A few days ago, some of my secondary or high school classmates drew the attention of our Kumasi Academy Class of 1976 to the need to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our admission and entrance to Kumasi Academy (KUMACA) in September 1971. (1976 was the year of our graduation from the school).
I salute and congratulate all my classmates on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of our admission and entrance to Kumasi Academy in 1971. May all of us live long and in good health, with God on our side and we on God’s side!
For me, it almost didn’t happen. I have mixed feelings about my memories of the beginnings of what would become the Kumasi Academy Class of 1976. From July 1971 when I received my admission letter, to the end of September 1971 when Form 1 students reported to the school, I was happy, anxious, disappointed, and hopeful, in that order. I thank God and all those who helped me during that challenging period and beyond.
What the overwhelming majority of my classmates may not know or remember is that if group photographs of the Kumasi Academy Class of 1976 were taken during the first three weeks of classes, from the end of September to mid October 1971, I was not in any of them. I enrolled in the class for the first time on the second day of the fourth week of classes.
And so if you asked me to describe my relationship with the Kumasi Academy Class of 1976 in one word, I would say, “almost.” I almost did not become a member of the class. If you asked me to describe it with a phrase, I would say, “the last but not the least.” I was probably the last student to join the class in the first term in 1971, but not the least. And if you asked me to describe it in one sentence, I would say, “it is not too late to work hard and trust in God to help overcome obstacles.”
Like many of my classmates, I was very happy and excited when I received my Kumasi Academy admission letter in July 1971 because the school was my first choice. However, my happiness and excitement dimmed when the 31st July, 1971 deadline to pay the entrance fee deposit of NȻ15.00 (fifteen new cedis) passed and I had not paid; and then shattered when the 23rd September, 1971 date for new students to report to school passed and I could not join the class. It seemed my chances of being a member of the class were doomed.
However, by the grace of God, all hope was not lost. Mr. Emmanuel Osei Kofi was the headmaster. I went to see him in his office with someone who knew him, I believe on Friday of the third week. I pleaded with him to allow me to report and join the class even though the admission process had long closed. He asked if I was offered admission and I said yes. He collected my admission letter and checked it against the original list of those who were offered admission and my name was on the list. He told me that three weeks had already passed and asked if I would be able to catch up, and I said yes. Then he told me to go and pay the entrance fee deposit and report to school as soon as possible since I was already behind. I have often wondered how things might have turned out for me if the headmaster had rejected my last-minute plea to enroll in the Class of 1976.
When I reported to school a few days later, I had missed 16 days of classes. I knew I had to catch up. That meant I had to reassess my priorities. One thing I gave up was football or soccer. In my elementary school days, I was a soccer player playing juvenile or colts football. There were two categories of colts teams or clubs based on height (not age): players who were no taller than 4 feet 11 inches played in one league, and those above 4 feet 11 inches, but no taller than 5 feet 3 inches, played in another league. I played with 4 feet 11- inch soccer teams at Adum, Asafo Ahmadiyya, and Manhyia parks in Kumasi.
In my first two years at Kumasi Academy, I did not play any soccer at all. It was in Form 3 that I played in the Inter-Houses soccer tournament for Boakye Dankwah House (Bodank). I do not recall playing any competitive soccer after that. In retrospect, some people may think it is debatable whether giving up a potentially budding career in football or soccer entirely for academics was the best decision.
I focused on my studies. I assumed, and correctly so, that all students accepted to KUMACA were brilliant and well-prepared. Those assumptions provided additional motivation for me to excel and catch up. I decided that the best way was to study harder and draw closer to God for His guidance and wisdom. Drawing closer to God at a relatively young age shaped my Christian life positively and freed me from unhelpful thoughts, deeds, and lifestyles that hindered some students’ ability to focus and do their best. I seized every opportunity to go “mining.” “Mining” was the term used when a student studied deep into the night or till early hours of the morning. This was discouraged by the school authorities.
Form 1 students were randomly assigned to one of three classes: Form 1A, Form 1B, or Form 1C. I was assigned to Form 1B. By the grace of God, I was able to catch up. At the end of the first term, I placed 2nd out of 41 students in Form 1B. That meant there was one more student I needed to catch up with in my class. In the second term, I accomplished that goal - I was 1st in the class. Towards the end of the third term, I was awarded Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board Scholarship. I believe this is the first time in about 50 years that my classmates and others are finding out about this information. In my final year, the student body elected me as the School Prefect or Senior Prefect. (Kumasi Academy set me on an academic path that would ultimately lead me to graduate from five universities in the U.S. with five degrees, including two master’s and two doctoral degrees).
Half a century is a long time in the land of the living. I have resisted my natural tendency to keep certain personal information private, and shared this snapshot of my life’s journey in the hopes that it might encourage or inspire someone who is facing challenges to never give up, but to work harder and trust God to change things for the better. Therefore, no matter how challenging, difficult or disadvantaged our current personal circumstances may be, it is not too late to overcome with determination, perseverance, and God’s help. To God be the Glory!
As a Christian and life-long Methodist, I cannot help but praise and thank God on this occasion by reflecting on the words in the selected stanzas of Charles Wesley’s hymn often sung at Methodist Annual Conferences, “And Are We Yet Alive.”
|1.And are we yet alive, And see each other's face? Glory and thanks to Jesus give For His almighty grace!||3. What troubles have we seen, What mighty conflicts past, Fightings without and fears within Since we assembled last!||5. Let us take up the cross Till we the crown obtain, And gladly reckon all things loss So we may Jesus gain|
Happy 50th Anniversary to all my fellow members of the Kumasi Academy Class of 1976 on the occasion of our admission and entrance to Kumasi Academy in September 1971. Long Live Akunini! Long Live KUMACA! May God bless all of us in the name of Jesus.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.