing a few notables who were attending meetings in ‘Asylum Down,’ and biting their primary school fingernails in search of solutions to party dilemmas.

But which ruling party has never carried thorny dilemmas? Should the issue of who qualifies to be shortlisted as flagbearer in a party spin a crisis? Surprisingly this has lingered awhile, triggering the type of headlines that remind us of the legendary Mohammed Ali those days. It should now be possible for hip hop musicians and rappers to even coin phrases like ‘Show Down in Asylum Down.’

So for once, we are still debating who was First, Second, Third, last and so on in a super delegates congress. In our days, to be last in school was dreadful. Woawe, they would tease. But the teacher would merely announce the results, and allow the pupils to freely apply ‘Last’ to whom it may concern.

To be first was great, and rare. To be second or third put you in the running for excellence without being declared a wizard. You could of course be an assistant wizard of sorts and still attract cheerleaders. In our middle school, however, our teacher’s logic would have completely overruled the current controversy which is paralyzing the ruling party. Read page 34/35 of my book just launched, The Pen at Risk. Without looking over my shoulder, let me copy:

“At school, our favourite teacher was one cane-happy gentleman in his forties; slim, stern, and tough-talking. He was so fearsome when he was sighted from a distance coming to class, that a typical alert signal would be sounded to ensure all talking ceased before terror arrived. The signal was although, although, although, which simply meant ‘oreba ooo, oreba oo’ ‘he is coming.’ That indeed became a signature alarm; it simply meant danger was looming. ‘Although’ had an additional uniqueness. His results declaration after exams defied laid down practice.

He would sometimes declare the best student in the exams as First, and the next best as Third (not Second). Second would have meant the student’s raw marks were fairly close to the First. If the numerical gap was not marginal (but extremely wide), no student had any business boasting he was Second. His position was Third which would leave him whipping his fingers and aiming higher next time. In three successive terms I spent at Kwabena Nkrumah school, no pupil was ever Second at Form Three. We were indeed lucky anybody at all was First in the scheme of Although.”

Which school was this? It was Kwabena Nkrumah Middle School in Akim Achiase, near Oda.

NPP, if you cannot locate the place, Ace Ankomah will take you there. That’s where he comes from.

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