60 Jubilee Anniv Durbar Main Speech – David Tay
Mawuli School 60th Anniversary Celebrations
Theme: Mawuli School: Living the Dream of the Founding Fathers in Human Capital Development
Anniversary Durbar: Main Speech by Dr. David C. K. Tay
November 13, 2010
Chairman of the Council of State, Togbi Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of Ho Asogli State, Honourable Ministers, Moderator of the E. P. Church, Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, The Headmaster, Teachers, Members of PTA, OMSU Organizations, Members of the Planning Committee, Ancient, Old and Young Mawulians, Students, Togbiwo, Mamawo, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am greatly honoured to be invited to be the main speaker on this august occasion, the 60th Anniversary of Mawuli School with the theme: Living the Dream of the Founding Fathers in Human Capital Development. When we mention the Founding Fathers, the name that comes to the forefront is Rev. Walter P. Trost, the first Headmaster of Mawuli School. On April 22, 2000, OMSU-NA held the 50th Anniversary Fundraising Gala in New York City. Rev. and Mrs. Trost were in attendance and Rev. Trost narrated the history of the beginning of Mawuli School. I gave a brief account of the early years from 1951 to 1955.
Then on July 8, 2000, we gathered here to celebrate the 50th Anniversary, the Golden Jubilee, of Mawuli School. Again, Rev. and Mrs. Trost were present. Rev. Trost was on the stage and told us the events that led to the founding of Mawuli School. Today, I ask you all to take a moment to remember the Founding Fathers and all the Mawulians who are no longer here to celebrate this occasion with us.
It all started in August 1948 when the Rev. Christian G. Baeta travelled to the United States and first met Rev. Walter P. Trost, who was then directing a Church Summer Camp for teen-agers in Wisconsin. Rev. Trost was a pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Church (United Church of Christ), Random Lake, Wisconsin and also teaching and serving as Head of the Chemistry and Physics Department at Lakeland College at Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Rev. Baeta told Rev. Trost about the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in the Gold Coast and the work it was doing and invited him to come for a visit. This was followed by an airmail letter in February of 1949 from Rev. Baeta, telling Rev. Trost that the E. P. Church had been planning for many years to establish a Secondary School in Ho, the first secondary school to open in what was then the Mandated Trust Territory, part of the former Togoland, that was placed under the governorship of the British. Now they had the land, donated by the Glalah family to the E. P. Church for the school and a grant from the British Government to build the school. They wanted an ordained minister to head the school, and they wanted the school to have a strong program of science studies. Rev. Baeta then asked if Rev. Trost would be willing to come and head the school.
That was quite a challenge for Rev. Trost and his family. However, after a few exchanges of letters and some assurances given by Rev. Baeta, Rev. Trost accepted the offer. He, Mrs. Trost and their two children: two-and-a-half-year old Paul and one-year old Jean, arrived by ship at Takoradi on October 13, 1949 from where they travelled to Ho. By then, pupils had taken the Common Entrance Examination, and potentially about 500 had chosen the option to come to Mawuli School. Not only were the buildings for the school not ready, they were not even started. Yet the Director of Education, a British Officer, came to tell Rev. Trost that His Majesty’s Government had promised the United Nations Trusteeship Council that a school of this level would open in the Mandated Trust Territory of British Togoland no later than January 1950, and that it absolutely had to open. He promised to make funds available to make it happen.
The pressure was on. It was decided to use the old Bremen Mission buildings at Ho-Kpodzi built in 1865 as a temporary campus. The Church gave an old building on the grounds to use as a dormitory, classroom and office. Renovations, remodeling and refurbishing of the old building, and the building of a temporary dining hall, kitchen and other facilities feverishly got underway. A truck was bought to haul in the building materials, food supplies and firewood. While all these were going on, Rev. Trost interviewed several of the applicants and selected 35 students. He also hired the first two teachers, Mr. Moses Baeta and Mr. Samuel Ofori. In spite of the fact that all the facilities were not ready, the students arrived and the school started on January 31, 1950. A few weeks later, there was a large gathering for the official opening.
The first year was rough. Water supply was a problem and sometimes there was not enough food to feed the students. But with perseverance and lots of improvisations, the school managed to go through the first year. The first-year students selected the name Mawuli School. When I arrived among the second-year class of 35 students in January 1951 and settled into the temporary buildings at Ho-Kpodzi, some of the teething problems were under control. There was enough food to eat but quality of the food was a problem. The result was that we did not eat all the food that was served at each meal. It was therefore decided that the leftover food should not go to waste. Thus, a pig farm was started. Construction of the permanent buildings was eventually started but since the dormitories were not ready, a third-year class of 35 students was admitted into the temporary buildings at Ho-Kpodzi. After that we started moving into the permanent buildings.
The dreams of the Founding Fathers are summed up in the design of the Mawuli School Crest in which I took part. The Cross in the middle signifies that the School is a Christian Institution, although it is open to students of all faiths. The surrounding three sides of the equilateral triangle represent the three words in the School motto: Head Heart Hand, which like the name of the School was chosen by the students. The fact that the triangle is equilateral, that is, each of the three sides has the same length, means each of the three words in the School motto is of equal importance.
Head stands for academic excellence. The Synod Committee of the E. P. Church decided that the new school should have a strong academic standing and should excel in the science subjects and Mawuli School lived up to that dream right from the very beginning. In spite of the difficulties experienced at the start, all, except one, in the Class of 1954 who wrote the Cambridge University Matriculation Examination passed. The academic excellence continued during the early years. Not only were the percentages of passes very high, the grades were also very high. Mawulians were among the top performers in the country. How did I know? In those days, each year, Elder Dempster Lines Limited invited the top five students in the country, based on the results of the West African School Certificate Examination, to an interview for a trip to Britain. I, from the Class of 1955, was one of them. The excellent quality of the education we received in Mawuli School also became apparent when several of us from the Class of 1955 went to Kumasi College of Technology to continue our Sixth Form education and were is the same class as students from all the old and well established secondary schools in the country.
Heart stands for giving back to the community. It was the Founding Fathers’ dream that the School would train individuals of high academic standing who would go into the community and develop the region. As part of that training, we, the students in the early years, participated in many community events, such as the annual Durbars and Yam Festivals in Ho. We held an Open House at the School every year to which the community was invited. We also made visits, usually on Sunday afternoons, to the Ho Hospital as well as to the Lepers’ Colony on the road to Kpetoe to sing to the patients and perform community services. There are several other examples including the recent Medical Outreach performed in four Adaklu villages during which 200 children under 5 years of age were vaccinated and 406 adults were treated of various ailments such as malaria, skin infections and intestinal worms, among others.
Hand stands for the strong belief of the Founding Fathers that the students were not there only to study books but to work with their hands as well, in order to make Mawuli School self-sufficient. Thus, a hoe and a cutlass were compulsory items included in the kit list for all students, even for those of us coming from fishing areas. I quickly learned why Kodzi is called Agblenu. While at Kpodzi, with the hoe and cutlass in hand, we, the students, cleared the bush, felled and uprooted trees, removed rocks, leveled the ground, brought in topsoil, planted grass and built our own football field. The Founding Fathers felt that agriculture was very important to the country, hence, the tools were intended to teach the students methods of improving food production. Right from the early years, each House of Residence was given a plot of land which was subdivided into smaller subplots for individual students to plant crops. We roamed the fields around the campus, collected cattle manure and prepared compost to fertilize the crops. We planted yams, cassava, bananas, papaws, pineapples, oranges, and other fruits to use in the school dining hall. Each year at harvest time, competitions were held between the Houses and prizes were awarded for the largest yam and the largest harvest. Rev. Trost himself set the example by planting a garden behind his house and grew a wide variety of crops, including the largest pawpaws I have seen. Thus, when food shortage later caused many schools in Ghana to close, Mawuli was able to stay open and feed itself.
Over the past sixty years, Mawuli has undergone a lot of transformation. Growth in the facilities has not kept pace with growth in the student population. This, coupled with reduced government funding, has put severe strains on the operation of the School. New buildings were placed on hold and maintenance of the existing infrastructure suffered. Matters were made worse by the rapid advances in technology. In spite of all these difficulties, the good news is that, during the sixty years, the School has managed to produce thousands of capable Mawulians in every field of human resources and specialties. Fortunately, some of these Old Mawulians have taken up the challenge and are coming to the rescue, both as individuals and in groups. Several projects have been and continue to be undertaken by OMSU-GHANA, OMSU-NA, OMSU-UK, Mawuli Fund, The Trost Memorial Fund, Year Groups and others. One such example is the rebuilding effort mobilized when fire destroyed Nightingale and Slessor dormitories last year before the government stepped in. To these individuals and groups, I say kudos. However, more is needed and the challenge is in the court of all the Old Mawulians, to support our alma mater and to restore it to its former glory.
So far, projects are being undertaken on individual and ad hoc basis. What is needed is co-ordination of the efforts by all the different groups under one umbrella. In order to achieve the best and most efficient results, all the planning, management and execution of the funds and rebuilding are best centralized and vested in one body. My humble recommendation to the Mawuli School Board and to the Headmaster is to make provisions for a Project Office to be set up in the School where all these development processes will be centralized. Mawuli School has produced many professionals who can manage and operate the Project Office, perhaps on voluntary basis, with the support of a small permanent administration staff. First, short-term and long-term master plans need to be prepared for, say, the next ten, fifteen and or twenty-five years, if they do not already exist. These master plans will form the basis for preparing blueprints for any development work undertaken in the School in a coordinated manner.
We have just heard from the Minister of Education, promises for the many plans the Government has for new buildings in Mawuli School and we are anxiously waiting for their early implementation.
In May this year, I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Mr. John Osei-Nyansa, the Headmaster; Rev. Frank Kwame Anku, Chairman of the School Board; and Mr. Gabriel Kploanyi, Volta Regional Director of Education, during the 2010 OMSU-NA Congress in Washington, DC. From what I saw and heard, I am delighted to say that Mawuli School is in very good hands. I am confident that with more support from the Old Mawulians, commitment from the Teachers to set their goals on producing the best students, and a solid resolve from all the Students to perform, Mawuli School will regain its old glory and Live the Dream of the Founding Fathers in Human Capital Development.
In conclusion, my advice to the younger generation is: Take full advantage of what the present offers, but do not forget to look back into history and make use of the lessons learned from your predecessors and mentors in order to improve your future.