Achee – mo-ta!
Achee – mo-ta!
Achee – mo-ta!
(loosely translated as “We don’t point out folks”)
The land on which Achimota Faculty stands was as soon as a spot of refuge for all who sought it. The varsity 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 delight of our nation. However why Achee-mo-ta? Maybe, Prof. Abena Busia explains it finest 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 could expose them to their pursuers. Right here we see the identify Achimota steeped in a context of resistance and refuge. Context issues. The forest supplied refuge to these fleeing and so has the college to these rejected by dominant societal powers of epochs passed by. These folks 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 by which formal training started right here in Ghana and the trajectory it has taken is vital to the dialogue at hand. Sooner or later on this trajectory Achimota Faculty emerged to grow to be one of the prestigious faculties in Ghana. However how has its course been and the place does it stand at present? Is it nonetheless a spot of refuge or has it grow to be a logo 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 Faculty’s refusal to confess two Rastafari college students until they shaved off their locks has spawned passionate public debate in a way that has not been witnessed in latest reminiscence in Ghana. The final place of Achimota Faculty has been that their “guidelines and laws” 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 quick positions; it’s also a debate about our nationwide id; 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 id of Achimota Faculty. Will it preserve its age-old id steeped in colonialism or will it search to mirror an id that’s thoughtful of the up to date panorama? There may be additionally the case of the id of the Rastafari college students, a long-marginalized group who search to be meritoriously admitted (as that they had been previous to them reporting to highschool with their locks).
Certainly, the state of affairs may 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 Faculty. To totally expatiate, allow us to supply some context. Offering context situates the design and alignment of our academic establishments to the instances and desires of educants.
The historical past of formal training in Ghana may be traced to the early European retailers and missionaries (Ofori-Attah, 2006). Whereas retailers established faculties to attain their enterprise goals, missionaries established faculties to unfold their Christian doctrines. The missionaries ultimately 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, gained tse me and many others.) 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 massive, perceiving monotheism as the one acceptable type of spirituality and each different type of religious expression rejected on the idea of it being “heathenism.”
Origin of hair guidelines
This angle held by the colonists additionally utilized to the hair and its expressions by Africans. African hair traditionally and culturally has been thought of a logo that’s consultant of knowledge on a person’s ethnicity, societal standing, spirituality, age, marital standing, and traditions (Manfo, 2018; White & White, 1995). The feel of African hair was partially liable for the event of those related practices. “Hair for the Black particular person was very religious and was additionally believed to have a direct connection to God” (because it flowed upwards: Manfo, 2018) Since historic instances, African hairstyles have been recognized for the multifaceted and sophisticated natures, a conception that persists to the current day (Johnson & Bankhead, 2014). Brewington and Shamasunder (2013) observe that “throughout the African Continent, the hair’s worth and price had been heightened by its religious qualities…the hair was the closest factor to the heavens, communication from the gods and spirits had been thought to go by 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 function that African hair performed in African life, discovered it antithetical to instructional 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 assorted 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 quite a symbolic elimination of African tradition. The shaving of the hair represented a elimination of any hint of African id…” (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 today is that faculties don’t want college students to spend an excessive amount of time on their hair and as a consequence taking treasured time away from their research; but headmistresses and academics 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 Faculty. 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 minimize their hair to the extent of Black girls it makes them look very ugly and it might probably even have an effect on their appears to be like so Caucasian college students usually are not 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 mentioned was that the character of the Black man’s hair, the kinky hair is ready to stand in form whenever you minimize it. So, it makes the Black baby look good-looking or stunning. The silky nature of Caucasian hair, it falls, so whenever you minimize it, it makes them look ugly” (Ghanaweb – Saturday March twenty seventh, 2021).
Similar 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 in addition our aesthetics. Academic websites have been liable for the internalization of European aesthetics amongst our folks. It was additionally in opposition to this backdrop that Achimota Faculty 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 said, “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 must invent by training, African middlemen/ladies to offset the efforts of Africans they (Guggisberg and colonists) thought of “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 beneath:
“The missionaries realized that African faith, artwork, music and different social actions had been carefully linked with one another. They incorrectly thought that they might not change 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;
“If you management a person’s pondering you would not have to fret about his actions. You would not have to inform him to face right here or go yonder. He’ll discover his ‘correct place’ and can keep in it (my emphasis). You don’t want to ship him to the again door. He’ll go with out being advised. Actually, if there isn’t any backdoor, he’ll minimize one for his particular profit. His training makes it essential” (Woodson, 1933).
Achimota Faculty – Background
It’s on this context that Achimota Faculty was established by the then Governor of the Gold Coast, Gordon Guggisberg. Guggisberg’s goal was to offer 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 instructional 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 Faculty in 1927. The target of the college as said 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 angle 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 pattern 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 modify when the context adjustments. If not, why do proponents of this argument not simply have remained beneath 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 now not keen to “observe the principles”! Had Kwame Nkrumah adopted the principles there would have been no independence. When guidelines grow to be outmoded, they have to be modified to mirror the prevailing circumstances.
These making this argument have additionally requested the younger males to simply minimize 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 non secular 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 scholar 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 Faculty and plenty 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 Faculty (and any faculty for that matter) with out the conditionality of getting to shave off their locks, that may “open the floodgates” for others to make related calls for on the tutorial equipment. It’s fascinating 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 house. Dr. Amu persevered and his legacy is one we’re all in awe of at present. Secondly, what are these “floodgates”? Isn’t the structure designed to guard and serve all Ghanaians? Some appear to assume that it’s only for a bit of the society. Certainly, some have even commented that the subsequent factor we are going to 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 knowledgeable, and I’ll depart it to the consultants to in the end determine and interpret the structure because it pertains to this case. Bear in mind the structure isn’t about what you assume or like, it’s about what’s written. Let’s see what the structure says:
Article 25(1) of the Structure offers the suitable to equal instructional alternatives
Article 28(4) explicitly states that youngsters can’t be disadvantaged of their training due solely to their non secular 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 suitable to follow any faith, tradition or custom topic solely to the provisions of the Structure.
Many have cited Article 14(1)(e), the suitable to non-public liberty could also be curtailed for an individual beneath the age of 18 for the aim of training. (This provision is contextually irrelevant. The scholars usually are not 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 depart it to the consultants to determine).
The Kids’s Act of 1998 prohibits discrimination in opposition to youngsters on a number of grounds, together with customized and in addition prohibits depriving youngsters entry to training.
The argument that by some means 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 instructional areas is tantamount to indiscipline. Are they critical? How on earth does one’s hair signify self-discipline or the dearth 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 highschool was seen as a mark of indiscipline. How is that this argument holding up at present?
Classism and elitism
The suspicion of many who’re against the rejection of the 2 younger males is that the management of Achimota Faculty is classist and elitist and is solely hiding behind “guidelines and laws” to hold out their discriminatory agenda. This have to be said 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 laws 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 mentioned college students and others. This has not but been articulated.
Large assist from the Ghanaian public
Within the midst of the continued debate, the extent of assist that the 2 younger males have garnered from the Ghanaian public has been nothing wanting encouraging. Throughout the assorted 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 controversy rages on, I can’t assist however ask, is anybody benefiting from this debate and in that case, who’s it? What problems with nationwide curiosity would have been middle stage had it not been for this ‘brouhaha’?
Democracy and inclusion
Certainly, we can’t choose and select features of democracy which can be interesting to us and oppose features we deem unappealing. Some have even gone to the extent of arguing that Ghana’s democracy be seen as transitional, by which communitarianism takes priority over liberalism. Once more, this needs to be contextualized throughout the scope of cultural heritage legislation which within the up to date 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 ways. Such an training system ought to mirror its capability to reply to and meet the considerations of a various scholar physique, a range that’s outlined when it comes to faith, ethnicity, class, gender, and tradition amongst different elements (Dei, 2004). It’s time that Ghana as a nation and Achimota as a faculty rose to the event to rejoice quite than reject distinction and variety.
By Dr. Kwadwo Oppong-Wadie
The creator is an educationist and academic researcher. He’s a member of school (Faculty of Training) at Illinois State College.