Ghana National College was established on Friday, July 16th, 1948 in Cape Coast, during a period of agitation for self government in the then Gold Coast.
Ironically it was christened Ghana National college nine years before The Gold Coast achieved independence in 1957, and the country named Ghana.
Time line on the historical development of the school
February 28th 1948
Tragedy at Christianborg Castle and the shooting of Ex-service men from the war for demonstrating for benefits blamed on Kwame Nkrumah for his radical tendencies and subsequently detained with six of his cohorts, Dr. JB Danquah, Mr Edward Akuffo-Addo, Mr William Ofori-Atta, Mr Obetsebi Lamptey, and Mr. Ako Adjei
March 15th 1948
Student protests in Cape Coast in solidarity for the detained UGCC executives results in the expulsion of 150 students from St. Augustines College and Mfantsipim school on the recommendation of the Quashie- Idun Commission charged with investigation into the student unrest. The appointments of Four teachers, three from St. Augustines College and one from Mfantsipim school are also revoked.
The teachers are Mr. Kwesi Plange, Mr. JJ Mensah-Kane, Mr HP Nelson and Mr HWK Sackeyfio (Mfantsipim)
July 1st 1948
Kwame Nkrumah, Secretary of the UGCC invites the above mentioned teachers to his office in Saltpond and commissions Mr. Kojo Botsio to evaluate plans for starting a new school.
July 8th 1948
Kwame Nkrumah donates 10 pounds towards starting the school. With this, the teachers make benches, desks, blackboards buy writing tools and rent space on the ground floor of the Old Temple House of the Grand United order of the ODD Fellows at McCarthy Hill, Cape Coast.
July 16th 1948
Sixteen boys and one girl are enrolled as the first students of the school for the first official lessons at MacCarthy Hill, Cape Coast. They will later become prominent notables in the Ghanaian society.
Among them will be:
- Prof. Kofi Amoa Oduro – Professor of Anaesthesia at the Ghana Medical School
- Mr. Joseph Kingsley Bentum- Williams – First Head prefect, and for many years CEO of GIHOC
- Mr. S.I.K. Boakye- Agyeman – Chartered Accountant
- Dr. L.K.A. Derban – Rtd. Industrial Medical Officer, Volta River Authority
- Dr. Asare Berkye – Gynaecologist and Obstetrician in Cairo, Egypt.
- Prof K. Osei Manu – University of Columbia
- Mr. Twumasi Ankrah – Died prematurely from activities of his political carreer
- Prof. Francis Kofi A. Allotey -World renowned scientist and former Vice Chancellor, U. S. T.
July 19th 1948
First formal lesson starts at MacCarthy Hill- Dr. Nkrumah’s inaugural address states “in spite of the humble conditions under which we have started, I bring you a message of Hope and Inspiration. I bid you shake hands with your fellow students and teachers over your study table and over the blackboards. I look forward to the time when there will be a chain of Ghana Colleges in all of the four territories which make up the Gold Coast leading to the founding of a very high institution in this country. In the name of the people of the Gold Coast, In the name of Humanity and in the name of the Almighty God, I bid you speed forward till we realize a free and United Gold Coast and a United Africa.
November 22nd 1948
The school moves into a more spacious location for eight boys at Siwdu owned by Alhaji Ali Baba, a businessman in Cape Coast.
Mrs. Faustina Daniels houses the girls in her coronation street Hostel . She will later become a member of of the board of governors from 1951-1972
Early in 1949
Charlotte Bart Plange, Mother of Kwesi Plange Offers her sitting room for use as an office and conference room. She will later become a member of the board of govenors form 1951-1972.
Classes are also held in the bedroom of the Temple-keeper.
Mr. Michael Ato Wood composes The school Hymn “God bless our Native Land”
J. J. Mensah-Kane becomes headmaster of the school, assisted by H.P. Nelson
JJ Mensah-Kane and HP Nelson both leave for the UK for further studies as educators.
The Govenor-General of the Gold Coast Visits the school at Siwdu with good news from the Prime Minister that the Ghana Education Trust has been instructed to provide permanent Buildings for the school.
Land is provided by the Afadu-Abadzi and the Ama Takyiwa Twidan families of Amanful, Cape Coast.
January 1st, 1957
Mrs. Elizabeth Ward-Brew offers her vacant residential complex at Wardbury Gardens at Kakumdo to house the boys
6th March 1957
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah becomes the Prime Minister of Ghana
All girls are moved to join the boys at Warbury Gardens and Miss Stella Maysel, first female teacher is appointed as Housemistress to relieve Miss Adelina Bessa-Simons, the school’s matron.
JJ. Mendah-Kane returns from the UK to join the staff at the school teaching zoology at Siwdu
Contruction of the New school buildings:
JJ Mendah-kane is appointed Assistant Headmaster and oversees moving the school from Siwdu to Mennya Mennwu (literally means I didn’t die after all)
J.J. Mensah-Kane is appointed Headmaster of the school.
J.J Mensah-Kane retires and will pass on the baton to Mr. S. E. Cobbold
Mr. John Gyemfi, one of the students who moved in from Siwdu took leadership
Mr. Nuama-Hagan, an alum, becomes headmaster
GOD BLESS OUR SCHOOL, OUR AGE, OUR LAND
JOB WELL DONE
MBO NA EDWUMA
Source: Ghana National College 50th Anniversary Brochure
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