ZION COLLEGE ? THE FIRST FIFTY (50) YEARS

1937-1987. A BRIEF HISTORY

Zion College which started off as the New Africa University College has undergone a number of changes in name. In addition, the college has passed through a number of interesting phases including changes in management, locale, syllabi etc.

It was in response to the acute need for facilities for post elementary education in the territory that in 1937, the New Africa University College was established. By 1935 there were some 164 church Elementary schools in what is now the Volta Region of Ghana. But opportunities for further education were extremely slim. There was not a single secondary school in the entire Ewe territory. This was the void that the Rev. F.K. Fiawoo decided to fill in 1937.

In 1933 Rev. Fiawoo returned from the U.S.A. where he obtained degrees in Arts and Divinity and a certificate in Education at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had also been ordained as a minister of Religion. Rev. Fiawoo became exposed to the system of vocational and academic education in vogue in the U.S. Black Colleges and Universities. When later he looked for a model on which to base his own effort at providing education, it was the American pattern than he adopted.

In 1936, he and a colleague Rev. I.D. Osebutey-Aguedze, another alumnus of Johnson C. Smith University founded a secondary school ? the Gold Coast People?s College at Adidome in Tongu Territory. But the partnership did not last long and in 1937 Rev. Fiawoo left with a crop of 37 students to establish the New Africa University College at Anloga, (the traditional capital of the Anlo state) in the Keta district, Volta Region of Ghana.

NEW AFRICAN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE: THE FIRST ANLOGA YEARS: 1937 TO 1953.

.

The institution was meant to provide both secondary and tertiary education. It was also meant to expose the students to a variety of educational experiences ? vocational, professional and literary. The school was both a day and boarding institution. The boarders were housed in rented accommodation. The school was also to be co-educational. This was at the time when the only co-educational secondary institution in the colony was Achimota ? the ?model? school built at great cost by the colonial government in 1927.

The Founder?s hopes and expectations for the school were represented in the crest and motto devised for the school. The crest consisted of a Bible, a scale and a rising sun. The school motto was "Character, Prudence and equality", and "Cor Unum, Via Una" ("One heart, one way"). Emphasis was to be placed on religious and moral training to produce responsible citizens who would give devoted service to their country.

To generate funds for starting the school, Rev. Fiawoo approached a number of business men who advanced money against the cost of future tuition of their children and wards. Such financiers were called "Foundation Members". For the first twenty years or so of the institution, beneficiaries of the scheme continued to receive education at the school. In like manner after the opening of the school, people of Anloga began to donate land for the expansion of the school in return for which the donors? children were to have free tuition. Altogether about 10 acres of land were acquired by this means.

The New Africa University College opened in October 1937. On the first of February 1938, 44 students were enrolled. By the end of the year total enrollment reached 76 of which five were girls. Such was the faith some parents had in the new institution that they transferred their children from other schools to Nafrico. So Forms I to III were started at the same time. Another remarkable thing was that these pioneer students did not come from the immediate locality alone but from all over West Africa. There were students from Nigeria, Togoland under French mandate, Togoland under British Mandate and within the Gold Coast Colony, from Asante and Fanteland. The non-Anlo students easily outnumbered the Anlo students.

The school had five Divisions. These were Secondary, Commercial, Domestic Science, Vocational and University divisions. The curriculum was "revolutionary" both in form and content. The vocational courses included sewing, tailoring, carpentry, masonry, shoe making etc. while the commercial courses included Book Keeping, typing and shorthand, elements of commerce etc. all of which were intended to cater for a variety of student interests. Each student was required to study at least one vocational course. The academic subjects included English Language, English Literature, Spoken English, Latin, French, Vernacular, General Science, Nature Study, General Intelligence, Hygiene, History, Geography, Logic, Ethics, Argumentation, Debate, Arithmetic, Menstruation, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Drawing and Religious Knowledge. At the regular morning assemblies that preceded formal teaching, besides devotional worship, all students were given moral instructors, lectures on etiquette, and current affairs. Students were expected to take notes and were tested on their assimilation of their subjects of instruction.

The University division prepared some members of the teaching staff who wanted to further their own education for courses leading to the Intermediate and final degree courses in Arts, Science, Law, Divinity and Commerce. A number of the pioneer tutors who were non graduates received instruction at the feet of Rev. Fiawoo to prepare them for their matriculation and Intermediate Arts Examination. In 1945, he himself obtained his PhD from the Mackinlay Roosevelt University in the U.S.A.

Rev. Dr. Fiawoo was assisted by a number of teachers who shared his faith in the new venture. Mr. J.P.K. Seddoh was the Assistant to the President. Following the American practice, the Head of the College was titled the President. Other staff members were Rev. G.K. Paku, Messrs T.K. Kumaku, F. Atiase, Felix Brenya, S.T, Boye and Miss Janet Dzidzienyo. Considering the level of remuneration that these teachers received, there is little doubt that their service was out of devotion to duty, than due to any idea of making a decent living.

 

 

Some others joined the staff to teach and at the same time further their own education. They enrolled in the University division of the College. Messrs Jaja Wochuku, Jonas Wachuku, St. George Ibim, all of Nigeria, Fred. K.A .Jiagge, L.M. Tamakloe, W.Atiase, T.K. Kumaku fell into this category.

Miss Charity Zormelo B.Sc (Home Economics), a graduate of Hampton Institute in Virginia, U.S.A. (possibly the first woman graduate from the Gold Coast) also joined the staff. In May 1942, she married the President and continued to teach until her death in October 1945. Her loss was keenly felt both by the widower and the students. Somehow the school outlived the calamity. A number of former students of the school also later joined the staff to help train succeeding generations of fresh students

A permanent site for the college was acquired at ZIOPE, one mile to the west of Anloga. A classroom block was built and an Assembly Hall started. The ground floor was completed in 1949 and the rest in 1951. Starting from 1949 regular classes were held on the new school grounds.

Conditions at the school, particularly in the early days were quite ?spartan?. Boarding students slept on blankets spread on the bare floor of the dormitories. Later, wooden bedsteads comprising two boards six feet long and one foot wide supported by stands were provided. On the pairs of stands were drilled holes at each and into which four poles could be inserted on which to hang mosquito nets at night. By 1950, as many as eight private dwelling houses had been rented or leased and converted into dormitories for the boarding students. Seven of these houses were in Anloga proper while House Eight was quite close to the actual school grounds. A few students lived either with their parents or other relations in town or on their own, and arranged for their own catering.

The forecourt of one of the dormitory houses, House I, was roofed and converted into a dining hall for all the students in Houses I to VII. Students in House VIII fed in their own house and had to wait anxiously for the slow conveyance of their food by head porterage from the kitchen in House I to them. Many a time, the food, particularly breakfast arrived too late to permit a dignified pace of eating. Students had to ?wolf? the food down if they did not wish to be late for classes.

In all the Houses, self service by students was the order of the day. Junior students cleaned the dormitories, lavatories and surroundings and made the beds. In the dining hall junior students again served the meals and afterwards washed the plates. It was always a big struggle to wash the plates in time and walk quickly to the school grounds in time for morning devotions that preceded classes. In the evenings, when the famous Anloga mosquitoes came out in force it required super human effort to refrain from swatting mosquitoes on the unprotected parts of one?s body with hands begrimed with the remains of palm soup, when one was washing plates.

The Dining Hall also served as the venue for Saturday night entertainment and other functions. Because of the lack of equipment like radio or gramophone and film projectors, students had to provide their own entertainment on Saturday evenings most of the time. These took the form of lectures, debates, singing, drama, magical displays and dancing. The school had a set of orchestral instruments which the students played. The Saturday night functions were not expected to merely entertain, but to also provide training and education. Even Form I students were occasionally required to talk to the entire student body on topics of their own choice. Many a student started acquiring the skill of public speaking this way. The College also organised picnics for the students once a year.

From its inception, the College had been operating as it were on a shoe-string budget. It was, therefore, a measure of relief to the Founder when help came from the A.M.E. Zion Church of which he was an ordained Minister. In 1948 the church decided to offer financial assistance to promote the development of the college. Consequently the name of the college was changed to Zion College of West Africa.

Over the years some of the divisions and courses offered at the college were phased out until ultimately only the secondary division remained. The commercial division survived into the early 1950s and was phased out. Some of the general subjects were also dropped after some time. Ethics, Argumentation, Debate and Logic had been taught right from the beginning. Oratorical contests were held among the final year students from 1940 onwards. But in 1950 this was stopped. Etiquette, Moral Instructions and Current Affairs continued to be taught as non-certificate courses.

The early 1950s were a period of profound changes and developments in the history of the school. In 1952 after an official inspection of the school and the issuing of a favourable report on it, the school became one of the very few private schools accepted by the Ministry of Education as a Government Encouraged Secondary School. This was under the Accelerated Development Plan for Education introduced by the Nkrumah administration in 1951.

1952 also saw the end of Rev. Dr. Fiawoo?s direct administration of Zion College. Since 1937 he had personally run the college and was responsible for its day to day administration. In 1951 he had entered the National Assembly as the member for the Anlo State and had been elected the First Deputy Speaker. He therefore relinquished the headship to the Rev. C.K. Dovlo in 1952. He however remained in close touch with the college. The hostel unit of the college remained under his management until the college became a full boarding institution in 1956. When the Ministry of Education established a Board of Governors for the college in 1954 he was made the first chairman. He retained that position till his death in 1969. Again in 1952, the college shaved off one year from its course. That year, two batches of students ? those in Forms VI and V passed out. Hence forth the college course was to terminate at Form V. That year also saw the last batch of girls, admitted during the first phase of the college, pass out.

 

 

ZION COLLEGE AT KETA (DZELUKOPE/VUI) :

1953 TO 1967

After a period of a little over 15 years stay at Anloga, the college was forced to leave Anloga precipitately and resettle elsewhere. This was the result of the riots that broke out in Anloga in January 1953 over taxes soon after the start of a new academic year. During the riots the administrative offices, official records, Library, personal effects of Rev. Dr. Fiawoo were burnt and destroyed and money looted. The students were panic stricken. Because communication between Anloga and Keta, the District Headquarters to the east was blocked by the rioters, the 305 students had to be evacuated through Anyanui and thence by launch to Ada and to their homes.

The college had to begin from scratch as it were. With the help of some devoted young teachers Rev. Dovlo the Headmaster endeavoured to rebuild the college. Arrangements were quickly made for class room and boarding accommodation at Keta and Dzelukofe and the college re-opened on Friday 6th February, 1953.

The college shared class rooms with the Anlo State School at Kedzikofe. The pupils did one session and closed at 12 noon and the Zion College students used the classrooms in the afternoon. The classroom facilities were inadequate and so some classes were held in a private dwelling house belonging to Mr. A.C.E. Amenumey in the neighbourhood of the Anlo State School. Meanwhile the students in boarding were housed in rented houses at Dzelukofe some two miles away and had to walk to school. On Sundays, they had to walk to the chapel of the A.M.E. Zion at Keta for vespers.

Later, classroom facilities were obtained at Dzelukofe/Vui where a private dwelling house was rented and converted into classrooms. Now the college became fully resident at Dzelukofe/Vui. The Dining Hall which was located in one of the boarding houses doubled as a chapel on Sundays for vespers. It also served as the theatre for entertainment on Saturday evenings. By 1953 the College had ceased to be co-educational. In view of the rather rough and heady conditions at Dzelukofe in the initial stages, it was decided not to admit any girls.

The college succeeded in living down the trauma of the riots and relocation. By this time a number of secondary schools had sprung up in the region at Keta, Ho, Kpando etc. Zion College was able to hold its own against these competitors. Some families continued to send their children there, despite the alternatives provided by the existence of these other schools, and some former students sent their own children there for education. In 1956 the Ministry of Education conducted a general physical check of the school?s equipment, furniture and Library. The official report that was issued declared that the institution deserved the assistance given to it by the government. In 1956 the school became a full boarding institution.

Staff strength remained the same at 15 including the Headmaster. There was however a rapid turn over of staff as the non-graduate teachers left to pursue higher educational qualifications. Only one third of the staff members were graduates. The number of students on roll was 220.

Students? life continued to be vibrant as was demonstrated by the number of societies that flourished. In addition to the existing societies new ones began to proliferate. In 1955 the Red Cross Society was formed. In 1957 and 1958 the Economics Society, Cultural Society and the Debating Societies were also formed. In 1957 a school magazine ? ?The Zion College Magazine? was launched. In a way this was an attempt to recapture the buoyancy of student life during the pioneering days.

Mr. A.G.K. Dzefi who had been a student during the 1940s in the school when there had been a lot of emphasis on cultural activities, now a staff member, founded the School?s Cultural Society. The society aimed at educating members in Ghanaian culture, popularizing and preserving certain traditional practices and values which tended to be ignored by the educated classes. The society?s activities included talks, staging of plays, traditional music, performances in town and on radio.

In 1957 the college reverted to its co-educational status by admitting 13 girls to form 1. As this was on a trial basis the girls were not accommodated in a boarding house. A girls? house was opened in February 1959 with almost all but few girls in boarding. However. all girls became boarders in 1960, with an in-house mistress supervising them.

Nine years after the removal to Keta (Dzelukope/Vui) the college celebrated its Silver Jubilee. During the 25 years of the college, it had turned out just under 2,000 students and had provided good but inexpensive education for a lot of students who would otherwise not have had secondary education. In the words of the Headmaster?s report in 1959 "our fees are still the lowest in the whole of Ghana and ours the cheapest boarding school as far as money is concerned, but not so in the quality of our academic achievements and character training".

 

That this was not an idle boast was reflected in the attainments of the alumni of the College. They were already holding responsible positions in the education, civil service and the professions in a number of West African countries. For example, in Nigeria there was Jaja Wachuku, a very prominent lawyer and politician and who had won a Gold Medal in Argumentation and Debate at Dublin University. In Ghana, there was Rev. S.A.Dzirasa, the first ever Senior Prefect and also first winner of the college prize in Argumentation and Debate (in 1940) who had gone to become an ordained minister, and later a politician and Government Minister ? careers in which his training in ethics and argumentation and debate at school obviously stood him in good stead. Again, amongst the batch of new graduates recruited into the administrative service of Ghana after independence were old boys of the college like E.A.K. Kalitsi and G.K. Nutsugah who were made Government Agents. Others like N.K. Adjakey had risen to top position in the Education service, while some had established themselves as successful lawyers and others were pursuing undergraduate and post graduate courses in Universities in the country, in Britain, Europe and America. Above all, an alumnus (member of the class of 1952) had been crowned the ?Awoamefia of Anlo?: Togbui Adeladza 11, in 1957. It was under his leadership of the Anlo state that the annual celebration of ?Hogbetsotso Festival of the Anlos? was instituted and during the first ever celebration in 1962, with Mr. L.C.M. Seshie as director, students of Zion College of West Africa staged a play ?FIAYIDZIEHE? written by the Founder, Rev. Dr. F.K. Fiawoo.

In 1949, under the inspiration of Mr. L.C.M. Seshie, the Old Nafricans? Association was formed. It went into slumber during the succeeding years but was revived in 1958 in time for the celebration of the college?s twenty-first anniversary celebration. The name was later changed to Zion College Old Students? Association. The Association has since maintained an active interest in the affairs of the college.

In 1962, Zion College witnessed the second change in headship during its 25 years existence. Rev. Dr. Fiawoo the founder had served as head till 1952 when he handed over to Rev. C.K. Dovlo. In 1962 Rev. Dovlo also handed over to Rev. G.E. Fiawoo, a son of the Founder, and also an alumnus of the College who had been Assistant Headmaster till then.

It was during the term of office of Rev. G.E. Fiawoo that the school undertook another momentous move ? this was to return to Anloga. The school ended its sojourn at Keta/Dzelukofe/ Vui in 1967.

THE HOME COMING: ZION SECONDARY SCHOOL. FROM 1967

THE HOME COMING: ZION SECONDARY SCHOOL, ANLOGA.

1967 TO PRESENT

At the beginning of the first term of the 1967/68 academic year the school moved into a new residence at Ziope, Anloga. With the assistance of the Cocoa Marketing Board two dormitory houses, one dining hall and a bungalow were erected for the school. This marked the beginning of yet another chapter in the annals of the school. Since the beginning of the school some thirty years earlier, the boarding students had always lived in private dwelling houses, rented and temporarily converted into dormitories. This had had its drawbacks and in a way hamstrung the development of the school.

The removal to Anloga did not immediately solve all the accommodation problems of the school. At a reunion of the old students on the school premises on the 12th of April 1968, the then Headmaster outlined the difficulties still facing the school. According to him, the greatest drawback was lack of accommodation. Staff houses, science block, extra dormitories, sports field and an examinations hall were yet to be constructed.

Despite the accommodation problems of the period immediately following the return to Anloga, the students quickly shed off the malaise that had begun to affect students? extra curricular activities during the later days of the sojourn at Keta. In the 1967/68 academic year the school students? magazine resumed publication after some two to three years? break. Again, during the 1968/69 year, drama which had been allowed to die out for some three to four years was revived. Under the direction of Miss E.B. Suhre the "Fifth Landing Stage" was staged and taken on tour to Keta, Somanya, Ho, Akatsi and Ada. The cast traveled over 400 miles and performed seven times before a total estimated audience of 2,850 persons.

By now the student population had risen to 342 of which 78 were girls. The girls lived in their own dormitory under the supervision of a housemistress and a number of monitresses. They, however, shared in classes, meals, games and entertainment with the boys. During the weekly general inspections of student dormitories, the girls? hall usually came first with very wide margins. This tradition continued from the Dzelukope/Vui days when girls? boarding house started in 1959.

In 1974 when the Ghana Education Service was inaugurated, a directive was sent out that all second cycle institutions that taught only secondary school subjects should change their name from College to secondary school. Zion College dutifully complied and changed its name to Zion Secondary school. Soon after this, at the end of the 1974/75 year, Rev. G.E. Fiawoo who had been head since 1962 and who had supervised the transfer back to Anloga, retired from the Ghana Education Service. He handed the administration over to Mr. A.G.K. Dzefi, the Assistant Headmaster. In July 1976, Mr. G.E.S. Tamakloe, another alumnus was transferred from northern Ghana to become the new Headmaster.

Student enrolment continued to increase and in 1977 reached the peak figure of 526 of which 334 were boarders. Thereafter, the figure began to decline and with the implementation of the policy of deboardinisation, enrolment dipped further with the 1986/87 figure standing at 424 made up of 291 boys and 133 girls. Of the 424, 162 were in residence.

The lack of rather crucial accommodation has clearly hamstrung the further expansion of the school beyond the dimensions attained during the first forty or so years. The school still lacks staff houses, a Home Science Unit, a Library, Assembly Hall and extra classrooms. The absence of staff accommodation has made it almost impossible to attract and retain young dynamic qualified teachers to man the school. It behoves the past students and friends of the school to pitch in and provide the necessary facilities to revive the great school.

 

PROF. D.E.K. AMENUMEY (CLASS OF 1955)

WITH INFORMATION PROVIDED BY MR. L.C.M. SESHIE( CLASS OF 1942).AND

MR.G.S.S. TAMAKLOE (CLASS OF 1949) AND HEADMASTER (1976 ONWARDS

INCLUDING 1987, WHEN THE GOLDEN JUBILEE WAS CELEBRATED).