The King of the Kusaug Kingdom, Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka II, has called for the Bawku Senior High School (BAWSCO) to be restored to its original name— “Azoka Secondary School”.
The punch with which the monarch asked for it was equal to the vim with which he had dedicated himself to a joint search for the uninterrupted peace the once-troubled territory now enjoys.
At the outset, the school was by a public consensus named after his father, Naba Abugrago Azoka I, in appreciation of the negotiation efforts he made decades ago to secure a free parcel of land at Kpalwega, a suburb of Bawku, to accommodate the institution. But a khaki regime, heralded by a 1966 coup d’état, replaced “Azoka” with another five-letter word— “Bawku”— as the junta renamed the school to the displeasure of many.
Many years after the controversial rechristening, the king still looked very, very disturbed about the new name. He felt like a most prized jewel had been rudely plucked away from his crown, and flung far to where he might never find it.
And at the school’s recent 5th Speech and Prize-Giving Day ceremony, he came with a well prepared speech, which he firmly handed over to his long-serving secretary, Naba Akuolug Thomas Abilla, to read aloud to a crowd of senior government officials, celebrated staff, riot-unblemished students as well as alumni of influence and affluence.
“It is to be recalled that for political or other strange reasons, the name of this school was suddenly changed to Bawku Senior High School after the 1966 revolution that ushered in a military regime. A few years ago, the Bawku Traditional Council resolved to petition the educational authorities to consider restoring the old name as had been done to other institutions without justification,” he said.
As many hands punctuated his speech adoringly with emphatic claps, he added: “A response is still awaited. It is just fine that the important educational authorities are present here and can investigate the facts and act appropriately. I believe this time round, political considerations will not be allowed to hold sway over sanity and fair play.”
Rain ‘speaks’ for school on Speech and Prize-Giving Day
It has been widely observed for quite a long time that it rains every market day in Bawku, a much similar observable trend also in the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatanga.
The ceremony took place on a market day. And the rain, to the anguish of all BAWSCO-loving persons, did not disappoint.
As the clouds rehearsed for a heavy burst, strong winds, behaving like a dispatch team sent forth by an impending rain, came down to test the strength of the canopies mounted for the occasion at the school’s football field. But at a point, the uneasy crowd found a brief relief from their grief after the clouds suddenly disappeared and the sky reappeared in a spotless blue like “the screen of a television set tuned to a dead channel”.
Some gave the ‘glory’ to Bawku Naba, whom they believed had ‘spoken’ to the rain to give way for the event. But the Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney General, Joseph Dindiok Kpemka, had barely finished his own speech when the clouds, accompanied this time by stronger winds, made a U-turn on its way to nearby Burkina Faso and returned to Bawku to prove all doubters right with a full outburst.
So deafening was the pounding downpour that the Upper East Regional Minister, Rockson Ayine Bukari, himself appeared not to hear his own words as he read his keynote address with extra vigour from under a roofed terrace at the football field. And so charitable was the shower that there was probably no single drop left in the skies after just two hours of unstoppable disruption that saw canopies blown apart and the iron rods, which held them, fallen on one another. Exposed to the cold under the surviving canopies, some of the students clutched their shoulders with crossed arms as their teeth repeatedly knocked together.
BAWSCO is one of the few second-cycle schools in the region with a very vibrant old students’ union— the Bawku Old Students Association (BOSA). The union has given, and has continued to offer, so much to its alma mater. Even on that speech and prize-giving day, the alumni in attendance dropped quality banknotes individually in the treasury as the school appealed for fund.
But, with the heavy downpour turning the open-air grounds upside down, overshadowing the event and exposing the school in front of rare guests, the rain seemed to have added its voice to the school’s decades-long appeal to government and, perhaps, the alumni also for a befitting assembly hall. Constructed in the late sixties, the assembly hall can hold just 300 people. The event could not have taken place there with the school’s student population currently at 2,251 along with the number of the staff and the guests around.
Plights, Pleas and Pledges
The Headmaster, Bismarck Simon Kpuli, and the Senior Prefect, Edmund Akolgo, were united in their separate speeches with calls for attention to some challenges said to have plagued the school for years.
They included an outmoded dining hall, an assembly hall with limited space, a deplorable road network on campus, an abandoned toilet construction project, dilapidated staff quarters and dormitory blocks, inadequate supply of water, a scanty stock at the library and limited classroom furniture among other dilemmas.
Whilst placing emphasis on discipline as “the bridge between goal and accomplishment”, the Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney General, who is also an alumnus, also urged the students to continue to co-exist peacefully both inside and outside the campus. He pledged to provide the school with a mechanised borehole between July and August, this year, and to donate in July, this year, three sets of jerseys to the school’s football team.
Moments after he had spoken to the theme for the event, which was “Discipline, Hard Work and a Peaceful Environment— Prerequisite for Academic Excellence”, the Upper East Regional Minister tasked three assemblies that surrounded the school— the Bawku Municipal Assembly, the Binduri District Assembly and the Pusiga District Assembly— to address the concerns raised by the school without delay.
That announcement brought joy to the crowd. And it showed after the dignitaries had left the grounds. Excited students poured into the rain-soaked arena, took full custody of it and danced the cold away— thanks to the rhythms mixed by a very young student who demonstrated he was born a disc jockey, not a disc joker.