I recall my days in Senior High School (SHS) with lots of memorable and refreshing moments. As students, we engaged in so many activities, both curricula and extra-curricula.
One of the most important activities treated with all seriousness aside sports was the “General Cleaning Competition.” The typical “dadabi” school boys and girls may not relate this daunting but worthwhile exercise.
This exercise is a regular inspection of dormitories and assigned plots by a delegation from the school’s management usually led by the senior housemaster, senior housemistress, respective housemasters and mistresses, and also some selected teachers on the first Saturday of every month.
Marks are then collated and a winner is declared by the senior housemaster the following Monday at general assembly. The house with the least marks becomes an object of scorn and derision for the month and many a time, served a sizeable portion of grass to clear as a form of punishment.
Members of the winning house become the superheroes and heroines for the month. There is usually a very strong collaboration between juniors (freshers) and seniors (final year students), as the day of general cleaning beckons.
Ladies are usually allowed to visit the boys’ dormitory and vice versa for the males, in a white attire. The males, especially the seniors, most often, use the opportunity to show their girlfriends their beds with neatly laid white sheets. Even those who don’t have bedsheets are compelled to borrow from their friends to ensure uniformity.
The atmosphere during the inspection period is like the euphoria of a Champions league finals greeted by angelic appearances of students and staff. An obscene epithet I’ve observed during the course of cleaning dormitories is the huge pile of waste, countless number of cockroaches, mice, scorpions, and other rodents. This is pointer to the fact that no meaningful cleaning is ever done until its time for general cleaning.
General cleaning day is indeed a sight to behold. Regurgitating the general cleaning experience in Ghana’s context brings to bear numerous unraveled but profound truths about our political status quo.
Fellow Ghanaians, my brothers and sisters, my dear friends and comrades, my eyes have seen a great irony!
1. The inspection team no longer awards marks for the house/dormitory with the cleanest standards. Rather, it award marks for enormous filth, prevalence of countless cockroaches, huge pile of waste etc.
2. The respective houses/dormitories no longer strive to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness but rather filth.
3. The inspection team is called for inspection without a prior general cleaning activity.
4. The inspection team is no longer revered by the house captains and members of respective houses.
5. The scheme for awards is no longer directly controlled and managed by the inspection team but by House captains and members.
Considering Ghana’s modus operandi of her body politics, a paradigm shift vis-a-vis her democracy is critical, otherwise, the purpose of her most important democratic exercise may be defeated.
The writer, Richmond Anane-Simon is a Change Activist.