I belonged to the Casely Hayford Hall, the only male hall, of the University of Cape. I'm, therefore, a proud Casfordian. There are times I even consider myself a born Casfordian, and also joke with my friends that I am genetically a Casfordian. Again, I see myself as a gentleman, by virtue of belonging to the great hall.
As gentlemen, we treat our wives, royals of Adehye hall, with care and tenderness. What is more, as Casfordians, we pride ourselves as the only superpowers in Ghana, and as a matter of fact, UCC for those of us in Casford is the acronym of University of Commendable Casfordians.
This is because we believe that Casford is the only university within a university, and in consequence independent of the University of Cape Coast. It is, therefore, curious to note that Casfordians respect the Supremo (the religio-political leader) of Casford more than the VC (who is disparagingly called Village Champion) of the university.
Somehow, as a Casfordian, my loyalty was first directed to the Supremo before the VC of the university. Again, as a Casfordian, I liked the rivalry between Casford and the Atlantic hall (known to Casfordians as Fishmongers). But the kind of rivalry behind these two halls that I admired was in the area of sports and academics, not in showing muscles (useless fighting).
When I entered the University of Cape Coast in 2004, the only time Casford celebrated hall week was in 2004/2005 academic year. The teaser for the hall week was 'Ehyem Simple' to wit 'It is inside in a simple way.' As to what was inside, it is only the bona fide of Casfordians to tell the rest of the university community. Elsewhere at the University of Ghana, the rivalry obtains between Commonwealth (popularly known as Vandals) and Sarbah hall. At the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), it is between the University Hall (popularly known as Katanga) and Unity Hall. The rivalries among these halls bring life to university activities.
As I said, while I cherish these rivalries, some miscreants have hidden behind these rivalries to tarnish the image of gentlemen like Casfordians. From 2004/2005, it was only in 2014/2015 academic that Casford celebrated hall week, because for all this while, some uncouth students had run amok with stupidity to dent the image of all Casfordians. The recent clash between Katangese and residents of Unity hall (also called continentals) is very unfortunate, as it reflects the tendency of lack of discipline among some students. The challenge, as I see is that most of these wayward students, never anticipated the kind of freedom in the university. So, once they get to the university, they are charged to show their true identity - depraved as it is.
In 2008, there was a terrible clash between Casfordians and residents of ATL that nearly claimed lives of students. Following that incident, Casfordians, on April 2, 2008, were thrown out of the hall, while it was still raining, hence giving that event the name, 'Casford Refugee Day.' When I was a TA at the UCC, the day had been institutionalised and commemorated annually. Aside the unnecessary show of brawl, there is some primitive practice such as Animalia and Lowering the Standard among Casfordians and V'Mate respectively. As the name Animalia suggests, Casfordians are supposed to go nude at some point when they are under the influence of 'charging'. Vandals also do the same when they are under the spirit of Father Bacchus. What most of these ‘gentlemen’ fail to know is that going nude undermines their masculinity, and questions their intelligence as university students.
Aside nudity, Casfordians are given to drinking of alcohol, known among them as 'Water Works,' while ATL is given to the smoking of marijuana, aka ntampe, thus, giving the name, 'Fire Works.' ATL, Conti, and Vandals are also known for singing profane songs. These halls have the penchant for converting every known song, including gospel to profanity. Their avowed aim, as they tell when pouring libation, is to defame vagina (or womanhood). In 2004/2005 academic year, my curiosity drove me to witness the PAWA (Profane Association of West Africa) Night of the ATL, and I could not believe the force of satanism at this gathering of students. The free flow of profanity at this social gathering has reified the suspicion among some students that there are some spirits behind the activities of members of PAWA. That members of PAWA go to the sea at odd hours to rehearse has given some level of credence to the suspicion that connects their activities to the metaphysical world.
Aside internal rivalries, there are inter-university hall alliances that exacerbate rivalries beyond individual universities. So, there is an alliance among Casely Hayford hall (of the UCC), Sarbah Hall of (the UG), and University Hall (Katanga of the KNUST). The anti-thesis of this alliance is the tripartite unity among Vandals of UG, Mariners (ATL) of UCC, and Unity hall (KNUST). The strength of these inter-university rivalries is very much expressed during hall week celebrations. For example, when Katangeese are celebrating their hall week, Casfordians would go all the way to Kumasi to provide them with morale support. The opposite is also true. In the past, sports and academic activities were organized to concretise the alliances.
Over the years, the rivalries among these halls have found expression in out-of-campus social gatherings. For example, about three years ago, at the Trade Fair, Casford and Vandals clashed at the Joy Fm Old Skuul Reunion. It was bloody. Some of us who had gone there to pay homage to the Supremo, clad in our red attire had to go bear chested in order to escape attacks from other routing students.
Over the years, the university authorities of the first three public universities have thought of converting some of these male halls into mixed halls to dilute and suppress their powers. But that move has, rightly, been resisted. Making Casford a mixed wall, for example, will not solve the challenge of rowdiness among students. This is because ATL hall, which is also noted for fomenting troubles, is a mixed hall. Mensah Sarbah is also a mixed hall. What I think needs to be done is for the leadership of the rivalry halls to redefine their mission as students.
Sometime in 2008, as the chief advisor to the editorial board of Casford's magazine, I had the chance of interviewing Kwame Alorvi, and he was still proud as a Casfordian, except to express concerns that the purpose of student activism, in his view, has taken a negative twist. Kwame Alorvi who was one time the leader of the Casford, the great hall, recounted how he was able to pursue student activism to bring sanity to tertiary education in Ghana. Indeed, when he was the president of the National Association of Graduate Teachers, his mettle as a leader was on public display. His leadership at the student level prepared him for the leadership of NAGRAT.
The alumi associations of these halls should make it a practice of visiting their erstwhile halls to speak to the current cadre of student leadership. They should contribute in redefining the direction of student activism. Also, as the University of Cape Coast has been doing, de facto leadership of these halls should be held accountable for the actions of other students of the hall. This is because, as I said in the beginning, most students respect the de facto leadership of the hall than even the VC.
For us, as Casfordians, we bow whenever the Supremo was to deliver his speech. The kind of authority that the Supremo commands should make him responsible for all actions of recalcitrant members of the hall. Also, the university should formalise the activities of the de facto leaders, because they command such an overwhelming influence in the university. If the university legalises the activities of the Supremos, they would then be held responsible for their actions. Finally, the university should not leave security to chance. Security intelligence should be beefed up to pre-empt any of residents of thee halls from causing mayhem. I think that if we are able to put some of the above measures in place, sanity would be brought to our university campuses. Satyagraha!
Charles Prempeh ( [email protected] ) Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Uganda