Achee – mo-ta!
Achee – mo-ta!
Achee – mo-ta!
(loosely translated as “We don’t point out individuals”)
The land on which Achimota College stands was as soon as a spot of refuge for all who sought it. The college additionally carried out this operate when it was constructed on the location, providing refuge to iconic figures resembling Dr. Ephraim Amu, who had been rejected by the church for preaching in Kente fabric and Ahenema sandals, then related to what the Europeans termed ‘the fetish’, however now the pleasure of our nation. However why Achee-mo-ta? Maybe, Prof. Abena Busia explains it greatest when she writes, “Right here we got here, fleeing to a spot of shelter escaping the chains and the lash we might not undergo.” Achee-mo-ta… as a result of ‘mentioning peoples’ names within the forest might expose them to their pursuers. Right here we see the title Achimota steeped in a context of resistance and refuge. Context issues. The forest provided refuge to these fleeing and so has the college to these rejected by dominant societal powers of epochs passed by. These individuals had been fleeing from slave catchers in the course of the slave period, and from colonists searching for to lash them for no matter cause. To this finish, the context during which formal training started right here in Ghana and the trajectory it has taken is essential to the dialogue at hand. Sooner or later on this trajectory Achimota College emerged to develop into some of the prestigious faculties in Ghana. However how has its course been and the place does it stand at this time? Is it nonetheless a spot of refuge or has it develop into an emblem of rejection? In regard to the rejection of the 2 college students, some have sought to argue on the idea of haircut whereas others have argued on the idea of faith/spirituality. This summary argues for the admission and inclusion of the scholars on the idea of each coiffure and faith/spirituality.
The occasions of the previous week or so involving Achimota College’s refusal to confess two Rastafari college students until they shaved off their locks has spawned passionate public debate in a fashion that has not been witnessed in latest reminiscence in Ghana. The final place of Achimota College has been that their “guidelines and rules” forbid the sporting of lengthy hair whereas that of the Rastafari college students has been that their locks is a core a part of their “faith and tradition” and as such is a non-negotiable tenet. The Rastafari college students have maintained that their place is supported by the structure. The controversy goes past these fast positions; additionally it is a debate about our nationwide identification; who’re we as a nation? Are we a tolerant and inclusive nation, or are we an illiberal and unique nation? It’s also in regards to the identification of Achimota College. Will it keep its age-old identification steeped in colonialism or will it search to replicate an identification that’s thoughtful of the modern panorama? There’s additionally the case of the identification of the Rastafari college students, a long-marginalized group who search to be meritoriously admitted (as they’d been previous to them reporting to high school with their locks).
Certainly, the scenario could be perceived as a conflict of worldviews that has culminated within the ongoing “brouhaha” that has its roots within the very starting of formal training in Ghana (the then Gold Coast colony) and afterward, the institution of Achimota College. To totally expatiate, allow us to supply some context. Offering context situates the design and alignment of our academic establishments to the instances and wishes of educants.
The historical past of formal training in Ghana could be traced to the early European retailers and missionaries (Ofori-Attah, 2006). Whereas retailers established faculties to realize their enterprise aims, missionaries established faculties to unfold their Christian doctrines. The missionaries finally gained the assist of the colonial authorities. In these days, the favored sentiment amongst Ghanaians (Gold Coast topics to be actual) was that the mission faculties had been alienating its college students from their communities. Conventional Ghanaian clergymen (akomfo, bokoor, received tse me and so on.) raised opposition to what they noticed because the indoctrination of the educants (Boampong, 2013). This conflict of worldviews, which has persevered to the current day was inevitable owing to the stance adopted by the missionaries and Christianity writ giant, perceiving monotheism as the one acceptable type of spirituality and each different type of non secular expression rejected on the idea of it being “heathenism.”
Origin of hair guidelines
This attitude held by the colonists additionally utilized to the hair and its expressions by Africans. African hair traditionally and culturally has been thought-about an emblem that’s consultant of data on a person’s ethnicity, societal standing, spirituality, age, marital standing, and traditions (Manfo, 2018; White & White, 1995). The feel of African hair was partly answerable for the event of those related practices. “Hair for the Black particular person was very non secular and was additionally believed to have a direct connection to God” (because it flowed upwards: Manfo, 2018) Since historical instances, African hairstyles have been recognized for the multifaceted and complicated natures, a conception that persists to the current day (Johnson & Bankhead, 2014). Brewington and Shamasunder (2013) be aware that “throughout the African Continent, the hair’s worth and price had been heightened by its non secular qualities…the hair was the closest factor to the heavens, communication from the gods and spirits had been thought to go by way of the hair to get to the soul” (Brewington & Shamasunder, 2013).
African hair was detested by the colonists and although they had been very conscious of the position that African hair performed in African life, discovered it antithetical to academic areas. Johnson and Bankhead (2014) assert that
“Europeans, who had lengthy traded and communicated with Africans, knew the complexity and significance of Black hair. They had been typically struck by the varied hairstyles that they noticed inside every neighborhood. In an effort to dehumanize and break the African spirit, Europeans shaved the heads of enslaved Africans upon arrival within the Americas. This was not merely a random act, however relatively a symbolic elimination of African tradition. The shaving of the hair represented a elimination of any hint of African identification…” (Johnson & Bankhead, 2014).
It was in opposition to this background that missions developed hair insurance policies for his or her faculties. The rationale given for hair insurance policies lately is that faculties are not looking for college students to spend an excessive amount of time on their hair and as a consequence taking valuable time away from their research; but headmistresses and lecturers who though have very busy schedules make time for all method of elaborate synthetic hairstyles spurred on by a need for European model hair. This additionally explains why the hair rule appears to use to solely African and never Caucasian college students of Achimota College. It was additionally on this foundation that Angel Carbonu, the then vp (now president) of NAGRAT is presupposed to have made the next remark:
“When Caucasian college students reduce their hair to the extent of Black girls it makes them look very ugly and it will probably even have an effect on their seems to be so Caucasian college students will not be allowed to chop their hair. There isn’t a rule within the GES regarding Caucasians in Ghana as a result of we’re not Caucasians, we’re Negroes.”
Angel Carbonu has since sought to make clear:
“What I stated was that the character of the Black man’s hair, the kinky hair is ready to stand in form once you reduce it. So, it makes the Black youngster look good-looking or stunning. The silky nature of Caucasian hair, it falls, so once you reduce it, it makes them look ugly” (Ghanaweb – Saturday March twenty seventh, 2021).
Identical distinction! Reality of the matter is, these hair guidelines had been by no means meant for Caucasians, they had been meant for African hair, proper from the very onset.
When Europeans colonized us, they colonized details about us and likewise our aesthetics. Instructional websites have been answerable for the internalization of European aesthetics amongst our individuals. It was additionally in opposition to this backdrop that Achimota College was established in 1927. The colonial authorities was intentional at erasing all vestiges of Africanism and faculties had been/are the first websites for such undertakings. Certainly, the colonial authorities, by means of the Watson Fee’s report on the riots of 1948 acknowledged, “The previous religions are being undermined by trendy conceptions. Earlier disciplines are weakening. Others have to be devised to take their place.” Who was undermining the previous religions, and who was devising new ones to take their place? Guggisberg and the colonists had a have to invent by way of training, African middlemen/girls to offset the efforts of Africans they (Guggisberg and colonists) thought-about “demagogues.” The colonial authorities and their surrogates have been undermining the previous African religions and have been devising new ones to take their place, all of their expressions and manifestations included. Martin (1976) discusses the origins of such behaviors under:
“The missionaries realized that African faith, artwork, music and different social actions had been intently related with one another. They incorrectly thought that they might not exchange current beliefs with Christianity until they expelled all different beliefs. African dancing and music had been banned from the curriculum” (Martin, 1976).
Lengthy after the missionaries and the propagators of assimilationist insurance policies have gone, we’re nonetheless perpetuating their colonial legacies. That is what the good Dr. Carter G. Woodson cautioned us about when he put ahead the maxim that;
“Whenever you management a person’s considering you do not need to fret about his actions. You do not need to inform him to face right here or go yonder. He’ll discover his ‘correct place’ and can keep in it (my emphasis). You do not want to ship him to the again door. He’ll go with out being informed. In reality, if there isn’t a backdoor, he’ll reduce one for his particular profit. His training makes it vital” (Woodson, 1933).
Achimota College – Background
It’s on this context that Achimota College was established by the then Governor of the Gold Coast, Gordon Guggisberg. Guggisberg’s goal was to supply an alternative choice to the mission faculties. Guggisberg had hitherto launched the system of oblique rule into the Gold Coast in 1919 and had adopted the coverage of assimilation for the colony’s academic establishments. Assimilation sought to ‘anglicize’ the colony’s topics, and faculties had been major websites of the coverage’s implementation. It was this similar Guggisberg who established Achimota College in 1927. The target of the college as acknowledged was the coaching of African leaders. These African leaders had been to be utilized within the service of our colonial domination in all its aspects. The preliminary orientation of the coaching of scholars at Achimota was ‘Western in mental perspective in direction of life, however who stay[ed] African in sympathy.’ The westernization course of was so intense that the college truly started producing trainees who had been westernized each intellectually in addition to culturally. Achimota faculty socialized its college students to the norms and values of the English ruling class by basing faculty rituals on European traditions (Yamada, 2009). This development has continued to the current day. It’s on this context that guidelines in opposition to African hairstyles and spirituality exist.
Guidelines for guidelines sake?
All through this debate, there are those that have maintained that guidelines are guidelines and have to be adopted and adhered to in any respect prices. No, not so, guidelines are context-specific, they alter when the context adjustments. If not, why do proponents of this argument not simply have remained below colonialism and adhered to the White man’s guidelines? It’s just because the context had modified, and Ghanaians responded to that by demanding independence! We had been not keen to “observe the principles”! Had Kwame Nkrumah adopted the principles there would have been no independence. When guidelines develop into outmoded, they have to be modified to replicate the prevailing circumstances.
These making this argument have additionally requested the younger males to only reduce off their hair and be admitted. That’s an unfair demand. Would these making this assertion be ready for instance to denounce Jesus as a precondition to gaining admission to a authorities faculty, or to eschew Islam as a prerequisite for attending a government-assisted Christian mission faculty? Asking the younger males to chop their hair when that’s integral to their spiritual conviction is akin to doing the identical factor. Secondly, Muslim college students have all the time been exempted from attending church companies in Christian faculties, although the principles require pupil attendance. This subsequently reinforces the concept exemptions are made for college kids who fall in a particular class. There are second-cycle establishments in Ghana who don’t reject college students with locks; is Achimota distinctive? Accra Academy, Aggrey Memorial, Osei Kyeretwie Senior Excessive College and lots of others have all admitted college students with locks. No chaos has ensued.
Opening of the floodgates
There have been those that have been making the purpose that if the 2 younger males are admitted to Achimota College (and any faculty for that matter) with out the conditionality of getting to shave off their locks, that might “open the floodgates” for others to make comparable calls for on the tutorial equipment. It’s attention-grabbing to notice that these similar arguments had been made by some Ghanaian Christians who warned that permitting Dr. Ephraim Amu to hold out his pro-African actions within the church would open the floodgates to all method of native apparel, devices, and accoutrements being introduced into the church area. Dr. Amu persevered and his legacy is one we’re all in awe of at this time. Secondly, what are these “floodgates”? Isn’t the structure designed to guard and serve all Ghanaians? Some appear to suppose that it’s only for a bit of the society. Certainly, some have even commented that the following factor we’ll witness would be the little children of conventional clergymen making calls for. Allow us to be clear, it’s inside their rights to take action. The structure was designed for all Ghanaians, not simply the elites and people throughout the dominant sections of society!
I’m no authorized professional, and I’ll go away it to the specialists to finally resolve and interpret the structure because it pertains to this example. Keep in mind the structure just isn’t about what you suppose or like, it’s about what’s written. Let’s see what the structure says:
Article 25(1) of the Structure offers the fitting to equal academic alternatives
Article 28(4) explicitly states that kids can’t be disadvantaged of their training due solely to their spiritual or different beliefs.
Article 17(2) prohibits discrimination on sure grounds, together with faith, creed and social standing.
Article 26(1) of the Structure provides everybody the fitting to observe any faith, tradition or custom topic solely to the provisions of the Structure.
Many have cited Article 14(1)(e), the fitting to non-public liberty could also be curtailed for an individual below the age of 18 for the aim of training. (This provision is contextually irrelevant. The scholars will not be asserting that their proper to non-public liberty is being curtailed. They demand that their constitutional rights are revered. That’s my interpretation however as talked about earlier will go away it to the specialists to resolve).
The Youngsters’s Act of 1998 prohibits discrimination in opposition to kids on a number of grounds, together with customized and likewise prohibits depriving kids entry to training.
The argument that in some way having locks is tantamount to indiscipline.
The argument has additionally been made by those that oppose the admission of the 2 college students that having locks in academic areas is tantamount to indiscipline. Are they critical? How on earth does one’s hair signify self-discipline or the shortage thereof? For the avoidance of doubt, self-discipline has to do with the perfection of ethical character and self-control. The suggestion that one’s hair is a sign of his or her ethical character and self-control is one which has no foundation in actuality. There was a time when not carrying “Achimota sandals” to high school was considered as a mark of indiscipline. How is that this argument holding up at this time?
Classism and elitism
The suspicion of many who’re against the rejection of the 2 younger males is that the management of Achimota College is classist and elitist and is just hiding behind “guidelines and rules” to hold out their discriminatory agenda. This have to be acknowledged throughout the context that no rationale has been given as to why the college is sustaining the stance they’ve taken. Merely saying we have now guidelines and rules doesn’t quantity to stating a rationale. There needs to be an indication to the impact that the locks of the scholars will undermine the target of offering training to the stated college students and others. This has not but been articulated.
Huge assist from the Ghanaian public
Within the midst of the continuing debate, the extent of assist that the 2 younger males have garnered from the Ghanaian public has been nothing in need of encouraging. Throughout the varied Whatsapp and Telegram platforms that I subscribe to, the eagerness that has been exhibited on this nation-gripping debate is reflective of the truth that the citizenry is engaged in charting the course of the way forward for the nation. Many civil society and non-governmental organizations have additionally added their voices.
As the talk rages on, I can not assist however ask, is anybody benefiting from this debate and in that case, who’s it? What problems with nationwide curiosity would have been heart stage had it not been for this ‘brouhaha’?
Democracy and inclusion
Certainly, we can not decide and select facets of democracy which are interesting to us and oppose facets we deem unappealing. Some have even gone to the extent of arguing that Ghana’s democracy be considered as transitional, during which communitarianism takes priority over liberalism. Once more, this needs to be contextualized throughout the scope of cultural heritage legislation which within the modern milieu is a acknowledged authorized instrument for the safety, safeguarding, upkeep, and preservation of cultural heritage, cultural property and cultural rights, inside which culturally and religiously aligned hairstyles fall.
Inclusion and variety are options of actually democratic societies. In a democratic dispensation, training have to be inclusive and devoid of exclusionary techniques. Such an training system ought to replicate its capability to reply to and meet the issues of a various pupil physique, a range that’s outlined when it comes to faith, ethnicity, class, gender, and tradition amongst different components (Dei, 2004). It’s time that Ghana as a nation and Achimota as a college rose to the event to have a good time relatively than reject distinction and variety.
By Dr. Kwadwo Oppong-Wadie
The writer is an educationist and academic researcher. He’s a member of college (School of Training) at Illinois State College.