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20.03.2008 Feature Article

A. R. Harruna Attah writes... Letter to Kwami

A. R. Harruna Attah writes... Letter to Kwami
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Dear Kwami
Easter greetings
This year Easter seems to have come rather too early! Tomorrow is Good Friday and I suppose Monday would be Easter Monday. Palm Sunday was observed last week. I think some felicitations are therefore in order, so happy Easter!

But how can I expect you to be happy when the day commemorates a death?! But that was a death with a difference, the scriptures tell me, for it was followed immediately with a rise to Heaven. So it is as auspicious a day and a day of happiness as the day of the birth, all of which occurred some two thousand and more years ago somewhere in the Mid East.

As a Muslim, I can only write about Jesus Christ with much reverence and supplication. No room there for disrespect or irreverence. Would I drag the name of Christ into the mud of freedom of expression? Definitely NOT! And that is my religious upbringing and now personal choice...

I went to school in a predominantly Christian (Catholic) area though with substantial numbers of Muslims. Navrongo Secondary School in many ways helped shape my liberal ways. I remember the school chaplain, The Rev. Father Duncan. He was a Scotsman who taught us French and made us call him Mon Pere. I never failed to notice his piano playing because of the way he attacked the keys.

On assembly days, Mon Pere would jealously make his way to the keyboard. It was quite obvious that he was not an accomplished pianist but no one dared supplant Mon Pere! Later, an American Peace Corps volunteer, I think he was called Mr. Erhardt or something close to it, took over the playing of the piano and the difference was sharp and audible. He was a talented pianist. Still, with all of Mon Pere's percussiveness, I used to enjoy the Christian hymns he pounded away on Sunday evenings which wafted to us as we sat worshiping in our Mosque a little distance away.

The Headmaster, Mr. Robin Crawford, also Scotsman, later became a Deacon of the Anglican Church, so I grew under the tutelage of Christians, but my Islamic background also flourished. We had a subject called “Bible Knowledge”. Honest, I don't know what I made of that one. It vanished from my radar sometime in my senior years! Another Scotsman, Mr. Colin McDonald succeeded Mr. Crawford and he remained my headmaster until I left for university.

It was a very tolerant atmosphere where freedom of worship thrived to the benefit of all of us. Christian services used to be held in the assembly hall and later a small mosque was built to cater for us Muslims. I remember when it was built, my English teacher, the late David Ruddel, an Irishman with a very liberal mind decided the mosque was a little too stark and had to be branded. With a gallon of green oil paint, he called me to go with him to the mosque where we painted a green crescent and star. It was a very satisfying little act of worship as David Ruddel and myself stood back to admire our masterpiece.
The narration above spanned the period 1965-72

All the more painful for me that a school regulation of a religious nature could have led to the death of a student at Adisadel College in Cape Coast in the year 2008.

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