ACHIMOTA AND ITS IMPACT ON THE CREATIVE ARTS

ACHIMOTA AND ITS IMPACT ON THE CREATIVE ARTS

Nat-Amartefio copy

By: Nat Nuno-Amarteifio

Since its founding, Achimota College and School as it was named at the time of its inception, has had a disproportionate influence on the creative arts in Ghana. In every area of creativity, music, painting, sculpture, literature and theatre, Achimota’s influence has been deep and consistent. This paper seeks to explore the reasons for this phenomenon and to identify some of the main reasons that made these achievements possible. We shall also examine the contemporary nature of this impact.

Colonialism begun in Africa in the final decades of the 19th century when Europeans scrambled for terrritories and took political and military possession of its lands. In India, British rule lasted over two centuries. In Africa colonialism was expected to last at least as long until Africans absorbed the lessons of pax britanica and learnt to govern themselves. The 1920s was a time of unbridled and unapologetic racism. Accra, the ramshackle capital of the colonized Gold Coast was recently segregated along racial lines. The goal was political but the official reason was medical. The policy was justified as a necessary measure to save European lives from African diseases by keeping the two races apart, especially at night. It was generally believed by European medical specialists that Africans were immune to the effects of malaria but that their blood was full of the parasites. The evening was when mosquitoes fed on human blood and transported their contaminated cargo across racial lines to infect Europeans.

On January 28, 1927, the Prince of Wales College and School, Achimota was formally opened. The campus upon which the school stood was segregated. No Africans could stay there overnight without official sanction. It took the personal intervention of the Governor to obtain permission for Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey, nominated for assistant headmaster, to spend a night under the same roof as Rev. Alexander G. Fraser, the headmaster.

African culture was regarded by many Europeans as backward and retrogressive and the African middle class bought into this perception. In 1918, Kobina Sekyi a Cape Coast author and social critic wrote a play called the Blinkards. It was a devastating satire on the nascent African middle class of the 19th century. Their social ambition was to strip away all identification with their cultural roots and to present themselves as English gentry. It was a cartoonish portrait of delusion and deliberate self-deception. The play warned of the consequences when a society loses its moral compass.

Against the background of these perceptions, the three principal founders had every reason to be proud of their achievement. For one thing, in the tight colonial world they inhabited, they had been accorded the rare honour of a royal visit. The heir to the throne, Edward, the Prince of Wales was himself present to bestow his name on the institution. The three men, Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg, a brigadier in the British Army and Governor of the Gold Coast (1919-1927),   Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey, a native of the Gold Coast, born in Anomabu and educated as a cleric in America, and the Reverend Alexander G. Fraser, a Scotsman and professional educationist were loyal to the crown. They belonged to the liberal and progressive wings of European politics and fervently believed that the key to African emancipation was education. The institution they created was designed to justify their hopes and ambitions. They saw the visit as the ultimate endorsement of their enlightened beliefs. They gave birth to a school, and let loose ideas that would lead in three short decades to the end of British rule in the Gold Coast.

The school was created to challenge the existing racial conventions and to instill pride in the nations’s putative leaders. Its motto, designed by Dr. Aggrey and displayed boldly on a heraldic shield, was composed of black and white piano keys. Its message declared that all races are equal and as necessary for civilized harmony as the black and white keys on the piano. At a time when aristocratic and middle-class women in Britain were barred from parliament and other bastions of authority and privilege, the school admitted children of both sexes and educated them together and equally. In 1924, when African culture was regarded by many Europeans as backward and retrogressive, a Department of Anthropology was established on the campus. It was headed by R.S. Rattray, a noted anthropologist. He was given the responsibility and the means to research Asante culture and to make his conclusions available to the government for policy guidance. Rattray employed his students as research assistants and undertook field research in the towns and villages around Achimota and beyond. These communities contained demobilized former soldiers from all over the country. The results were published and used to teach local history. The exercise demonstrated the lie that Africans lacked a history.

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Do Black People Feel Excluded From Brixton?

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/do-black-people-feel-excluded-brixton

Do Black People Feel Excluded From Brixton?

LOCAL LANDMARK: The street market in Electric Avenue, BrixtonDOWN TO: The market in Electric Avenue.

THERE WAS a time in this country when the mention of Brixton symbolised the experience of Caribbean people in Britain.

While this is still true to a large extent – Brixton is home to the Black Cultural Archives, and rightly so – it seems to be the only legacy remaining.

For a significant number of the children of the Windrush generation, their lives were about Brixton: where they went to school, where they grew up and made lifelong friends and where they ran into various scrapes that finally culminated in clashes with heavy-handed police in 1981.

However, when a large number of shops closed after the riots and Brixton was left almost derelict, a run-down no-go area, it was black professionals and businesses – accountants, lawyers, estate agents, recruitment consultants, newspaper publishers, PR and advertising agencies, builders and contractors, management consultants, researchers, restaurants, book shops – who staked their claim to it and helped regenerate the area.

It was to Brixton that all black VIPs and celebrities from abroad, such as Nelson Mandela and Mike Tyson, flocked to for a taste and feel of the black experience when they came to these shores.

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Why we must support black carers – Ade Sawyerr in Voice Online

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/why-we-must-support-black-carers

Why We Must Support Black Carers

SUPPORT NEEDED: Carers see their role as part of their duty and often do not know that help is available for them

THROUGHOUT THE UK there are a lot of people who care, unpaid, for a family member or friend who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support, and provide assistance to them in diverse ways.

Conventional wisdom suggests that most ethnic minority people will care for their loved ones, children and relatives. The reality however is that this unpaid duty can leave carers physically, mentally and emotionally drained to the extent that, the longer they carry out this role without support, the more likely they are in danger of their becoming unwell themselves and isolated.

The major problem is that there are a large number of hidden carers amongst the black and minority ethnic (BME) community who do not ask for help. These hidden carers see it as part of their duty, or they do not know that help is available to support them as carers. Or it could be because they think that asking for help would mean that they cannot cope with what they regard as, their basic duties of care to a loved one. There are others who also fear that knowledge of their duties will mean that their cared for may be taken into an institution where they may not be properly looked after.

Carers face a number of other difficulties such as having to juggle their paid work around their caring role and this can impact their career and earning power.

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Call for Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in major listening exercise

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Call for Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in major listening exercise

Cllr Lorna Campbell, cabinet member for Equalities and Communities has called on Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in a major listening exercise in March and April. The council is undertaking research to listen to the views and experiences of Lambeth’s black Caribbean community.

Lambeth is changing the way it operates to give residents real power and influence over decisions which affect their lives. Under Lambeth’s Cooperative Council residents, councillors and council staff will work together to design, develop and deliver services. This research is part of the council’s wider work to understand the views and experiences of Lambeth’s diverse communities.  Continue reading “Call for Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in major listening exercise”

Is there Black Caribbean flight from Inner London?

Whist the discussion on the results of 2011 census rages, the headlines seem to be more emotive than based on rigorous analysis of the figures and its implications.  There is certainly a need for more information on the Black Caribbean population, especially in the places that they are usually associated with in order for a more informed discussion to take place. Places such as Lambeth need more critical analysis.

Between 1991 and 2001, the percentage of the Black Caribbean population increased from 1.05% to 1.14% in England.  In London it increased from 4.36% to 4.79%, and in Outer London, it increased from 2.71% to 3.49%. However between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of the Black Caribbean population has decreased in all these areas. It is down to 1.11% in England, down to 4.22% in London and down to 3.45% in Outer London.

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African alphabets and the QWERTY Keyboard problem – by Ade Sawyerr

London ©2013

blackboard

I attended ‘ABC’ at Frankfurt House the James Manye Naa Afimpong’s House before we moved to the james Town Mantse’s Palace at Mantse Agbonaa.  Our teacher was called Sigismund Owoo, but we all called him Sigi, and the school was called ‘Sigi Sigi kpee ŋaa, didɛ ʃala akɛyeɔ komi’ meaning Sigi does not eat crayfish, tilapia best with kenkey, I suppose a meaningless rhyme for those of us growing up in James Town British Accra in the 1950’s.  After Sigi, I was fortunate to follow an Aunt Mrs Mary Acolatse, who lived in the palatial Adorso House opposite our house, for a brief while, to the Accra Day Nursery, which she run before I started at Accra United at Adedaikpo.

I passed my entry exam into class one with flying colours, I had a lot of practice during my pre-school years, not studying as you would think, but doing a lot of hand stretching exercises because entry to primary school was determined not by what you knew but rather by demonstrating that you could touch your ears with your hand across your head.  Of course there were several things that I also had to learn before then.

Primary school consisted of learning the alphabets and this is where the dualism started for all of us.  Whilst we had learnt the English alphabet at home to give us a head start in school, lower primary school was also about learning the Ga alphabet, 26 letters but with differences from the English alphabet as shown below.

a b d e ε f g h i j k l m n ŋ o ɔ p r s t u v w y z

A B D E Ɛ F H I J K L M N Ŋ O Ɔ P R S T U V W Y Z

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Use more community organisations to prevent knife crime now

Ade Sawyerr argues that it is up to us as individuals and members of community organisations to be vocal, to be willing to get involved and to ensure the right political and economic structures are put in place to tackle knife and gun crime.

Youth crime has always been with us in London but has become more topical in recent times because of the increased levels of death and serious injuries involving young people. Youth crime has escalated from the use of fisticuffs to more violent acts of stabbing and shooting as the ‘modus operandi’ to settle most arguments and disagreements. Now the must-have accessories are more often than not, knives and guns and possession is often fuelled by gangs, drugs, honour and respect issues.

The perpetrators of these severe forms of crime are getting younger by the day. Young people are trying to formulate their own ways of dealing with the bullies; they carry knives because they think they will look tough and this will be a deterrent. It is no longer cool to report this to their parents or the right authorities because their perception is that the authorities cannot protect them. Instead they seek protection in gangs where peer pressure is exerted on them through the initiation, honour and loyalty to the gang and end up ready to avenge wrongs done to their collective or prove how tough they are – a vicious herd instinct comes into play.

The problems with carrying guns and knives is that there is a high probability that they will be used and once this happens the problems escalates for all in the community. The irony is that the perpetrators of knife crimes are also more likely to be victims of crime themselves.

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