News > A message from Akora Kwasi Okoh
A message from Akora Kwasi Okoh
Akora Kwasi Okoh

Recently the 1962 year group organised 'Rockin for Motown'. With all the bezzuzzus that was made about the event I expected the hall to be bursting at the seams. It was no where near full. That reminded me of an article I wrote quite sometime ago which I never published. I have reproduced it here to spark a debate. A debate because this is purely a point of view. I am sure others will think differently but let's hear, above all, what should we do to get desired results from Akora's?

Achimotans Need to Rise to the Challenge – A Marketing Tool Required!

There are Achimotans and there are Achimotans! Never a truer statement made in jest.
On a general basis there are certain notions that are very important in our dealings with our fellow human beings. They have been studied. These must be carefully sought out, clearly understood, and then properly taken into consideration in every communication, especially on strategy, and in every collaboration that we intend to have with the targeted persons. Without taking these notions into consideration we may fail to excite the persons we intend to, not because of any fault of their own but because we have failed to appreciate those notions that govern their behaviour and reactions.
Our marketing of the needs of Achimota, our ability to source funds from Akora’s, needs us to sharpen our message and to re-design the concepts/vehicles that we use, or risk failure or indeed continued failure, through not getting the required response from those that we target.
Not very long time ago in addition to the name ‘Old Achimotans’ several other titles were in use such as
- ‘ninoes’ (still in use) i.e. those persons who had recently come into and been admitted to the school;
- ‘mmrantie’ and ‘mmabaa’ (no longer used) for those still undergoing training and education at the school;
- ‘Akora’s’ (widely used), mooted to differentiate the people who had benefitted from the largesse of training and education at Achimota School, finished and had left, from those still in school.

In the recent past an additional term has been used in conjunction with Akora, i.e.

- Motown (er). This is a modern title, which when used on anyone, immediately suggests an Akora of recent emergence, within the last twenty or so years. This is akin to the term ‘Ancient Akora’ which suggests an Akora from the old old days, usually before the second world war!!
- Additionally there were ‘Akorette’s’ i.e. those persons who had left the Achimota Primary School. Some became Akora’s in their own right, anyway.

This ‘oldboyism’ is now a very strong movement fostered by nearly all senior schools in Ghana, and there are all sort of celebrations everywhere under all sorts of names and acronyms to celebrate being part of the alumni of a particular school.

For most schools the alumni associations are very well supported by the alumni. For Achimota, the structures are in place. All over the world, there are Old Achimotan Associations, Foundations, Trusts, Groupings etc, wherever any Achimotan alumni happen to congregate. There are Year Groups bringing together those persons who were in the same forms at the same time, more or less. And there is the national office sited on the school compound to coordinate all the associations and year groups that are part of the alumni groupings (
www.oldachimotan.com and www.oldachimotan.net)

Yet most Akora’s and the associations are simply not raising enough funds for the school. The common perception therefore is that Old Achimotans are not doing enough for their school. Nor do they sufficiently support initiatives undertaken to garner support and finance for the school!

And it is true.

Achimota School is the alma mater of literally thousands of people all over the world. Nearly all of them are extremely proud of the fact that they have had something to do with Achimota in some way or the other.

For most people it is just that, i.e. in the past tense. They are proud? Yes; they will acknowledge being Achimotans? Yes; they will even volunteer that information if it is necessary and if it will yield them a few kudos? Yes; and they will glory in the halo effect that being associated with the school brings? Yes.

But more or less THAT is it. That is unfortunately the more typical Achimotan. They will argue, they will even fight in favour of the school and its honour, they will happily recite with glee all the ‘who is who’ that also went to the school on the outlaws hill, with them, before them and even after them, and sing ‘from Gambaga to Accra’ with nostalgia, gusto and self congratulation.

BUT will they lift a finger to help the school as it is today. Never. Theirs is mired in the past tense; they have been there and done it. Period.

I have met a few who although in that ilk have had to confront the reality that they indeed must think of today and not just the past. For example, an Old Achimotan whose children or child is about to finish JSS all of a sudden re-discovers that he is and has been an Old Achimotan for a long time. Or an Old Achimotan discovers that there will be some gain or benefit from the influence of his past association with the school on some society or organisation he is connected to today!

I am currently Chairman of the School Board so believe you me I have had my fair share of solicitation. Some however do convert to becoming strong supporters; more good to them.

Others seek to muscle in to demand service or recognition due to an unacknowledged association with the school, and are surprised when the welcome is without the fatted calf! Honestly what did they expect?

Then there are the real Achimotans for whom the present and the future are as important as the past. They are not only living waters to a thirsty land but they also care about the source of the living water, lest it dries up.

BUT they are few. Really few compared to the thousands that have had the fortune to attend ‘the school of whom we boast’.

Even within that few there is a divide. There is the one lot who are practical and want to, and actually do do things. They in various ways physically aid the school in the present and for the future. At least they attend functions that renew their association with the school and their alumni mates i.e. Akora’s, old boys or 'Motowners', give money and time, and make arrangements in their own way to aid the school. There are many people who very quietly give all manner of professional help, who donate books, who donate their time, donate their communication skills for example, and also attend functions. All practical stuff.

Then there is the second lot who for whom the present and future are important but they do no real practical stuff. They will attend as many functions as they can to ensure that their presence is felt. The rest of the time is spent arguing about what needs to be done and how, not by themselves, no, but by someone else. By whom is only important, just enough to ensure certainly not by them. They play a very useful role, they are seen a lot, (weddings, funerals, general meeting etc) and they ensure that the Achimotan presence is felt, but they do nothing else, not even a small donation to the school, their main contribution is in talk and chatter.

Then there are the hybrid lot. They talk and they criticize a lot BUT they do give to the school, in time, in energy, and in cash or kind.

Which is the better lot? What matters is to discern which lot “you the reader are in and where you ought to be?”

Some people cannot stand criticism and it puts them off, so they abdicate instead of joining the practical lot because the other lots will always find fault and make a lot of fuss whilst doing nothing themselves.

That is one of the thrusts of this short article. Someone said to me the other day that “the few who do things for the school get into trouble”. The exact wording was “Unfortunately, anyone that sticks their neck out for Achimota School risks personal vilification. We have all experienced some degree of vilification despite our good intentions.”

Never mind that it is true. It is. Someone recently wrote to the newspapers to make a huge fuss over the expansion of the Girls Gymnasium on the basis of maintaining old beauty!!! Is that enough excuse to abdicate from any responsibility that you could easily take up to help the school?

Maybe it is part of the reason why some people prefer to stay mired in the past and do nothing about the present or the future and leave it for the very few to take up all of the effort. Maybe. But is that enough reason? Are we not made of sterner stuff, don’t we have thicker skins?

Being living water cannot be taken as a matter of course. It is something that needs to be worked at. When one takes a decision to be a real Achimotan and do something for the school it should not be for praise, nor should it be for self aggrandisement. It should be despite any criticism (that by the way you should expect – no hiding your head in the sand), and it should make you feel good to be accomplishing something, even it is only part of the talk fest. Better still something practical, like helping to alleviate some perceived difficulty that the school is currently facing or will face. And there are many things (and projects) that the school needs. Every little help of any nature, of every kind, is sincerely appreciated.

I have to say though the real Achimotan does get frustrated when other equally or more capable people do nothing. The few who are making the effort just cannot understand why they alone should be doing so. A very natural sentiment. And a whole lot of effort has been spent trying to rope in the larger majority. But it has not worked and maybe never will. Someone is yet to discover the magic thing that will make all Achimotans, young and old, want to go beyond the past tense, and to want to start helping the school in a very meaningful way, in real time. Maybe it will come so do not let me be a doomsayer. I just hope it is in my lifetime.

What is it that will make each and every very proud Akora want to come together to seek to provide for the upkeep of their alma mater even if just to preserve it to the image and standard that has made them proud of the school all these years?

Many, for good reasons, have never been back there since they left so are not aware of the deterioration in the support and infrastructure. Over 2,000 students instead of the 600 in our time. Severely weakened sewage system, No music school, No swimming pool, Very limited games fields, Weak gymnasiums and an Assembly Hall that caters for only half of the students at any one time! etc etc.

Nevertheless my advice to those who have chosen to help is to please go ahead. Waiting for others to join in may set progress back. Better to say I did all I could than to say I could have done this or that but did not because I got no real support. Little by little something will get done. Every wall has a first stone that was laid. By the way security is now a real issue for the school so a wall around the campus is a priority project on the cards!

There are those who are already doing their utmost, they must be praised (not because they are asking for it but because it is due) and hopefully it will help bring other capable people on board.

The real Achimotan must not lose hope. Yet we must search for that magic thing, that marketing concept which will make Akora’s respond and want to respond. What is it? Where are all the Akora Marketing guru’s? The school needs you.

Meanwhile the few must go on, with whatever is necessary to keep the school going. Anyone who has been near the school in recent times will quickly discern that there are 101 projects and more outstanding. Recently one year group has decided to expand the East Dining hall, the Achimota Foundation has helped renovate the Assembly Hall (not expand) , another year group has expanded the girls’ gymnasium. There are year group projects in progress and at various stages. I must not forget the Parent Teachers Association for the many projects it has been undertaking for the school. The PTA has recently given the seed money for the start of the security wall around the school. The PTA has been incentivising current teachers with rewards for good performance, aimed at alleviating the many discomforts that they have to endure, while raising the standard of teaching (the teacher – student ratio is appalling!!) .

There should be many more projects and good works, and maybe knowing about them will prove to be the magic thing that will spur the other Akora’s and Akorettes to want to help in their own small ways.

Maybe. We are still searching, but I hope that until we find that magic thing, those who are so minded to do their best for the school will not be disheartened by others not joining in right away. It may happen sooner than you think.

So if you wish to start helping the school now in whatever way suits you best, do so please with a good sense of valuable philanthropy, if you have already been helping, do continue please to give off your best, and never mind those on the side lines. Their time will come.

Blemen Ayekoo.
Akora E. Kwasi Okoh
Chairman
Achimota School Board of Governors.
eko Feb 2012.

News Source : Kwasi Okoh
Last updated at : 30 May,2012
Share this Page
   Add your comment here Comments (0)