MEMOIRS OF A KATANGA HALL SECRETARY.
“WE ARE THE HEART OF UST. KATANGA IS OUR NAME. THE HALL OF REAL INTELLECTUALS. THE UNIVERSITY. A UNITED FAMILY OF BROTHERS, WE REST NOT. ALL HAIL KATANGEES, WE ARE THE GREAT FELLOWS.”
He was subtle, gentle and very confident. He was always neatly and sharply dressed. I remember how he kept his cool when first year students heckled him on the eve of the 2008 hall week because we had not received our hall souvenirs yet. He was Kwarteng, hall secretary for the 2007/2008 academic year.
I worked with him at FOCUS FM as the producer of the morning show he hosted. He was that outspoken and fearless gentleman but very friendly. I campaigned vigorously for him and he became the General Secretary of the UNIVERSITY HALL. He is Abdullah Issah, hall secretary for the 2008/2009 academic year.
This position was one of the very vital positions in the hall and people who have previously occupied it have left very remarkable and indelible footprints. It therefore needed someone who can either live up to expectation or raise the bar to higher heights. Above that, it was a leadership position in a hall whose history and character has not been demystified yet. A very volatile and difficult hall which behaves much like the proverbial radar of a ship; so small but controls the whole ship. This is a hall whose every wish becomes law for the whole university. This is a hall which is admired by most people in secret but spoken of and described so much in bad taste. This is a place where very scary and frightening stories have been attached to leadership positions. Previous leaders have faced all kinds of circumstances from rustication, through extensive security stalking to dismissals. Yet the hall still got leaders every other year. The scariest of all was that for almost ten years now, all of the four core executive officers have never completed their terms of office.
Despite all these threatening facts and figures, I braced all odds and went to pick my nomination form, filled them, submitted them and went through vetting successfully. Then I had to contest for the position of General Secretary with the chief debater of the hall. That was going to be a herculean task. If it had been a mixed hall, I would have slept whiles the ladies campaigned for me, but gosh! This was KATANGA. I walked the breadth and length of the hall with the aid of the most seasoned political strategists on campus at that time. With Martin Acheampong as my campaign strategist, Charles Henderson (Pinocchio) as my campaign manager and the current Hall secretary, Festival Godwin Boateng as my personal manager, victory was assured. As they started counting the votes somewhere in the evening, I had a fair idea of what was waiting for me when some guys who could not resist the temptation of a lady who was shaking it like hot to them pounced on the girl and we had to go to her aid. Surprisingly enough, she was a personal friend. I had to leave for church after that incident when I was fully assured that I was going to win the contest.
After the elections, we were supposed to be sworn into office the following week. That never happened. It was signs of just what difficulty awaited us. Finally we were sworn into office. That evening the reality of rustication dawned on me as never before. It was there and then that I resolved that rustication or no rustication, I was going to serve KATANGA with all my heart and all my strength and I will rest not in my quest to see my hall at the top echelons of student affairs.
The meetings started soon afterwards. The long talks, the vetting process for the committee members and all that transitional stuff. Did I say transition? Ours wasn’t transition because the previous executives were sent home and there was no one to hand over to us.
The first shock came when we realized that there was no single working document or file and we had to start all over again. The second shock was when we were duly informed indirectly that we were not going to enjoy the privileges that other student leaders enjoyed. In fact we came into office at a time that the hall was coming out of crisis after that infamous October 11 moment of madness by our weaker brethren in Unity hall.
How was I going to combine this work with that of my faculty, where I was the Editor-in-chief together with my academic and spiritual life. The other difficulty was the conflict in spirituality. Who ever said there are no evil spirits in that hall? Worst of all, how was I going to manage all my numerous female friends since I would be spending more time in the hall and it looked more like a no-go zone for most ladies on campus?
He was the financial secretary and my only roommate. A nice gentleman, if I should flatter him. He was quite friendly and jovial and always fun to be around when he is in his good mood. However a bad temper was devouring him gradually. He was quite smart but very cantankerous. We had our good times and worst moments. Did I enjoy working with him? I have some reservations to that in times where he would not let logic and tolerance work or prevail over his self seeking ego.
He had sexy eyes just like a former president of Ghana. He was so witty and canny. The moment you loose guard he will turn you inside out. He was however extremely hardworking with some kind of motivated sense of duty. He always had some amount of mischief under his sleeves just like me. By some dint of magic the two of us clicked so much. He had his own weaknesses which is typical of every human being but I really enjoyed working with him and we eventually ended been tagged the two most dangerous people on campus. He is Seth Afari, vice president. I will talk about him later on.
He was a very handsome, dark and bald-headed gentleman. He was a friend of the bottle and the bottom. I mean wine and ladies. If you give him plenty of those two things he can sell all his belongings. I had a lot of confrontations with him but I enjoyed working with him to some extent. I thought he was very fearless and courageous but he disappointed me. He was someone who believed that words speak louder than action. He will talk so courageously but when it came to acting on his words, he would vanish into thin air like camphor. I thought former chief vandals were quite courageous. I later got to understand that KATANGA was more difficult to handle than Commonwealth. He was the president of the hall.
We worked with other wonderful guys around. Some were self seeking sycophant and bootlickers whilst others were dedicated and hardworking fellows. I can pull out Abraham Idrrisu, chairman of the Monitoring committee as the most hardworking committee chairman we had in our midst. Others were equally hardworking. Akeele, King David, Ekow, Fred, Albert, Mingle, Salaba and all the other guys really helped make our work quite easier. Fred Obikyere, our judicial committee chairman was a deep reservoir of advice and inspiration for us. He duly filled the gap of a legal counsel for us.
The meeting with the hall authorities started. I must confess that I was a hall secretary who never liked taking minutes. Maybe I was the 21st century secretary who would love to record the voices rather than to write. The meeting with the hallmaster and his staff went a bit well with some arguments and compromises. Then we were summoned by the royal owners of the house. If you are a Katangee, you will know who I am referring to. That meeting was a disaster as everyone wanted to prove his level of Kantageism. The meeting came to an abrupt end. The future looked so dim for us. We later went to patch up with them.
It was time to orient our first years after they had already had their own self-orientation. It came on the backdrop of Unity hall brain-washing their first years about shameful incidents that were not worth talking about. How vision-oriented is a leader who would orient his followers by boasting about primitive and unthinkable atrocities they committed?
During the orientation, we had to take time calming down our dear fellows and prevailing on them to ignore all the various angles of provocation that was coming their way. Other issues that we had to extensively talk about were the sanitation issue, which has become a bane of the hall and the unfair treatment of ladies. Then we were done for the time being. We spent the night at TECH junction with some kebabs and soft drinks. Our first task was completed.
Then came the time for one very important activity on the KATANGA calendar. It was time for the LUV FM old schools reunion. The following week will be the much awaited KATANGA FIESTA. We had series of meetings to decide if we should participate in the old schools reunion or not. The atmosphere, we predicted was going to be very volatile. We went to the LUV FM premises on the eve of the event itself. What happened there was a fore warning to us to stay away from the event itself. The bombardier and the spirit of Fellows were just too much for the heavy military presence there to control. The down moment was the blast of the bombard that scared a soldier and in his attempt to seize this sacred property, he received a slap from nowhere. The next time he attempted it he was on the floor. You wouldn’t believe it that a soldier faced such ordeal? That is KATANGA for you. When we came back to the hall we decided that we were not participating in the old schools reunion.
It was time to present our letter of notice to the then dean of students concerning our mega joint fiesta and clean-up exercise. That was when our real troubles started. This man was just difficult. We were given a lot of conditions and we tried to fulfill them all. I remember writing about 30 letters to just one person for just one program. We were told to form committees of enquiries and look into cases we knew nothing of and a whole lot. It was all a form of discouraging us form going ahead with our programme. The whole school was in fear that the little chance we had, we were going to pour down thousand folds of mayhem on our purported enemies. Then it happened that we got so fed up when after fulfilling all the conditions, this man will still not give us the go-ahead even though we were organizing just a one-day clean-up exercise.
On the eve of the fiesta and clean-up exercise, we had still not got the approval. With all the accumulated venom in us and throwing all caution to the air, the vice president, the entertainment chairman (EKOW), the deputy sanitation chairman (KING DAVID) and myself marshaled ourselves to the office of the dean of students. Upon entering the office, he accused us of intimidation and would only talk to us if two of us go out. Is it not funny? The others took leave of us and it was left with the vice president and myself. The ensuing encounter was so hot that the secretary of the dean rushed into the office, thinking we were beating up the old man in his office. At the end of the day, considering the aggression with which we came to the office, he finally gave us the go ahead after a lengthy round of arguments. He even went to the extent of forcing us to use our impending hall week as a collateral to some dubious agreement, which we refused vehemently. That man was a tough man. Fellows shocked me with the way they responded to the program. That was the most massive clean-up exercise I have ever seen on campus. It was so enjoying and successful. I don’t know what was running through the minds of those who thought we would hide behind the programme and cause trouble.
In December, we were summoned to the national Alumni meeting scheduled for Alisa Hotel, in Accra. The journey was quite enjoying as I had TARGET, the vice president by my side to entertain me. The meeting itself was awesome. The legend truly lives on. It was just like we were still in the hall. It was more of a barbecue party. We enjoyed ourselves and talked about KATANGA. The funny thing was when the Alumni decided to impeach our president because when he was called to give an update of what was going on in the hall, he was saying something ludicrous to them. For his mistake we were all punished by them pounding us with alcoholic beverages. After the meeting, we had to come back to campus to prepare for second semester and the much awaited hall week. Preparation was quite tough but we manage to put something down.
Second semester came to meet us strong and alive, together with the New Year. Somewhere along the line, TARGET (vice president) and I were tasked to go to Accra to finalise the preparation for our hall week with the invited guests and other sponsors. He left earlier and I had to join him. Our three days in Accra was very hectic but full of fun. I arrived in Accra on Sunday evening, went straight to Legon campus and to Mensah Sarbah hall, where I planned to lodge. TARGET came over and we went to undertake our first task by paying a courtesy call on the JCR executives of the hall and the overlord of Sarbah. He left after that. That evening was one to remember. After spending some time with Vera (immediate past hall secretary of Sarbah), I left for Vandal city to take part in their annual MINIMPINIM festival. From there I moved to Volta hall where I spent some time with their vice president and treasurer. Those girls were really nice. In fact they gave me VIP treatment that I rarely receive on my own campus. AFRICA hall executives will never give you such a treat. From there, I passed by Legon hall and met some few friends before moving back to Vera’s place. That girl is really nice. She is cute and very affable. I enjoyed every single moment spent with her. It was difficult for me leaving Legon campus just because of her but we promised to see each other again. Vera, you are so wonderful. I hope Christabel who took over from you, would be as lovely as you are.
The following day, I woke up earlier and undertook some AKATASLOPSA projects before meeting up with my vice president for the day’s business. We went to all the big places in town from the office of the IGP to the office of the Barclays MD. In fact this man motivated me a lot when he walked up to me during the Alumni meeting and introduced himself as the MD of Barclays and a former hall secretary. He even paid homage when I introduced myself as the incumbent hall secretary. We met up with a lot of Fellows and had some wonderful experiences that I will put in my book when it gets published. Watch out for it.
It was a Wednesday evening and I was in church at the Republic hall. Suddenly I heard a group of feminine voices rising with brass band. It immediately occurred to me that it might be Africa hall. Something just pricked me to come out and check up. I asked myself how an activity of Africa hall would concern me so much to the point of leaving church. I however came out to the entrance of Republic hall and here they were embarking on a candlelight procession. They looked so nice in their all yellow top and all black down with their yellow candles, singing melodiously. I guessed the procession was impromptu as some of them were in things that I imagined were neither shorts, leggings nor skirts. They were virtually in their panties. Anyway that was not my concern. It immediately occurred to me that they might decide to go to all the halls including KATANGA. Sensing danger ahead, I immediately called my vice president. One might ask why a harmless procession would call for danger. I know my boys. KATANGEES are a group of very happy people and when they see girls, their happiness becomes uncontrollable. Fortunately, my vice president was also doing his own thing in REpu, so we met up and called our security agencies in the hall to come out and make sure Fellows do not come out. We immediately rushed to the hall to wait as well. Then it so happened that, they came all the way to the Great hall junction. The security men who were protecting these vulnerable ladies refused to lead them through the dreaded KATANGA royal driveway. They started turning their motorbikes away. The ladies were also chanting “WE WILL GO”. They were dying to come and see the lovely guys of the great hall. At the same time, a large number of Katangees has also gathered in front of the hall chanting that powerful and famous hall anthem. The ladies looked scared and confused. I went up to their president together with my vice president and told them that we can ensure that they cross the road so peacefully but they will not have the luxury of entering the kingdom hall. They agreed to that and we led them all the way to Brunei. Later I got to know that the KATANGA event was the part of the procession they enjoyed most. That was when I got to know that there was something like official boyfriend. Amanda, the hall secretary of Africa hall wanted to do all kinds of things to me with her waist and backside all in the name of officialdom. Had I not come out of church, I can not predict what would have happened that day.
It was a fateful Friday morning, almost a week to the first ever KATANGA FESTIVAL. We had decided to stop celebrating hall week and take it to another level. I was duly informed that the Pro Vice Chancellor came to the hall that early morning and had a chat with the vice president concerning our relationship with the Senior Common Room. We were subsequently requested to see him at the University council chamber at exactly 10am. Little did I know that 10am will become a time that will always haunt me. We went up there fully prepared. As we sat in the reception, waiting to be called, I suddenly saw the president of Unity house together with some people I knew were traditional council members in their hall coming out of the council chambers. Immediately, I sensed danger. I pricked TARGET, who was sitting close to me and told him we were in trouble. We were invited to the chambers and it was put before us that Unity have complained of their missing items and they have enough evidence to prove that we are responsible for the theft or whatever the chose to call it. Guess what was missing. Their idol that they call Aboagyewaa’s daughter and their drums. So hilarious. A god can be so powerless that it will be stolen from its stronghold without any resistance. Someway somehow, I didn’t know some people can be so careless that their sacred and valuable properties will be picked under their very nose without them noticing or catching the culprit. I call it prejudice and sheer partiality. They had concluded before we were called and we were given a 4pm ultimatum to submit the items to the dean of students or we face very strict and punitive measures. Was it not an orchestration against our hall festival? I knew it was coming. I sensed it within myself. I even dreamt about it.
We came back to the hall and had a marathon meeting. In the evening I was summoned to another close door meeting to see our next line of action. It looked like some section of people were suspecting me of masterminding the alleged act. After that meeting, we immediately summoned all the cadet officers and we run a search in every single room in KATANGA just to prove a point that we have no hand in what we were been accused of. That very night, some Fellows had to leave to Twifo Praso to attend a funeral. I was tasked to stay behind to look after the hall in those times of crises. Little did I know that the journey itself will lead to another round of problems. We sat down with the Unity house executives later and realize to my annoyance and disappointment that they did not have any iota of evidence and were just hoping about accusing any one around. We killed that case and went away.
It is Sunday, 14th March, 2010. The fateful day. The day the much awaited hall festival is scheduled to begin. The much dread and expected JESUS MATCH is scheduled for 3pm. After church service I quickly went to the security barracks to remind them of our procession. From there I moved straight to the hall to make sure things were in place. Fellows were in high spirit and were eagerly preparing for the match. It was 12pm when I entered the room of the hall president to see if he was preparing. That was when he gave me that frightening news that he has been called an directed that we should not enter any hall or get to Africa hall. He was also advised that if possible, we should stop the procession. I smiled at him and told him that whatever it is, we were embarking on the match as earlier planned because we have the full permission for that. I compounded his problems for him and left his room. Come and see me action ready for the JESUS MATCH, in my all white cassock and my red belt with my black head covering. The match itself was massive. All we could hear the hall campus saying was “KTANGA IS BACK”. After the hall was not dead as people wanted to believe.
The crusade in the evening was another wonderful experience. Rev. Joshua Kas Vorsah was the guest preacher. This was after the initial idea of bringing down Prophet One Opambour has backfired. The sermon was powerful and I just praised God during the altar call when I saw some people coming forward to receive Christ.
The following day was wow. The dress code was religious and the participation was marvelous. We had a conference in the evening on the topic, “THE INTRODUCTION OF THE VAGINA MONOLOGUE IN GHANA”. We had guests coming in from Independence hall to help in the conference. Day two of the Hall festival was gone.
It was that fateful Tuesday 16th March. The dress code for that day was the popular FCUBE. I woke up in the morning went to take some pictures in my costume. I was preparing to go to class in my Fcube when I was duly informed that the Vice chancellor wants to see us in his office when it is 10 am. We went to the office and I would always remember what transpired there. Not knowing, some members of the hall had gone to UCC to give people headaches over there to the extent of untying and unleashing a huge cow unto the Cape Coast campus. They were alleged to have given residents of Nkrumah hall a hell of a time as well. Then the bombshell itself came. The long and short of it all was that we had to change and modify our hall week by taking out the most important programmes like the pool party and the durbar of chief or risk the termination of the hall week and subsequently the closure of the hall.
We came back to the hall and had one of the lengthiest meetings ever. We still could not arrive at a single unanimous decision. At the end of the day we decided to terminate the hall festival. It was a very difficult decision we had to take but it was to safeguard a lot of other bad news to follow. We knew very well there was no way we could go by the conditions that were given us. After the decision we walked to the office of the VC to inform him of our final decision before we came to announce it to the hall. The news did not go down well with them. Fear all of a sudden came over KNUST. It was unbelievable that KATANGA could voluntarily cancel their own hall week. They sensed trouble ahead.
Now it was time to decide who will go and bell the cat. The hall tutor came forward and gave a very flimsy reason that since the names of myself and the vice president were frequently mentioned during our encounter with the administration and it looked like we had spearheaded all those events, we should take up the task so that the intelligence units around will know that we have a change of mind. I got convinced somehow after his statement that there was an underground dealing somewhere to victimize or push blames on some people. I finally opted to take up that very difficult task. As we were about to enter the hall, the lights went out and the bombard went off and the sounds of the drums came up higher and I could hear anger in the voice of fellows as they chanted war songs. That moment I lost all hopes I had that all was going to be well. I started praying silently. The light soon came on and we entered the hall. The news about our summoning to the administration had already got to the hall and they were already expecting us. In fact they were ready to spill blood. I took the microphone, but I started having funny thoughts. Why not divert the decision and tell them that we will go ahead and celebrate our hall week and damn all the consequences? But I pushed that thought aside and informed them of whatever was going on. The news did not go down well with them at first but after a lot of explanation they begun to understand why we had to take such difficult decision. That Tuesday was a day I would never want to remember again.
I went to church on Wednesday evening and surprising, a lady friend called me amidst sobs that she was just informed that I had been rusticated. Fire burn her mouth. The ensuing days were hell for me and the vice president. At some time in the week we thought they would eventually send us home. We went through all kinds of ordeals and we suffered and enjoyed every kind of it. I remember when we complained to the VC that we were hungry and he gave us money for ‘gobe’. Finally I chaired a powerful vetting panel and elections took place and new officers were elected. That vetting was another difficult task for me. I had been accused of masterminding the defeat and elimination of a lot of people in elections across campus. Here was a case I was an incumbent hall secretary and the constitution demands of me to chair a vetting where four of my friends were vying for various positions. In fact my own president at the faculty level who even appointed me as editor was also to be vetted. Everyone was expectant to see how I would handle it. However principles are principles. I gave everyone a fair deal of tough time.
The day of reckoning finally came when we had to hand over the arduous task of leading KATANGA to others. That was the day the two most wanted guys on campus were finally free. That was a day the vice president and myself finally said we were free from the persecutions. We bowed out historically as the first time in almost ten years where all four hall executives of the hall have handed over peacefully. I say adieu to the hall. Surprisingly enough, the one I handed over to was a friend and my personal manager during my campaign season. THE LEGEND WILL FOREVER LIVE ON. LONG LIVE FELLOWS. LONG LIVE KATANGA.