Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ghanaians and High School –What’s this Plenty Old-Boy /Old-Girl Matter?


When my classmates and I were about to complete JSS in 1997, as was the practice, we selected 3 secondary schools among all the secondary schools in Ghana and ranked them based our preferences and the school’s perceived academic ranking. Our selections were to determine which secondary schools we’d attend. Depending on how well we performed in our BECE exam, we would be placed into the first choice, second or third choice schools. I chose Wesley Girls High School (Gey Hey), Mfantsiman Secondary School and Apam Secondary School in that order. I’d never met anyone who’d attended any of these schools; If I had, I did not know it. Most of my classmates chose Motown (Achimota Secondary School), and Aburi Girls Secondary School and Presec (Presbyterian Boys Secondary School) so why did I choose Gey Hey? Someone in my class had a sister who’d gone there. That classmate’s opinion counted some to me at the time and she always spoke so glowingly of her sister that I’d somehow accepted that there must be something magical about the school. That was it. I selected the school, got accepted, and spent three years there.

High school was alright. It wasn’t the best time of my life, but it must have contributed to my development. For one odd reason or another-probably my lack of ability to keep friends in general-I haven’t been able to sustain friendships with those with whom I was in Gey Hey, and maybe that’s why I’m not strongly attached to the school. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have some amount of school pride lurking someplace in my bones, but whatever pride exists is not enough to, for example, motivate me to display a Gey Hey sticker on my car. Indeed some of the women I admire most are people who were in Gey Hey at the same time that I was there, yet we hardly interacted while we were in school so they’re not really friends, just people I know and admire. While I admire these women, I’d never created a necessary link between their status as Gey Hey alumnae and the fact that they’re smarter or more interesting or insert some-other-superlative-adjective-here than some other people I’ve encountered.

One of the things which have surprised me most since I’ve been back in Ghana is the pride and enthusiasm with which people here speak about high school. Someone (an alumnae of gey hey) introduced me to another person (who was not) as a Gey Hey Old girl. Gey Hey Old girl? I mean yeah, sure, but of all the things a person could say about me, why that? Or someone would say, she’s very smart but what do you expect, she’s a gey hey old girl. A man visited my office, soliciting business. After we’d talked, and just before he left, he said “I have to ask you this, which school did you go to?” I hesitated because I wasn’t sure whether he meant primary school, secondary school, college or grad school. Knowing Ghana, I said Wesley Girls. His response? “I knew it!”. He said he was an old boy of Mfantsipim School. I smiled politely, thinking all the while, okaaaaaay, what now? This man looked like he was over forty and he was still talking about high school with this much conviction? Wow!

Now I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have school pride but seriously, high school was ages ago! I’ve gotten over it. Why won’t other Ghanaians do the same? I can even understand that if like me, you didn’t grow up in a family of old-girls, then going to Gey Hey might have been an especially important accomplishment for you but hopefully you’ve gone on to do other things that are even more impressive so you don’t need to keep harping on your decade-old accomplishment. I just don’t get it. In town, I see so many red stickers for Mfantipim School, big, bold, and blue stickers for Presec, and the head of the host stickers and school crest for Motown, and people I meet still ask me, this: wey school you go? (tr: which high school did you go to?) It’s as if I could go to the best schools in the world and no one in Ghana would care. All they’d care about is that I went to Gey Hey. What is going on here? Why are we so hung up on the old-boy /old girl matter? As we say in Ga (a Ghanaian language), Ote sukuu yɛ Gey Hey ewɔɔ mini? (tr: you went to Gey Hey and so what?)

*Photo provided by Nii Koney – Odadeɛ ’00

55 comments:

  1. I have a neighbour who went to Wesley Girls--and who likes to display it proudly at the back of her car. She's cool, but the sticker makes me wonder about her confidence--or lack thereof!

    Gey Hey-ers are lucky they're not overtly considered gay; some of my experiences with them make me wonder about their sexuality!:-))

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  2. I was thinking sarcasm all way through half the post when it occurred to me you might actually mean what you had typed out here. Are you for real? A GEY HEY girl who will say “and so what?” to the “I went to Gey Hey” mantra? Esi, you are a collector’s item. You belong in the Louvre Museum, not here.

    I agree that there is a high sense of secondary school pride in Ghana but those ladies from Wesley Girls take it to a completely inane level. Most of them (at least those I’ve met) behave as though the sun shines out of their backsides when, guess what, it doesn’t. I have always wondered what they are taught (or not taught) over there. I have nothing against people showing that they are proud of their school but such pride should always be tempered with moderation and reality. Gey Hey must have been a great place to be for you people but pleeeaasee move on! It is not as if you wouldn’t have made it in life if you hadn’t gone to Wesley Girls.

    (Disclaimer: This is not sour grapes. I have not been bounced by any GEY HEY girl before)

    The widespread loyalty to secondary schools in Ghana could perhaps be explained by two important things:

    a. The fact that secondary school was the highest level of education in our country for so long in our history. For many years, the greatest aspiration of most Ghanaians was to have secondary school education. College/University education wasn’t popular and the secondary schools, especially the more established ones (Achimota, Mfantsipim, Adisco etc.) were in practice, the colleges we did not have. Think of it, about 90% of the members of the parliament of the second republic were alumni of Achimota!

    b. The lack of competition among universities in the country. Unless s/he is like Esi who went to college in abrokyire, a successful secondary school graduate will almost always go to one of three universities in Ghana (UCC, KNUST, UG in ascending order). For many years, it was even one of KNUST & UG. There was/is therefore very little competition among students at the university level. Consider this Esi, if you are a student / alum of Smith, you have to contend with students / alums from Vassar, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, Wellesley etc within just a few hundred kilometres radius. Add that to the other unis / colleges around (Yale, MIT, Harvard, UMass etc) and your job of demonstrating school pride just becomes harder. You can never finish the argument with peers from these colleges to even consider facing up to people from other colleges /unis in the US. How can you therefore have the time / energy to demonstrate just how awesome a tiny school like Gey Hey is? You just have too much on your plate to even remember your high school!

    This is not the situation here in Ghana. We all go to the same university/ies so the differentiator is the secondary school we attend.

    These factors and others such as the “interco” (Ghana NCAA conferences for you), Brillant Science & Math Quiz (honestly this thing ratcheted up all this Odadee nonsense we see), march past & other distinctly Ghanaian things have contrived to create that strong sense of secondary school pride we see around us.

    I don’t know if it is a bad thing or not. One thing I know is, much as I’m proud of my secondary school, I don’t fuss over it. Some tell me it’s because I didn’t attend a good one but I’m not so sure that’s true.

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  3. Esi, I have to so with St. Thomas here. Really, what kind of Gey Hey girl are you? I won't go as far as saying anything about from where they think the sun shines. But, I do know that Gey Hey girls take a lot of pride in their school. What happened to you?

    I can imagine that you were talking about the women of your generation. But, have you met some of the really old school women? I am sure you have. I am always amused to hear these old women go on (and on)about Girls' High School. This "pride" I must guess comes from the fact that at some point, Gey Hey was one of the best if not the best high school in the country.

    Mfantsipim boys are another example of school pride. Even the most shy, reserved alum becomes a different species (as if possessed) when talking about "The School."

    Here, I will admit that I chose to go to Motown. The all girls thing didn't really do it for me. Irony coming up...

    Esi, it will be interesting to read about the common stereotypes that the different high schools have. Hint, Hint.
    I was really surprised when a friend told me that people from my high school (which shall not be named) are known to be elitist and snooty. I know I am very proud of my school and most of the people it has produced. I think it is probably the best (at least a while ago when I was there). But, I don't think I am elitist or snobbish, so either I am in denial or I am the exception.

    On another note, Esi, as a Moho(here comes the irony), I am skeptical about anything a Smithie says. Just kidding here. I like to compare the Smithie/Moho relationship to the Ghana/Nigeria thing. Alone, we are the biggest rivals but God forbid anyone else dares to bad mouth either school/country.

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  4. I wonder where schools like GIS and SOS fall in this discussion? I am an SOS alum myself and I will admit a certain degree of pride but then I am that way about all my schools, starting at Ridge to Amherst. One interesting thing was that I always felt like we were the ultimate outsiders that all the other high schools would bond over and disparage. Our boys were seen as soft and our girls as spoilt....

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  5. It all comes down to nostalgia; when u had the energy and imagination to think to do all the crazy things u dare not try now. To quote my hero, "nostalgia is like stuffing your cheeks with cocaine infused marbles then it makes you say stupid things... to paraphrase my first statement, nostalgia is a mouthfull of balls."

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  6. well, i'm a very, very proud gey hey girl from Wrigley House. We have to be proud of our schools. I don't know what gey hey would be without the support of our precious old girls. If these girls were not proud of their school, they will never contribute a dime to improve the school. I know there's has been a lot of changes in gey hey thanks to our old girls. I think our secondary schools are a big part of what binds us together as Ghanaians and we should be proud of them. Even if I'm 100 years, I will forever be a proud GEY HEY girl from Wrigley( Yellow is a hot color)

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  7. We hate it when you say Achimota Secondary School. It's Achimota School!!!! But you SSS graduates feel comfortable saying such a thing, so....

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  8. So nostalgic!
    I don't particularly have any cognitive itch when it comes to the good ol' days at school.
    Great post as always, Esi.

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  9. @Nana Yaw...Point noted. But as there is Achimota nursery school, Achimota Primary School (APS), Achimota JSS, Achimota Secondary School and Achimota Extra Classes:), don't we need some way to distinguish them? If I call it Achimota School, how is one to know which of the schools i'm referring to? Even in the good old days when you were there, there must have been some way that you told them apart. Please share.

    @Anonymous, i feel a small thrill when gey hey is on the front page of the daily graphic for being the best secondary school in Ghana and i've often wished that they'd win the brilliant science and math quiz sometime just to shut Presec up. I'd gladly support the school in cash or kind because much as i sometimes criticize the school, it was a good place to study and the network isn't bad either. It's just the kind of in-your-face, i'm a gey hey girl so bow down for me attitude that some of us have that i'm questioning. More important, I question it because I feel that the school failed me in certain respects. For a school to be truly great, it has to add value and i feel that for me, the value added (aside from in academics) wasn't *gasp* all that much. I didn't realise this till much later...by the time i finished gey hey, i too felt that i was God's gift to the world when in retrospect, i really wasn't. We should be confident to pursue our dreams, yes, but when we have nothing to boast of and still boast, there is a problem. Please correct me if i'm wrong but many of us are so drunk on the i'm a gey hey girl thing that we make it seem like wo aanko geyhey, a, then wo nnyE person. Meanwhile the gey hey too, i no dey see say ibi ahiaa...For me, i'll make gifts to the school not because i'm exceedingly proud of it but because i see many things wrong with it and would like to right those wrongs! This isn't just about gey hey though. I know many odadees who go on and on about their school. Please I used to go for vacation classes there (I highly recommend this and will send my kids there; It was great for networking...some of my best friends are people I met at that time even though I didn’t learn much. haha!) , and let’s just say I didn’t only meet smart boys. lol. It's great to celebrate the top 2% who make it to MIT and med. school in Ghana, but if you think of the very big chunk of average students in the middle and the F in chains at the bottom, suddenly Presec seems like a school with promise, yes, but needs a great deal of work too. I'd like us to balance addressing these problems with celebrating the successes instead of always going on and on about the few odadees who would have made it anyway even if instead of Presec, they'd gone to Benso secondary school.

    @Emmanuel, gey hey is lucky that people don't associate the school with homosexuality? I'm yet to meet a publicly gay geyhey girl but i don't think that that would take way from the school at all. Heck, any school in Africa that's progressive enough that its gay members can come out is doing something right if you ask me. What do you think?

    @St Thomas, word!

    @TweetyJill, I think gey hey has been declared the best high school in Ghana for the last three (?) consecutive years and I am proud of that but I don’t feel it necessary to wear a geyhey badge:)

    Oh, you went ahead to tell us that you went to motown then proceeded to say you wouldn’t tell. haha! Oh back when i was in geyhey, i conducted a survey among the women in my class. I asked them which boy school they liked the best and guess which school won? Motown followed by Presec before Kwabotwe! Ibi like then gey hey girls dey check ur boys o. I was dating a motown boy at the time so u naa...u for know. haha. I’m still dating a motown boy turned SOS boy. I’ve never thought of Motown as snobbish though i’ve heard people say that you people try to do abrofosEm. Last year when JOYFM was inviting old students into their studio, everyone was singing jama and Motown nkoaa wanted to play chess and scrabble:) Yes,i get the hint. As for Moho and Smith, we’re one blood. Seven sisters forever!

    @Janice, SOS and GIS, you people are believed to be too dadabee for your own good. Can you even shii jama? One person’s school fees alone can feed the whole gey hey:) I hear that back in the day the school fees was subsidized and some people even got scholarships so even egya bas (tr: poor people’s children) could go to SOS but these days...not so. Also, SOS had produced some great people but you people take the best students from the best JSS’...you’re basically taking the people who would have gone to the gey heys and the presecs and then shipping them abroad into the top universities. One wonders if the value added is worth the school fees and if the school needs to be closed down for its contribution to brain drain. Another of my beefs with SOS people is that some of you have rich parents and yet you’ll end up getting the need-based full scholarships to go to the Carletons and the Amhersts. When that happens, it means a truly stellar and needy person does not get that money. Not fair. I hang out quite a bit with SOS kids. They’re alright but they tend to stick to each other and not widen their circles. Let me give u an example. This christmas, i was hanging out with some SOS kids along with some non-dadabee school kids. Then another SOS person joined, said hello to the rest of us, and spent the entire evening catching up with the SOS crowd. I see this as a weakness rather than a strength because the person missed an opportunity to get to know other fabulous people from other schools. You’re a great bunch but you’re also a small bunch so branch out small... broaden your horizon:) stop the in-breeding:) The other thing is, since y’all go abroad, the few in Ghana are not able to rep. So I don’t think you’re known yet as a force here at home. I may be wrong though. When i go to ecobank, all I see is a sea of gey hey faces and that lone SOS kid:) But you’re a young school, you’ll get there.

    @Posekyere, thanks, mate. wey school you go? haha!

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  10. Rite on the head. The thing is ( and this is my observation) that most Ghanaians do this bcos, they had a lot of fun and did crazy things in sec. school. Currently they lead boring lives and have nothing much to look forward to.

    In short they’ve led the best part of their lives by the time they reach the tender age of 30! Which is a shame, life doesn’t have to end when you finish sec. school. It goes on. Take a break, travel around Gh, ect. I attended Presec, I enjoyed it and have fond memories, but one thing I always refuse to do (sometimes I find this difficult) is to engage in the argument- my skul be pass ur own or the kind. Gh’s obsession with this is something else. Pride is good but not obsession. So next time somebody tries to engage me in their argument I’d say’ get a lyf!.

    By the way, Esi please allow me 2 use ur illustrious platform to make an announcement: Fellow bloggers, please check out my blog, and let me know what u think –( I’m a nino blogger by the way). U can find me amongst the followers of Esi’s blog Nii Ayi. Thx.

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  11. You're so wrong. Even in the GOOD OLD DAYS, there was just Achimota School. There was no Achimota Primary School. It was the Achimota School Primary Department etc etc (I should know).

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  12. Esi, who's sister?:-)
    I display a sticker on my car only because I want to support the school. Same reason I wear T shirts printed "Ghana". Its not about confidence(you know I have enough to go round and some. hehe). I do it just for the support.
    You see, I think everyone should have the opportunity of leaving home(I mean Ghana), travel a bit(don't do the Ghanaian thing of having only Ghanaian friends), and you will learn more and realise that what you have or had, your life experiences, etc, aren't all that they are cut out to be. You realise you are not that great after all, only a big fish in a small pond.
    Its a humbling process. I only wish more people could have it. But sayng that, I wish you could understand that for some people, the greatest thing they have done is their secondary school. Or they simply are proud of it even if it was decades ago. For others, its just playful banter to do the "school rivalry" thing. But, have a big heart and contain it all.;-)

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  13. i am proud old girl of wey gey hey. finished in the late 70's. the school then was very different than it is now and we really had a lot of fun and did look forward to going back after holidays. during my time ghanney was the headmistress and the culture was liberal not conservative as it is now esp. since our same old girls took over as heads. no wonder esi you did not come back with any fond memories . my daughter is there now and cant wait to leave. but she acknowledges that her academic performance has improved a lot. she wanted to go to motown but one look at the overgrown compound and bad state of classrooms & dorms compared to the relative neatness and order at wey gey changed her mind. the state of our sss schools are dreadful and for a school like wey gey hey its the old girls who contribute to keep it going thats why there is so much noise from them. take a achimota school the old students make a lot of noise but do not help the school on that kind of scale. a lot of them have sent their kids to the SOS & TIS and do not care much for achimota.

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  14. @Nana Yaw. You win. Even if it sounds silly, I'm referring to Achimota School Secondary Department:)I swear I have friends who went to Achimota and everyone calls it APS. Are you sure you went to Motown? APS and UPS are like siblings. I'm not exactly a stranger to things motown either, but okay, we'll take your word for it. Achimota School Secondary Department:)

    @kayna5. I'm not telling:)
    Gyama you have a gey hey sticker ehu? lol. You make a good point with the Gh. t-shirt analogy.

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  15. Eish! As for these 'too-known' Motowners. My grandmother went to Motown and she referred to the primary school as Achimota Primary...real talk

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  16. ei, is this Janice here Janice Dj from Amherst class of '07? So this is where you have been hiding! Ma nnipa enti wo nka, wai; I'm glad you're well.

    I will admit I freely let go of this old girl thing years and years ago - the day I took off the last item of green and yellow clothing. I always felt like an outsider at gey hey, never good enough to be there, and while I do have some good memories of the place (interestingly enough they seem to always involve pain and suffering of some kind - and yes, sharing a scrubbing punishment can be hilarious in retrospect) I think I would have been fine anywhere else that offered a decent education. I don't get all the fuss myself, especially because it doesn't seem to pertain so much to academic training as to some other b.s. about learning to be the "ideal lady" or whatever, that I don't really get.

    And who/ what is Odadee?

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  17. Hey ABP, How goes? I am around ooo...

    @ Esi
    Yes the in-breeding of SOS kids can be rather intense...
    We have developed very intense bonds because there are so few of us. Not to mention that when you guys bond over certain things from SSS we have no clue what you are talking about and may feel left out.

    PS. I am mad you explained egyaba...jk..My mom is a proud egya ba who would NEVER let me get too big for my britches...lol

    PPS. I think that more people are beginning to look towards home than is obvious. I think we are focused on getting our grad degrees after which it is homeward bound for quite a few of us

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  18. Tsk, Tsk Esi,

    I did say I "chose" Motown. Referring to that process you go through at the end of JSS. I didn't actually end up going.

    But thank you for saying all the nice stuff about my alma mater. Usually, all I hear is the dadabee stuff. And even that is over rated. Trust me, I will take shito and gari any day over juice and cookies (that's all we were allowed). Lucky me, I got in when everything was highly subsidized and left before I run my parents bankrupt. And I did appreciate all the need base fin aid that I got for college. I needed it.

    I do hear you on our being exclusive though. Beyond accusations of elitism and snobbery, that is the most popular. You (and others) have made me more conscious of this issue and I will try not to fall into that trap (not too often anyway). Working on broadening my horizon Madam. As for the inbreeding, I say that myself. LOL. You don't know how many people I know have married school mates, or friends of school mates or siblings.


    On brain drain, that made me laugh out loud. I think the plan is to go get the knowledge and come back and serve Africa (at least that's what our motto says). That's my plan at least. And yes, we do know how to shii jama! GIVE ME 3 AND HALF. HEEE, HEEE, HEEE, HE...LOL.

    Esi, you make my lunch hour fun. Thank you!

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  19. wow Esi,
    some memories neva fade...
    that pic is a supa one! now i see that while all the other school guys and gals are busy about something or nothing... the peters guy is taking it all easy... that's just where we come in... "in a class of our own"!

    LMAO... I have a great friend who was at adisco and now i wonder whether he too ever had it rolled up like that... and true, trust me, those two love birds at the 'exit' make me feel like going somewhere now...

    woman, wo ye bue!

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  20. @AB-P, Odadeɛ is a Presec alum. You'll notice that because Koney (the guy who supplied the cartoon) went to Presec, only the Presecan seems to know the answers to the exam questions:)

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  21. Esi, high school was indeed years ago but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't show some school pride if your heart so desires. The Ghanaian schools which are considered the “best" are good not just because they have bright students or good teachers- they also have former students supporting them with resources that help the schools provide a sound education. This is comparable to how people feel about their colleges in countries like the U.S. The "best" schools are those which have alumni who are proud of their schools and support the advancement of them. Like someone else mentioned there are only so many colleges in Ghana your going to Legon is no big deal- half of Ghana went to Legon, lol. So instead people save their devotion for their high schools. True, some people go a little overboard but a lot of the time I think it’s all in good fun.

    As for me, I grew up with my dad telling me I was going to Gey Hey. Whenever Archie came to visit the states, my father would tell her "My daughter is coming to your school". It was my destiny :-). And I will not lie, I really enjoyed the time I spent there. @ giftfate, it’s true the school has changed a great deal since what I’ve heard it was like through when girls were really encouraged to be free thinkers. I think that’s in response to the increased academic pressure placed on students and I think it’s a global problem. I will say that many of my friends who absolutely hated while they were there look back fondly (though I have some who still hate it :-P).

    I’ve said way too much but I will end with something a cousin of mine said to me. Her mom is a Gey Hey old girl and though she’s never lived in Ghana the DC area is full of old girls so she’s heard lots about the school. She went to Ghana last December and got a chance to visit the school and when she returned she told me “I would have loved to have been a part of such a great family”. I think that sums up people’s pride in their high school- it’s like being part of another family. Even if you don’t keep in touch with anyone you went to school with, it’s nice to know that you share a common bond with them.

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  22. At the risk of being redundant, I have to agree with the other SOS people. We tend to get isolated early because our academic year is slightly offset from that of other schools and we miss out on a lot of the inter-school bonding activities. Add to the fact that we're a very small school and many of our alums end up in the same geographic areas.....we tend to build very strong bonds that dont always loosen appropriately.......hence the ridiculous level of inbreeding :)

    JD what's up? fellow HGIC '03 er here
    sorry, just had to demonstrate bonds that dont loosen etc........ :)

    Anyways, I suspect that much of the school pride developed from the days when secondary school meant 7 years of growing up and living with a set of people. That must have generated some seriously strong bonds, and the idea of family and pride in that family must have been passed on to subsequent generations. I wonder how or if it'll change over the next few decades.........

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  23. I am a solid old boy of Presec, the centre of nerdtastic upbringing in all Ghana.
    Enjoy your day, mate.

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  24. A quick word of support for Nana Yaw's point: There is no question that it's Achimota School! In my day we did refer to the primary department as APS, but you need to get it right when talking about the secondary department: no qualifiers are needed; it's Achimota School! :)

    School pride is like patriotism, or love for your 'hood, or coast (West Siiide!): it makes no rational sense when you think about it, but it seems to be a fundamental way in which human beings make sense of the world and their place it it. An evolutionary adaptation? Maybe. But I can assure you it's not going anywhere anytime soon!

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  25. Esi, more props for this one.

    I went to Motown and I must admit that, even though I have very fond memories of my time on "the outlaw's hill" over a decade ago, I feel a little embarrassed when Akoras boast about the school these days. HAVE YOU SEEN THE STATE OF THE SCHOOL LATELY??? If you love your school (and this does not only apply to Motown), donate money or champion a project to improve it; don't just put a sticker on your car and call it a day.

    PS: @Earthkwaque...go blue!

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  26. Whooo! took a while to read through all of those. I went to AIS myself, and I think that even though our school year was pretty much the same as that of the Public Secondary Schools, we were still cut off like the HGICs, but probably not to the same extent. I chose PRESEC, but i'm glad i didn't go. I wouldn't have survived it; I was too much of a "Dada B". Not that AIS was a "Dada B" school as a lot of people might assume.
    Anyway, what I wanted to say was that, I can see where the big deal is coming from. That sense of tradition that we see in the Secondary School System is similar to what i saw in the College system when i went to school in the US. There are simply not enough tertiary institutions in Ghana to make that kind of a distinction, or rather not as much competition between them. Not only that; the school you went to, said something about you, i think. It was common for Ghanaians who met for the first time to ask each other "so, wey school you go?" Of course, I would also say that, the strong sense of secondary school tradition and identity has waned over the years, perhaps because that elite stigma attached to many schools has disappeared, or because kids only spend 3 (or is it 4?) years there as opposed to the 5, 6 or 7 years that was the norm in the past. So maybe there is no longer the need to put a sticker on your car, but i think its still cool to identify with your SS. As for me, I'm an AIS boy for life. AKOSEC baby!
    By the way, the cartoon provided by the Presec man is spot on, especially the bit with the Prempeh and OWASS boys. Good stuff.

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  27. Esi. I don't really mind the post. But the image u used, I dont like the part where Accra Aca, has pulled out a knife, Bleoo boys are not like that. Any Bleoo boy to back me?

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  28. This is coming from someone who went to gey hey as well AND HATED THE ISH OUTTA THAT PLACE.
    Let's see, 'till this day I speak of that experience as if it happened a week ago. I agree with what most people's notion that gey hey girls do act like the sun does shine outta their punani, etu mpo nfa ni hu dzi (forget about it shining outta their derrieres).
    I started gey hey when i was barely 14 and that could have been part of my adverse experience there. I made mention of the reasons why i hated gey hey and left before i could graduate in the '99 facebook year group and my ass almost got chewed (Virtually on cyberspace of course) by the gung-ho "Old girls". Like you, maame esi, I had no prior relatives who went to gey hey, my mom spent most of her academic life in london and my pops went to high school in Kingston, JA. I went to gey hey because my aunt who raised me thought, geez you're smart, gey hey is the place for ya. Needless to say I have no school pride because of the following:
    1. That place was hella cliquish,I mean you shd expect that putting all whole bunch of girls together but the whole thought of "A-GIRLing" was nauseating and I always questioned the sexuality of many.
    2. Still in reference to one and the weird r/ship between older girls and younger girls, I saw some serious girl-on-girl action in those no-doors bathroom one too many times (Gosh I hated that, no sense of privacy!!). I have nothing against any type of sexual preference but I was scarred (slightly exaggerating) at an early age. Gosh my young virgin ears and eyes!!

    3. Mal-nutrition: I think in '96-97, i was paying about 35,000 a term to go there. i could be wrong, all i knew was that was one heck of money back then to be eating gaso and kenkey every night and splitting a medium-sized fish amongst 15 girls at a table. I wont go into the food poisoning that happened one day from them using contaminated turkey for the special "sunday jollof rice and turkey joint". I wont diss the Konto-beans and rice, I loved that ish; actually that was the beginnings of my vegetarianism...

    3. Scrubbing gutters, nastyass toilet bowls, seriously algae-infected bathrooms with toothbrushes, fully clothed in uniforms, enough said. I still have my knuckle and Knee scars to prove it. Awuradze, one more year of that and I woulda died. Bright side of that, lets see hmmmmmm, nope, none, nada. (Call me a baby, I was too young for that shyyyyyyt)

    4. If you didn't go to any of the popular primary schools (ridge church, morning star, martin de porres, etc) with excessively rich parents, you weren't ish! All high schools even the one I transferred to in the States are all popularity contests but gey hey took it to a new level. Someone foul me on this but that's all I saw.

    3. Excessive punishments and older girls taking advantage of others with no accountability. Personal experience, this girl, I still remember her like it was yesterday, made my life a living hell b/c I just happened to be one the girls who didn't offer to iron her uniforms before the lights went out. I became chronically depressed for 3 months str8 with sporadic crying spells with self-starvation Nkwasiasem akwa akwa akwa

    5. Academically, I wasn't challenged, I left gey hey the very first week of my second year for the States(best day of my mothershutyourmouth life!!!) I didn't know how to write basic research papers, WORSE, NO ONE EVER BOTHERED TO TEACH ANYONE ABOUT THE SIMPLE CONCEPT OF PLAGIARISM AND HOW TO CITE CRAP!!
    Don't get me wrong, I was not a dumb kid ( Afterall, I did get 12 ones to get in that place, for whatever the hell those exams proved) and my grades weren't bad or anything but dayum, I didn't learn anything ASIDE FROM ROTE MEMORIZATION OF THOSE BLACK SCIENCE BOOKS.

    6.Okay, I also thought it was not a very receptive grounds for cultural, social, tribal diversity. The "Accra kids brought their capital-city bull and the Kumasi-kids thought they were all mini yaa Asantewaas" and everyone else from other regions didn't quite count. I was well aware it was a methodist school but ummm can a sista attend the school if she happened to be Muslim??? (Oh there was one Muslim chick by the way, remember the face but can't remember the name, I always wondered how she felt??).

    7. Okay, I could go on and on but I have one thing to be thankful to gey hey for...It gave me the opportunity to pick up my first field hockey stick (an all time favorite sport). I continued to play through out my other school in the States for the following three years and college. Got some scholarship money outta that joint too, so thanks Ms. Wofessor for making me run miles (another habit that stuck with me).

    I dragged this long enough but I ALSO, A FORMER GEY GIRL WOULD LIKE TO SAY, "YOU WENT TO GEY HEY AND SO WHAT...
    Oh by the way, I have been told I never attained "old girl" status since I left LMFBAO! If only that would pay my bills but I will gladly help out gey hey any day, in cash and kind just because they "EDUMACATE" young black women to become snotty gey hey girls out of who's punani, gold is mined!!

    I'M OUT, DEUCES!!

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  29. Wow Gee, tell us how you really feel. I'm sensing some bitterness......

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  30. Oh i forgot, I MADE SOME OF THE MOST AMAZING AND REAL FRIENDS that I have kept in touch with over an 11 years span!

    And anonymous, whoever you are (coughs, coughs, gey hey girl lol) nah hun, I wouldn't call that bitterness at all, that was my reality for a good year at age 14. Every experience of my life has shaped who I am and I don't diminish any aspect of it, I JUST TELL LIKE IT IS. REAL TALK! I may be biased no doubt but that doesn't make my experience any less valuable than those who enjoyed it on the jail cells of Kakumdo

    I carry controversy on my eyelids, don't take me too seriously.

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  31. Hmm...I actually tend to think that the whole idea of "I'm a Gey Hey girl therefore bow down and worship" seems to be an illusion. None of my siblings went to Gey Hey and I guess my folks were proud that I went to a "prestigious" institution. But then again, they have always been proud of me I guess. I don't mean to sound ungrateful but I never understood some of the regulations in high school. What I appreciate though is that they never let us think that because we are girls we were incable of certain things. Sometimes, I am tempted to think that we were taught to be self sufficient and didn't really need a man to be "complete". Maybe this is where the proverbial Gey Hey girl gets the "I am unique" syndrome from.

    For me, I wish I had studied a lot harder and paid closer attention in class. It probably would not have mattered which high school I went to as long as I studied a lot harder. It is interesting to meet "old girls" and see their reaction when they learn you went to the same school. I am not going to discount my experience in Wesley Girls. I am sure it is a part of what has shaped me into who I am today but I do not attribute my whole existence to that.

    There is also the influence of suggestion or preconceived notions. If you start thinking about the number 2 or the color turquoise, all of a sudden it jumps out to you everywhere you go. If you have been influenced to think Gey Hey girls have a "high and mighty attitude", you will try to find those traits in every Gey Hey girl you see. Cotrary to some people's beliefs, not all Ghanaians are outgoing and make friends easily. Some have social anxiety and keep to themselves if they don't know you. Think about that for a minute.I want to analyze exactly wat this "high and mighty" syndrome consists of. Can anyone help? Ditch those noions and actually get to know one of them. You will realize that you actually might have been wrong.(Sidenote= My goal is to get to know an African American and actually befriend them this year!)

    I think being proud of our schools is a way for us to identify and belong to our society. Shared expereinces create interesting bonds. Ask anyone who was in Commonwealth or Katanga!

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  32. I see say someone post this:

    4. If you didn't go to any of the popular primary schools (ridge church, morning star, martin de porres, etc)

    Martin de Porres is NOT a popular school. It's a syto!

    Esi, this thing dey everywhere. In america, people get jobs because they are harvard alums not because they know anything. People also get jobs because they were in so and so fraternity or sorority. Ghana has secondary schools. Deal with it. Don't bash the system. If you and another person applied for a job and were equally qualified and the person doing the hiring was a Smith alum, you'd get the job. If the position was in Ghana and the person went to Gey Hey, again, you'd get the job. That's what this is. That's the way the world works. Don't pooh pooh something because you don't believe in it.

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  33. @ Janice: at least you went to SOS - oyE mli ni ayaa (you count). I went to lincoln, adn heaven forbid that anyone else apart from SOS or GIS or north Ridge ir Ridge Church had heard from it. (B4 LCS, I was at Ridge Church). So I missed out on all this school pride thing.... not even in college do i have that diehard pride..mebbe its a good thing, but sometimes, i watch those ppl who love their schools so much and wish i could be like that - sometimes.

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  34. Hmm, Bubu. At least you went to Lincoln. You can still hold your head up high even if you can't join in the old school banter. What about the people who went to Kaa Jaano secondary? But for real, Lincoln den you dey enjoy o.I wrote my SATs there, and it was like a sneak peek into America:) Question. What would a lincoln kid do if s/he didn't end up in yankee? Legon? Tech? or maybe now Ashesi? I can't imagine a lincoln kid perching in a room in Akuafo hall with 6 others.lol.

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  35. Actually, quite a few of them end up going to Legon, one or two go to Ashesi,and one of my classmates is in Central University now (but those are only the Ghanaian kids. Their parents were too scared yankee would spoil them even worse than Lincoln did, lol).

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  36. I had an amazing time in GEY HEY but then again i has a super amazing time in ST. Theresa's Sch, (my primary and jss).

    I love schooling, i mean i am still in one. Although i am yet to join any proper alumnae and help organise stuff (i dont get that part, i do have a life after all) I enjoy the fact that i went to gey hey. I think i have managed to convince all the people in my office to take their children to ghana and send them to gey hey, lol.

    For me personally, i made a lot of good friends who i have to still managed to keep in contact with. Especially for someone who didnt go to university in gh, i guess it gives me a sense of belonging. About having a sticker in your car though, isn't because you don't have self confidence, i think it is the same as having a ghana sticker on your car.

    p.s. if anyone has a ghana sticker or gey hey one, could u post me one :-)

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  37. WHY ARE THE AUTHORITIES REFUSING TO GIVE THE MAXIMUM ATTENTION TO OUR EDUCATION.MANY STUDENT AND PARENTS ARE ALWAYS ASKING IF SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL IS THREE YEAR OR FOUR YEAR DURATION .PLEASE I WANT THE AUTHORITIES TO DO TELL US SOMETHING

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  38. The thing is about a sense of belonging n the influence the school has on you.
    According Mr. Manslow a sense of belonging i one of the most important needs of the human being. Its everywhere, just that for most countries its which Uni you were in, for Gh its secondary schools.
    For example, i for one was in class four when my brother entered Presec, it transformed him so much i could swear his blue shirt glowed( which i still believe the Presec shirt still does), i told myself then "give me Presec or give me death". from then my whole life was shaped to make it in, n then to live up to all the illustrious son it had produced.
    I don't begrudge u for not feeling likewise towards your school, but for most people it's the feeling of being associated with all the greats that have walked the same hallowed halls as you.
    it creates a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood that transcends age, tribe bloodlines or religion.
    Plus after being to a few old boys meetings myself, realized that for most of the old men when they have achieved all they wanted to, are on retirement and have "arrived" all they then desire is to find a place where they can find that brotherhood, and with who best than those you spent your formative teen years with, and for most of those old folk remember that it was a 7 not three year period like it is with us.
    now think if you enter at 12 and spent seven years, thats all of your adolescence. naturally you are bound to feel attached to the place

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  39. OK, while I side with the people who don't like (especially Gey Hey) old students who act like their "i'm from this school so bow down to me" - I gotta say, if u got it, flaunt it.

    Dunno about some of y'all, but I'm proud of the schools I've been in, and I'll let u know, whether u'd like to bow down or not :) Y'alls have your own opinions, and are completely entitled to them. We have our own sources of pride.

    People are in various ways reppin' all kinds of things; some wearing it on their bloody sleeves! Among other things: homosexuality, virginity, Wey Gey Hey, Oxford University, Philly, Adabraka, Ewe, American, etc Why should it 'pain' u?

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  40. I think the high school thing is particularly strong with people who were there for 7 straight years. That is a whole lifetime in my eyes. 7 years in boarding school! A huge part of your life and your personality and your experiences will be drawn from that.
    I was at Gey Hey for 3 years, and I was never really the typical Gey Hey girl. I rebelled alot, because I basically don't like rules. But being there for 3 years to me was just fine. If I was there 7 years, then I might be like that 40 year old man. We just have to know that with the older generation, a huge chunk of their young lives was spent in one school, so its ingrained in them. School was everything.
    I have to say though, I am pretty proud I went to Gey Hey. But trust me, I am even happier that I was there for only 3 years!

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  41. I just found this blog and its taking up my whole afternoon in a very good way. I complety agree with you Esi on the highschool pride in Ghana among the "elites". Personally, I learned so much about life in my high school(Swedru Secondary) than any of my former Achimota primary mates. My academics might have not been that great but the social skills and self confidence is something to boast about.

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  42. Hi Nana, glad you found us. Welcome to the blog. Visit often and come laugh with us.

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  43. wow, this is really a hot topic. Like Nana, I've only discovered it and I can't help but laugh at some of the comments and try to identify who wrote what. Esi, you could just have made the topic "why go to Gey Hey" it seems that's what everyone was talking about. And it was funny how the "old girls" all came to the rescue. @Gee, I liked your story, I always wondered why you left now I know. Sorry you had such a terrible time. It's good to know it was not all doom and gloom. If going to GeyHey eventually paved the way for you to get scholarships then it wasn't all bad. You were very good with the hockey stick and I admired that. Well there you have it, when you think no one is watching someone actually sees you.

    This has been very insightful and I wish more people would find it to share their thoughts. I have wondered about why people made such a fuss about their secondary schools but I guess I have my answers now and it makes sense. It's all about bonding and networking eventually.
    I've met people who thought I went to Holyco or Motown, I didn't know where to be offended by that or pleased. Offended because they didn't think I was a Lady enough to be an Gey Hey girl or pleased because they didn't think I was snobbish and snooty enough to be the same. It always turned out that they were surprised to find I was a GeyHey girl because I wasn't snooty enough. They probably were just being kind or polite. Eventually it didn't matter because my best friends were not GeyHey girls. I'm proud of my school and proud to be associated with it, but as everyone says, there's no need for all the hulla ballon and fanfare about being from a particular school. I don't think I've done anything for the school yet and in the big world, unless you meet lots of Ghanaians in your travel, no one cares that you went to a certain school, they don't even know it. It pains me about that. In a bid to promot "Brainy Beuaty" I hang my GeyHey crest in my falt, but no one even ever asked what is that for. What a waste of space that was - although it did a good job of taking up space on my bare wall.

    I think secondary school forms the platform where you shape and charter a course for yourself, having the opportunity to do that in a place where there's lots of structure, discipline and good guidance is very helpful. To those who think Gey Hey was all about horrible things, it's a pity because if you allow yourself a bit of time to think you'll find some bright spots from your stay there. For those who think the sun and moon shine because of them because they went to the best schools (not necessarily GeyHey) sorry to burst your bubble cos there is always someone better than you out there. Plus I don't think a true achiever is one who broadcasts what they have done, you will know one by what thy are doing.
    Live Pure, Speak True, Right Wrong and Follow the King.

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  44. lol- I went to Morning Star and left after JSS 1. I wish i had stayed and completed my BECE. I would have chosen Wey Gey. For the simple Fact , i love academics- lol. I always admired the pride former students of Wey Gey have. MOTOWN always seemed too Daadabe for me. They were always partying- my brother went there. He is Briliant though, but for me it was Wesley Girls.!!

    Esi you must confess, the school has produced most of ghana's inspiring women- like your Self--Aint that someting to be proud off???

    I guess i was encouraged by their sheer brilliance.

    Hehe. Looking back, i do not know if I was Brill enough, but i was a fighter!!!!!
    Woulda Shoulda Made it!!!!

    I do agree- it is pretty sick and sad to be so cliquey- in ghana and elsewere people judge you based on the skool you attended. In England- if you did not go to UCL, Kings, in London, then you are nothing ( lol) Cambridge and Oxford is a different league all together. They are called the Russel Something group or the other ( exclusive unis)

    An article i read recently about a boy who almost died from Bunjy( cannot spell the damn word- i need dictionary.com) jumping to celebrate his 2.2 Bsc in Engineering from Cambridge.

    No 1- a 2.2 (for any job, not good enough) but just because he went to Cambridge- He has hope/ Opportunity!!! sad. ( makes me wonder about my self- i need to open my mind) Cambridge enti den!!!

    For me, Wey Gey only because of assurance of a better eduction.

    So whether you like it or not- Skool gye din. I bet your parents are proud of you. !!!!

    Funny though- People who really enjoy life and are making big bucks are those give their best.

    I wish i went to the exclusive ones though!!! It must be nice ot be among great thinkers.

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  45. Esi, I wrote a 3-page response to your blog lol. Yes, that's how much I detest Gey Hey. Fortunately, it's too long to post. I was there myself for less than a year and was thankful to leave. I love that you wrote this blog.
    Miss Gee, I more than agree with you. I also saw a response you wrote to a discussion that the 99-year group had put on their facebook page. It was posted in 2008 but I stumbled on it only weeks ago while searching the internet. The key words brought up sections of the comment which included my name so I just had to see it!
    What NONSENSE! I wanted to respond to it but then your response was more than comforting. A true sight for sore eyes! Well said there and here as well. "NKASIASEM akwa kwa kwa" ampa!

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  46. Nice one being wanting to talk about some like this for minute. In the states you see ppl with stickers of the colleges or grad school they went to on they cars also. In GH. the universities are not that many(at least they werent that many some time ago) like in the states,the high schools are numerous and some have great traditions. It feels rather cool to put a Kwabotwe sticker or Odade3 sticker on your windshield to let everyone know what high school you went to than a UG or Technokrat sticker cos ppl can pretty much guess what college you went to easily.unless you were in a fraternity in college(by fraternity i mean Vandals,Mariners,Katangese etc) then you put that fraternity's sticker on you windshield too.

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  47. Im a Kwabotwe man and I will ONLY marry a DEBU girl. They are made for us they are perfect for us I tried all the girls Holy Motown etc believe me if you go to Kwabotwe then NOTHING but Archies beauties will do.

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  48. It's a beautiful tradition (probably) unique to Ghana. It obviously makes a lot of people happy, so I say why ever not! I went to Achimota School (Yes, it should be said this way and nothing else lest it sounds like a syto school) and I have so many fond memories I can't imagine having gone elsewhere. I am also very proud of my school, its achievements and its products. So it was in the past, but if it provides a networking platform, a source of endless nostalgia and genuine pride, I say we carry on with all this high school pride.

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  49. Interesting discussion! Gey Hey pride comes from the fact tat the school has been academically on top over an extended and sustained period -- including serving as the largest pipeline to Legon and with grads who've done very well in the US at least. When I was at Gey Hey (graduated early eighties), I do't think we were seen as "snobbish" -- certainly "too-known" but there's a difference. The other thing is that we actually had quite a few girls from "non-traditional" primary schools -- that was the beauty of Gey Hey -- grades and qualifications mattered more than who you know, so if you could cut the musatrd, you had a good chance of getting in (even over old girls' daughters). We all know classmates daughters who couldn't get in.

    So am I proud to have gone to Gey Hey You betcha (with apologies to Sarah Palin)! Just as I'm proud to have gone to Harvard. In both places, I learnt a lot about myself, was encouraged to do my best and established a network that is still helpful personally and professionally today.

    By the way, I have diaspora friends from countries as diverse as Cameroon, Ethiopia, Jamaica and the UK, who take pride in their secondary/high schools and have active alumnae associations to support them.

    I think it wold be more interesting to understand why schools such as Gey Hey have been able to do well at educating girls for so long academically and how we can replicate this across a broader spectrum of schools.

    For the person(s) that had a bad experience in Gey Hey, sorry to hear that.

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  50. so in this interesting discussion Kumasiano schools and Watonchini Seconday or Asankaragwa Secondary Schools dont count anaaaahhh?????

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  51. The author of this blog sounds like she did not have a memorable time whilst she was at Gey Hey.

    The selection process for entry has always been competitive. The young ladies are taught how to achieve academic success and to be the best in everything. They are also groomed to be highly independent. Some are perceived as snobs.

    Pride comes before a fall. Many are not willing to compromise or settle for mediocrity. It can be difficult to find the right men to match some of the ladies when they leave university.

    Some of them become "masculine" in their outlook and some compete with the men in what is a man's world. That makes their rivals resentful. Some can be inflexible and unwilling to bend or compromise.

    They may be high achievers, yet some of them do not have the requisite life skills or cultural understanding to make "good" wives or have sustainable relationships with the typical Ghanaian man who probably wants a less articulate, more subservient woman.

    Many of the girls, years after they have left school, are single, single parents, divorced, struggling in unhappy relationships or still searching. That is seen as a flaw in our society where to be seen at social functions without a man constitutes failure. Many women would rather be second or third wives than be on their own.

    Some are trail blazers all over the world. There has to be a work/life balance.

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  52. wow..........what can i say....except i'm disappointed about the fact that some of us are not so thrilled to have gone through the system.......but hey,what do i know? I'm only a little girl still going through the system........

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  53. This is high school for God sake!!

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  54. you people talk too much...really?? how old are u all?? am jux 15 and i can c u ppl talkin about unnecessary stuff...pls grow up...btw am not in favour of any1...

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