Embracing diversity as learning opportunities


… this is a speech by Akora Dr. Lydia Mosi, Guest Speaker for the 95th Speech and Prize Giving day of Achimota School delivered on November 5, 2022.

‘They say knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.’ This is my summation of the Achimotan educational excellence!

In January 1995, my colleagues and I made our way to Achimota School. Some came all the way from Bawku representing the northernmost point of Ghana. Some of us made the short trip from our homes in Accra. Some came from Keta in the east and yet still others from Dixcove representing the western enclave. We came for a transformational, unique, and once in a lifetime secondary education experience that has, for many of us, set the tone and the direction of our lives. Twenty-five years on, enduring friendships and a large family have been created. In the last week of our time here, we were inducted into the larger OAA family and sent off as living waters to a thirsty land.

My brothers and sisters of the 1997-year group, it is indeed an honor to represent you as the guest speaker at this year’s Speech and Price giving day, under the theme “95 Years of Excellence: The Past, Present and Future”. No doubt this is a broad topic which can be tackled in many ways to showcase our independent and holistic achievements in Ghana and beyond. I would like to invite you in the next few minutes to appreciate how this topic resonates with me and I dare say many of my fellow Akoras.

In her first century of existence, Achimota School lit the flame of educational reforms across the Gold Coast, and greatly contributed to the development of education, culture and life in present day Ghana. The School served as the foundation for the University College of the Gold Coast, which is now the University of Ghana, and the Engineering School at Achimota School served as the foundation for the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). The establishment of the National Symphony Orchestra and the University of Education, Winneba’s department of music and performing arts also have their origins in Achimota School. These achievements coupled with the reforms that emphasized the use of one’s hands for agricultural, technical, and vocational work and the excellent standard of teaching and learning in every area of education formed the basis of Achimota School’s past glory, its present potential and hopefully its future re-emergence as the standard of Secondary school education not only in Ghana but in the world.

For the rest of this speech, I will reflect on the theme by relying entirely on the words of one of our founding fathers, Rev. Alec. G. Fraser, who was also the first Principal of the School. In composing our popular School Song, from Gambaga to Accra, Rev. Fraser created  for our guidance, a set of ideals expected of an Achimotan. This distinct set of rules wrapped up in music truly uplifting, transcends time and space, and  remains applicable in the present and pertinent for the future.

From Gambaga to Accra, from Wiawso to Keta

Rev. Fraser is calling us to embrace diversity; practise inclusivity and be aware of our common experiences as members of this community, as Ghanaians, as Africans and indeed as global citizens. In Achimota School, we are taught not to discount our differences but to celebrate them. We are taught to show up with confidence and pride in who we are and to appreciate and accept the uniqueness of everyone, every culture and every system we are blessed to experience.

Diversity makes us learn new things from different cultures and backgrounds and helps us appreciate how uniquely talented  every individual  is. The girl from Zebilla joins in  learning the Kpalongo dance with her friends from Ga Mashie, twirling to the sound of the drums on founders day.  The boy from Berekum teams up with friends from Jasikan, Shamaa and Ejura and races a swift 39 secs in a 4 X 100 meter race.

My dear students, when you are out of School and into the real world, some of you will have opportunity to live in far away corners of the globe where you will be required to thrive and to contribute to cultures and societies completely different from your own. Differences in race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political preferences, and other ideologies become interesting learning opportunities.

I remember the first day I was dropped of at Slessor house by my mother. Here I was standing in front of this one story building with several ladies staring down at us from the shuttered windows welcoming us with eagerness. Having grown up in a house full of boys, I turned to my mother and burst out crying “how am I going to survive with all these ladies in the same space”. She laughed at first and reminded me that there are young men here too just like my brothers and I’ll see them in the classroom and at dinner, I’d get by just fine. Some of these ladies from different parts of Ghana and even Lebanon have gone on to become my very close friends whom I’ve learnt a lot from and others my sisters who are in my personal boardroom.

We are brothers and our mother is our school

The founding fathers capitalized on the diversity of Ghanaians and promoted oneness with the aim of making us appreciate the importance of unity.  Ethnicity, culture, gender and, socio-economic status are not factors for admission. Achimota School provides a levelled experience, uniting, shielding, guiding, and equipping her sons and daughters for a Ghana that must be increasingly integrated and a world that is increasingly becoming a global village.

The unity instilled in us, her sons, and daughters, is forged, honed and jealously guarded by our common experiences and the values passed on during our time here. These values also referred to as the Achimota ideals become our identity and continue to draw us not only to each other but also to our school to undertake various legacy projects.

My grand aunt Akora Cecelia Dsani of the ‘63 year group is someone I like to refer to as an enigma. At first meeting Cecelia seems rather unassuming, like another older citizen who never had the opportunity to experience the bourgeoisie life style that some may  seem underscore a good life. Wait till you hear her articulate in the Queen’s (now the Kings) English, and explain complex  financial concepts in banking to you as a former manager at the bank of Ghana, then this plain- looking, scarf wearing, unsophisticated woman becomes quite the unexpected product of Achimota, shining in all her glory. Whenever I see the camaraderie between her mates either at funerals, Akora meetings or now on their smart phones on the popular WhatsApp platform, I feel previledged that my mates and I would be the same 30 years from now. We evolve and grow together into this network which is envied by all.


She will guide us all and each, so to learn that we may teach So to subjugate ourselves that we may rule

Independence, self-discipline, cooperation and the hunger for knowledge is what Achimota imparts in us. Rising bell, prep time, no walking on lawns, clean-up-campaigns, working force, walking heads up and chest out, athletics, swimming, the erstwhile school farm working  trips, scripture union, big inspection, the ever popular records night followed by “gating”, debate competitions, plays like the Blinkards, the famed festival of 9 lessons and carols, school feast and founders’ day drama groups, are all stellar examples of the Achimota school’s education and traditions that become part of our lives.  We in turn teach our kids, and by our lifestyles, become role models for our peers, communities and country.

We are taught to be servant-first leaders. We are taught to focus primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities we have been blessed to lead. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” we are taught to be different; to share power, put the needs of others before ours and  help others develop and perform at their fullest potential.

The ninoes song captures it beautiful by saying “we are called kenkey wrappers” and “empty sardine tins”, meaning when we are enrolled as freshers, we are emptied of all our preformed dispositions and prejudices and the same song continues to say “but we dont mind, because 5 years (3 now with SHS) hence, we shall be blessed men”, and this goes to state how our training is evident in our adaptable lifestyle such that we are capable of working everywhere, exhibiting good leadership practice.

My big brother Akora Michael Mosi of the ‘92 year group was passionate about the discipline which being an Achimotan cadet of the rank Regiment Seargent Major instilled. It is therefore no surprise that he finds himself as a Commander in the US Navy. I recently visited him on the base where he works as the executive officer (XO), in charge of over 1000 personnel, and what struck me as we went on tour is that he greeted everyone we met by first name and it didn’t end there. He went on to ask follow up questions about things that are indicative of a personal connection which transcends mere acquaintance. This is an example of the servant leadership and subjugation that Achimota instills in us to rule with admiration.

When our books are laid aside, and we scatter far and wide. We remember with affection all we gained. How we learned to take our share in the life and labour there. Where the men of whom we are proudest of were trained.

What will be your story  as young Akoras ? How will you take advantage of the privilege that you have as a product of this great school? What will be your contribution to your family, your community of friends, the Ghanaian society and the world at large? Will you be a person who passed through Achimota or one who remained transformed by your Achimota experience ? Will you take advantage of the friendship and networks you are forming and have formed not only with your mates but with their siblings who are also Akoras? Will you use this platform not only to be interested but also to be capable of providing solutions to the myriad of problems we have as a country? The Achimota of the future depend on your responses to these questions.

In Luke 12: 48, the Good news version of the bible reads, “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.” Membership of this great community of us is a mandate to give back our time and resources whilst promoting the ideals on which Achimota School was founded.

True to the theme of this event, the ‘97 year groups present and future mandate began with the search for a project to mark our 25th anniversary of leaving Achimota School. A project that will make a significant difference in the format of  teaching and learning. We eventually selected a project that is futuristic, ambitious, progressive, and relevant in the present.  We embarked on “making Achimota School an ICT centre of Excellence”

The first phase consisted of installing Fiber Optic Network across the compound.  We have today networked the entire school with 48 core fiber optic cable connecting all administrative, academic, residential, and recreational buildings in the school.  Specifically, we have installed 5.3 Kilometers of Fiber cables. We have provided a router at the server room. We have installed seven (7) switches, one each at the New Assembly Hall, Server Room, Admin Block, OAA Tullow Science Block, Library, OAA Club House and the Teacher’s Common Room. We have installed a 42 U-Rack at the Server Room,  two 9 U-Racks at the Admin Block and the Library and a 4 U-Rack at the New Assembly Hall.

The following facilities are connected to the fibre network. The Administration Block, the Staff Common Room, the Library / e-library, All the Science Labs, the OAA-Tullow Science block, all ICT Labs, all classroom blocks, the Aggrey Chapel, old and new Assembly Halls, Dining Halls on both east and west compounds and all houses on both east and west compounds, the OAA Secretariat and the residences of the senior management of the school. We have by this, provided the infrastructure for the transmission and distribution of high-speed internet service at every location where it is needed.

In addition to transmitting and distributing high speed internet service, the fiber network can also be used for Computer networking, internal and external telephone system, installation and operation of security devices and decorative lighting among others. Our year group is currently providing the school with 50megabytep per second internet service.

In the second phase of the project, we helped the school launch the first phase of its website achimota.edu.gh. We supported the school to subscribe to Google Workspace for Education which gives them tools to support teaching and learning. These include Google Classroom, Google Meet, Google Docs, Google forms and Google chat. This platform enhances  collaboration, streamlines instruction, keeps the learning environment secure and provides great storage option for files and lesson notes.

The third and final phase equipped teachers with the knowledge and skills required to use the new technologies being introduced. OAA 1997-year group colleagues who are in education and are conversant with Google workspace for education have been selflessly providing training to teachers through the various modules for the past one year.

The Google Classroom and capacity development for teachers was a project which our guest of Honour, Akora Dr. Mrs Mary Ashun began during the pandemic. She did not only welcome the idea of us taking the project over, expanding and implementing it but she also served as our project patron. Dr. Mrs Mary Ashun, on behalf of my colleagues , thank you for your unwavering support.

Our 25th anniversary milestone project is in line with further improving on the Achimotan experience.  Our immediate seniors, the 1996 year group refurbished the school farm. Our fellow 1998 year group will be renovating the forecourt of the Administration block. Every year, several year groups celebrate milestones such as 10th, 25th, 40th and 50th anniversaries and each milestone celebrant would undertake on a legacy project which are all capital intensive initiatives to give back to the school. Whilst the apparent headache of maintaing these these assets is glaring, the act of giving back to a community that has given us so much is so fulfilling.

As we work towards the centenary celebrations of our school, it may be time to expand the tradition of giving back beyond the school to the surrounding communities. The OAA can designate one of the anniversary milestones to initiatives outside the school. This way, the  future impact of Achimotan excellence and that of the Akora’s will be beneficial even to those who have not had the good fortune to attend our wonderful Alma mata. Perhaps, this is but one of the ways we can begin to carve out for our school a second century future that remains as relevant to Ghana and the world as the first.

Thank you all for your kind attention an particular thanks to the wonderful team work exhibited by the ’97 year group speech and prize giving day committee. And to all the future AKORAs, “what will be your story of excellence 25 years hence”?

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