One of the best years of my life was 2001, the year I finished high school aka secondary school. I had so much freedom and chalked so many achievements. 1999 was one of the worst years of my life, this was the year I was a first year (Form 1) student at Presec. I was a labourer while being a student. Presec stands for Presby Boys’ Secondary (High) School — Legon. In between the dates of being a Presec student and being within the walls of this great school, my favorite teacher was Charlotte Akyeampong. Mrs Akyeampong trumps all my teachers (for me), she is my favorite teacher of all time (and for some other Odadees too). 2018 is the year of Presec’s 80th anniversary. This is a great time to honour Mrs Akyeampong with a #MightyAfrican blog post.
While I was in Form 1, I joined the Quiz Writers and Debaters Club. I was very passionate about trivia and general knowledge while in junior secondary school (KNUST JSS) so naturally, I joined this club of students who were very interested in quizzes and information in general. Mrs Akyeampong was the patron of this club and this is how I got to know her primarily. She was a sweet caring woman. I got to befriend her even more when I took up debating as well. I became quite good at debating, I loved the word play, etc. Alongside Mr Fercundity (another Presec teacher), they trained us on how to debate and our school debate team was one of the best in Ghana. In fact, I never lost a debate in which I competed for my alma mater. I won all quizzes in which I represented Presec as well. In spite of all of this, Mrs Akyeampong ensured that my school mates and I were humble and continued to study and get better.
In Form 1, thanks to a literary event some Presecans and I went to at the PAWA House in Accra, I fell deeply in love with poetry after meeting a Ghanaian poet who had been published in several UK based anthologies. I started to write so many poems (most of them based on themes) and Madam Akyeampong would read through them, give me feedback, sharpening my iron. Several of these poems were published in UK based anthologies and in 2001, I won an International Poetry of Merit Award. Being on the Presec Editorial Board was the most prestigious thing for any Presec junior (form 1 or 2). As the premier literature teacher in Presec, Mrs Akyeampong was the patron and main staff member in charge of this. I started to write a lot of articles — using the pseudonym Aristocrates. We had to produce a Year Book of final year students (2000 graduating class) and an Odadee magazine (2001 edition). We had to write the articles, collect others, design the pages, figure out the flow, and publish 2 magazines. We also needed to work with the publishing house and even find sponsors to support the publication. I learnt so many things under Mrs Akyeampong’s guidance as the Assistant Managing Editor.
She was my school mother and guided me in my leadership journey at Presec as well. When I became the protocol prefect of the school, I worked very closely with her since she worked a lot on academic affairs as well. She liked me a lot, and I benefited greatly as a result. Having a mosquito net was very important as a boarding school student in my day. Even though I had one, I had a severe case of malaria in the year 200 while in Form 2 at Presec (Clerk House). “Great Minds Think Alike”. I would never forget how worried Mrs Akyeampong was when she heard I was ‘that sick’ and the measures she took to ensure I had the best health treatment possible. I ended up being admitted at the Legon Hospital and she came to visit like a caring mother would. I spoke about her so much in my circles and at home that my parents became her friends and knew her very well.
Mrs Charlotte Akyeampong taught at the Wesley Girls High School (Gey Hey) in 1969 and then at Achimota school from 1970–72. She came to Presec in 1973 and taught at Presec for 33 years. She retired in 2006. For those 33 years, she helped so many boys become men and many girls also become women. She also helped us become more literate, develop a joy for writing, acting and the creative arts.
She wrote a number of (theatre) plays, the most popular being “The Inspection”. This was a play that was very much talked about when I got to Presec in 1999. One of the most terrifying experiences for a Form 1 boy in Presec is preparing for the school inspection (+ competition) and the going through the actual inspection by prefects, etc. Capturing those experiences in a stage play is a genius move for a literature teacher at a top school like Presec. The Presec Drama Club had staged this play a number of times and won several accolades for it so it was famous! She wrote the following books: Chanticleer (1992), The Search (1993), The Birth of a King (1994), When The Child Fell Ill (1995), Suhudoo (1997), The Inspection (1997), Crab Soup (2001), Lost And Found (2001). I joined the Presec Drama Club in 2000 and had the chance to be part of the Chanticleer cast. I was going to act like a woman, that’s a role that was given to me. Yeap, Presec was a boys’ school at the time which had boys act all roles. Presec did have girls though, from 1975 to 1996.
My relationship with Mrs Akyeampong blossomed after Presec and continues to do so. I have visited her several times, catching up on old times, reminiscing memories, charting memoirs etc. I visited her while she was still teaching and as part of other times I visited the school. It was an honour to have her at my #MightyAfricanLove wedding as well. I visited her once at her son’s house in Maryland with a few Odadees as well. She has given me lots of great advice and I really enjoy her company. Several Odadees have many great reflections about her. Due to the impact she made in so many Presecans’ lives, an alumni (academic) society called C. S. Akyeampong Society and fund have been named after her.
One of her recent goals has been to have her stage plays published. Thanks to the efforts of various Odadee and primarily, Obeng-Amoako Edmonds, they are being realized. The Search (1993) and When The Child Fell Ill (1995) are available to be purchased on Amazon. They are also being launched at the (new) Presec Assembly Hall on November 27 at 6pm. I would be there alongside several Odadee to honour her for the impact she has made in our lives. Join us. In lumine tuo, videbimus lumen!