Those were simply magical moments in Morning Star School nestled as it was in one of Ghana's prime-if not most prime- neighbourhoods in the capital Accra: Cantonments. The notable Ghanaian scholar Prof. Ato Quayson(my mentor and friend) informs us that that area stretching from the Osu,Oxford Street(of which he is the foremost chronicler and interpreter in contemporary times) right up to Cantonments was the pristine no-go area of imperial power in the Gold Coast(his latest book on this is a must read for those interested in Ghana’s urban history) . Ghana’s new elites spatially and symbolically took over that expanse of territory according to Quayson . In a sense then it is just as well that one of Ghana’s most premier elite private prep schools will find a home in that setting.
Those magical moments were popular in the sociological sense of the word. It was all about the so-called sport of the masses: football. The Morning Star of my era in the 1980s was simply mad about it. It was all about the intense competition, the magical talents, the fame(no fortune of course) and the feisty admiration of nubile ladies. Inter-class football competitions captured the attention of all. Our founder Mrs. Esme Siriboe(lie in peace always) was prescient enough to leave this fairly large, sandy field right in the middle of the school. Today’s prep schools seem all covered with concrete and I bristle at my son’s failure to taste some sand while at play. This field took on a unique make-up during these tourneys: improvised goal posts made of wood and strings popped up and the perimeters and soccer pitch markings traced out with some powdery substance. Ceremony attended the start of each match. The teams will troop onto the field led by their various captains(it was a privilege to captain a team; one was chosen democratically by one’s classmates; I was captain for the seven years I played in that competition) to the uproarious cheer of a raucous crowd; there was the tossing of the coin and the lucky side will choose their preferred side of the field and then the referee’s whistle will start proceedings.
It was in this unforgettable milieu of our childhood that Ebenezer Saka Amoako’s inimitable character will leave its stamp on us all. I was his classmate from class one to class seven. Once in a crucial inter-classes match he left the goal-post(in the heat of proceedings) he was tending because we were excoriating him for some bad judgments. He was always his own man very early. It probably was all in his genes. He was one of the sons of one of Ghana’s prominent entrepreneurs (until Rawlings’ inferno that left Ghana at the very best half cooked and scalded and all but incinerated the business sector) back in the day: Amoako Leather Works. He grew tall very early and cut a strapping, well built and handsome figure in our class. Uniquely his temper was not sharp and I hardly saw him in those childhood scrapes in the most obscure corners of the compound beyond the teachers’ gaze where Don King pretenders ruled.
Academic work seemed to be a formality to be endured. He seemed destined for business. He became a business man as usual doing his thing beyond the sometimes stultifying demands of routine and form. Here was a free spirit whose laughter raspy and throaty and full still fills my ears and staunches the pain as I write this eulogy to the first of the 1986 year group of Morning Star to have gone to sleep. We were very close and we had our moments. He will make those clandestine runs to the waakye(a very tasteful rice and beans West African dish)seller we had been forbidden to go near and for good reason. The kindly waakye seller's location was out of the school’s gates and heaved with cars and potential evils of all sorts. When electronic watches became all the rage Saka turned himself into the one to hire watches from. He always had some funny term or phrase on offer all stamped with his idiosyncracies. One was: "whatz happ’nin." He would say this with an exaggerated American twang and in rapid fire bursts. Saka was just simply fun loving. Once our teachers were having a meeting and asked us the seniors to keep some order in the classrooms. I was with him when we went to Mrs. Abdulai’s class. The class 2 pupils sat there at the mercy of our superintendence. Saka moved to the front of the class and straight to the blackboard. I knew there was going to be drama. He took a piece of chalk almost solemnly but what followed was just the opposite: he asked the poor pupils to find the square root of their posterior orifice! If it were today he might have found himself before the bar of child abuse. That was Saka at his mischievous best.