Black and White are the colors of Achimota school for a reason. The philosophy which gave birth to that great school was for all types of people, irrespective of sex, religious creed, beliefs, social class, ethnicity or religion, etc to live in harmony and get holistic education touching on the 3 Hs – The Head (academic), The Heart (Morals) and the Hand (vocational skills).
So “From Gambaga to Accra, from Wiawso to Keta ( the 4 Extreme cardinal points on Ghana’s map) we are brothers and our mother is the school” ( dear gender advocates, we said brother and mother, draw right?)
The black and white piano keys are needed to create harmonious all-around piano music because apart from the “Middle C”, all other keys on the keyboard need the Black keys to achieve harmony, as any basic piano student will know.
So Motown is the first-ever Co-Educational (mixed school) in Ghana, it is the first or one of the first Non-Denominational Schools ( not attached to any religion or sect) in Ghana.
When it comes to ACCEPTING and RESPECTING Ghanaian Tradition, I can boldly say no school in Ghana comes close to Achimota school.
If for nothing at all, when the great Ephraim Amu was pushed out of an institution for wearing Traditional Cloth, Achimota School welcomed him with open arms in a then-unprecedented and revolutionary move.
Again in the seven years, I spent in Achimota School, we had as part of our Founders’ day, a resplendent display of cultural dances by students, from all the major ethnic groups and cultures in Ghana. This happened and still happens EVERY YEAR and in our days every student was supposed to partake.
So in Forms 1, 2, and 3, I joined the Asantes, Form 4 I tried with the Gas, form five I flirted with one of the Northern groups (if my memory serves me right ), and in Lower and Upper 6, I did kobolo but only joined in the legendary war chant performance known as “Osomuei”
Yes. That is the beauty of Achimota. You are at liberty to join ANY ethnic group of your choice cos “from Gambaga to Accra, from Wiawso to Keta, we are brothers and our mother is the school” !!!
In terms of religion, we may have been the only school in Ghana in my days that had 3 Different Christian services, one each for Catholics, Protestants, and Anglicans, all held at the same time.
Muslims had a place to worship. And all other religions had a place near the Staff Common Room too to worship or stay during church services on Sunday
In my house, Lugard, we had a Zoroastrian, an Eckist, and a Buddhist. They lived happily with all of us. In the school as a whole, we had students who subscribed to so many other religions. No one had a problem with anyone. So again, religious tolerance in Achimota school is Unmatched.
I have taken time to give all this background info because of the topical issue of today, ie, the Dreadlocked Hair of Rastafarians who are being denied entry until they cut their hair and the slant that Achimota school is not accommodating or accepting tradition. That argument is just sheer irony.
Note, Achimota has NOT SAID they shouldn’t be Rastafarians. She says they should not wear Dreadlocked hair. And I’m playing the song of the Rasta group Morgan’s Heritage titled “You don’t have dread to be Rasta”, as I type, lol. Think about that.
The hair I see in the pictures that came with the story is Not fully “natural” hair.
It is Dreadlocks.
Dreadlocks do not grow “naturally”. They are hair that has been Tempered with. Chemicals are used many a time and there is locking (braiding) of the hair. Yes. That much effort to make it grow as long and look as locked as we have seen in the pictures.
So what is the difference between a fresh student (girl) sporting corn roll, curls, other braids, etc, or a boy sporting curls, and a Dreadlocked hair student? Are we by this saying other students should be allowed to sport braids, weaves, etc because it has nothing to do with academic life?
Every school has some liberty regarding its internal policies. Achimota has had various hair-do policies over decades. In my time the hair policy was changed. From 5 to Upper 6 girls were allowed to were braids. Later it was proscribed for all students mainly because the girls were now running away from school to nearby towns just to plaît their hair with well-known braiders instead of those available in school or when they were on general exeat or midterms
Another example; when the school realized at some point in time in the 90s that sneakers ( the Nikes, Pumas, Reeboks, etc) were becoming a source of challenge with students going to unimaginable lengths to buy these to show off, a policy was decided on. No Sneakers in school!!
So the exigencies of the times, as well as the particular situation of the institution (Achimota cannot be walled for instance) dictate and determine what policies the school adopts
Let’s not open Pandora’s box. We may have a time when a class of 40 students will have 30 different hairstyles, from Rosicrucian hairdo to different ATR hairstyles to locks to fetish hairdo spotting cowries and red ribbons, etc.
Yes, it may sound extreme but trust me, students are students. At least in my time, I know many guys who would have dreamt of the most unimaginable hairstyle and claimed it is in following their new religion.
Look, the school has its policy. Luckily there are other schools like Accra Academy that say they accept Dreadlocks, fine. If Achimota’s policies are repugnant to you, kindly go where you will be accepted.
let’s note that when you enter an institution you immediately cede a lot of rights.
In school, your right to freedom of movement is seriously infringed upon. Your right to dress as you want is infringed upon cos you are given a dress code and policy. Your right to even see your own parents is seriously impeded.
Same with the police, army, law practice, etc.
Whilst the liberal me says the Dreadlocked kid should be accepted, the conservative and practical me tells me it is a potentially bad precedent. But I sway more towards that voice that says they should not be allowed to enroll with that hairdo
And those two conflicting convictions remind me of our school’s symbol, the black and white piano keys cohabiting peacefully and producing a wonderful melody.
“Ut Omnes Unum Sint”. That All May Be One