I attended Adisadel College in Ghana between 2001 and 2003, and let me start by saying, with 8 As out of 9 subjects—this really mattered in Adisadel, because, constantly, others were indicted for coming through the bad door.
The then assistant headmaster (Academic) nicknamed L’argent (French word for money), most notoriously was rumoured to be in charge of all the back door admission operations.
Interestingly, my time at Adisadel college coincided with the initial spring of the internet café business in Ghana—therefore, we spent the greater part of our nights, in internet cafes while the teachers and the gatemen were deeply asleep.
Even if they were awake, we took the bush road (called Apiom way) so I guess it didn’t really matter how loud they snored.
Doing what? Nothing much; perhaps, watching porn or just browsing, which entailed moving from one website to another—complete waste of time and money.
But soon, the computer skills and the internet café familiarity became a big business—we became rich students; somehow legal, and somehow illegal, depending on whether you were a parent or the student.
At the end of each semester, Adisadel College students are handed a letter to be given to their parents—which contained the student’s name, reopening date of school and the amount of school fees needed to be paid.
Weirdly, the school fees were never the same—perhaps, it flowed with the then inflation rate. And as smart students who were always in need of cash, we exploited our options, granted by the volatile economy.
So right after obtaining the end of semester letters, we would head straight to the internet café with grinning teeth.
Particularly, I was a Microsoft word ninja; I would scan the letter, cut off the heading and re-type the content with adjustment to the school fees to a preferred amount. The fall-on would later become my ‘chilling money.’
This worked like magic but there was one single important rule, you had to be reasonable with the adjustment—else, your parents could be compelled to make further enquires from the school.
It was good business for most students—but there were a few whose parents did not trust them much with money and as such would pay fees via bank draft. Even that, we had a way around it.
Parents who issued bank drafts in the name of the school were over paying the fees; so when presenting the draft, students would argue that the father intentionally added his pocket money to the fees so he does not spend it while at home—and also, to ensure he actually comes to school.
Following which the convinced accountant would give you the over-payment amount in cash.
Occasionally, there were red flags and the school must have sensed something, so it started posting these letters instead of handing them to students—forgetting that, parents did not really go the post office, we did.
Then, the school got the hint again; so there was this absurd policy that over-paid fees could only be credited to take care of the next semester’s fees or could only be used to obtain new school uniforms.
When it comes to Adisadel College (those days), the zebra was unique and you could only buy it from the schools—of course at their exorbitant, seemingly unregulated price.
So, students who had adjusted their fees used the overflow amount the school wouldn’t hand in cash to them to obtain uniforms, and then re-sell the uniform to other students who genuinely needed to pay for uniforms.
I am sure the authorities were frustrated; but they couldn’t stop the ‘hustle,’ and the determination of the student body to have that ‘chilling money’ couldn’t be axed.
If you are wondering what the hell we did with the money or most of the money we took to school—we bought some fine sneakers and the rest went into ‘toasting’ some girls (from various schools) that we never really had more than letters or face to face conversation with.
Stupid…right? But it wasn’t at the time.
We could run out of school without permission (exeat) and make it all the way from Cape Coast to Aburi Girls—just to have 2 hours conversation with our supposed girlfriends. Pretty damn useless if I think about it today; an occasional kiss was the peak of this enterprise.
But boys would risk everything to show up during visiting hours. I remember travelling all the way to Ho, Ola Girls, with some bunch of friends to see the ‘girlfriend’ of one—only to get there a few minutes after visiting hours. We couldn’t see her and we had no mean of returning, because it was late.
Our night at Ho was adventurous than the deranged Hollywood movie-Hangover. We ended up spending the night on the street—because, no hotel was ready to take 5 boys in a single room, and our budget couldn’t afford more than that.
The next morning, we were excited we didn’t even sleep in that hotel: we bought a large waakye for breakfast with the money we had wanted to use for the hotel.
Of course, secondary school collection of events remains one of the exciting memories for most Ghanaians, and so does it hit the note for me.
Some days were hilarious; others were scandalous—but we spent most days scheming and planning unyielding enterprises. They mostly got us into trouble.
Broke boys would give letters to you to give to their girlfriends when you are visiting a particular school—because they were looking to cut cost. And some would even put 5 letters in one envelope and address it to a person at Holy Child, hoping she will re-distribute the letters accordingly.
‘Same day’ delivery was luxurious, a high class postage system that had a cost mirroring it speed. With about 5 supposed girlfriends you need to write to all the time, no one wanted to spend all his ‘chilling money’ on postage fees.
Woe unto you if you ever receive a Valentine or Birthday card which was not a recognised brand like Clinton Cards or Hallmark—you would be teased to death, cheaply labelled ‘Obuyaya.’
There were very strange characters, and a collection of eerie nicknames kept being passed on from one student generation to another.
We had folks like Bob Satan, Sinnful, Twesparo, Oborni, Aba Meanu (Two Sticks), Nightmare (now known in showbiz as Kumi Guitar), Buddha (also now known in showbiz as Obibini), Warwar, School Dey Bore, Anoma, Monster, Blakk Acid, Box Iron, Chilling, ATL (Above the Law), Outlaw, Apostrofy and several others.
Aside the names, some students were plainly weird—they showed up for all school functions, including dinning but would never attended a class session.
And we had those who regularly came to prep just to sleep—they got upset when people talked; simply because they were disturbing their sleep. But when it’s mid night, these sleeping bags will wake up to go for ‘mining.’
We also had outlandish characters like ‘Addai Aboagye’ who for the 3 years attended each night’s prep, reading the same book—-Things Fall Apart.
How can I forget to pay homage to those who were always learning but kept failing. Somehow, they couldn’t see that, perhaps, the more they learned, the worse the failing became.
Adisadel College’s dispensary functioned like a luxurious 5 star hotel: sick students wouldn’t get a bed because the place was always full—if you were looking for me and you couldn’t find me in class, everyone who knew me will say; ‘he must be at the dispensary.’
Frequently, the nurse in charge of the dispensary-‘Azaa Ansah’ (they said he was a doctor but every student doubted that because of his methods) would beg that those who were not really sick should get up and make the beds free those with genuine sickness—it was that bad.
The best times to check into this luxurious hotel was during dinning hall sessions; because the fake patients will go to eat at the dinning hall—and then you can settle in an empty bed.
Despite it all, almost everyone was smart enough to be there: elective mathematics wasn’t a problem, geography was a cool ‘chop’—we still managed to leave with a distinction.
What was your secondary school days like? And what are some of the weirdest nicknames you had?