Tribute to the memory of the late Rt. Rev. Victor Buer Nartey-Tokoli

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BY DANIEL OWUSU-KORANTENG (an old student of Nkawkaw Secondary School) 

“Praise we the wise and brave and strong

Who graced their generation,

Who helped the right and fought the wrong,

And made our folks a nation.”

I believe that if we fail to acknowledge the good deeds of our fellow human beings, we would find it difficult to show gratitude for God’s gift of abundant resources.

It is common for people to wrongly assume that anybody in our country who gains modest recognition for some good deed may have attended what is always described as first class high schools. I have always said with pride that I attended Nkawkaw Secondary School (Great KAWSEC) which I still consider as the best high school existing in our country. I am proud to be an old KAWSECAN and my school whose motto is “Education for Service” influenced my life greatly.

What makes KAWSECANS unique and so proud of their school?

The answer lies in the fact that the first Headmaster of Nkawkaw Secondary School, Rt. Rev. Victor BuerNartey-Tokoli, a highly respected priest of the Methodist Church, an Educationist par excellence, a great father, Counsellor and a dedicated public servant built the school on a strong foundation of truth, hard work and service to humanity.

In 1968 when the then Methodist Training College at Nkawkaw was to be closed down by the government, it took the ingenuity of the Rt. Rev. Nartey-Tokoli to accept the challenge of developing Nkawkaw Secondary School from the ashes of the Training College to serve the human capital needs of the Kwahu area and the nation. Rt. Rev. Nartey-Tokoli had the onerous task of starting Nkawkaw Secondary School with very poor facilities bequeathed to the school by the old Methodist Training College. He was driven by a strong desire to develop a secondary school that would provide social, moral and formal education to prepare the products of the school to serve mother Ghana.

The late Rt. Rev. Victor Buer Nartey-Tokoli went round from church to church, market places and schools convincing parents to enrol their children in the new Nkawkaw Secondary School. He marketed Great KAWSEC as a government school with great potential to provide a holistic   education to the many young people in the area who had not been able to further their education beyond the Middle School level. The first batch of students of Nkawkaw Secondary School included former pupil teachers, street hawkers, petty traders and those recruited directly from Middle schools without stressing so much on the Common Entrance Examination initially since that could have prevented many of the first batch of students from gaining admission. I would explain why I feel compelled to write this tribute to the memory of the Late Rt. Rev. Victor Buer Nartey-Tokoli.  I am filled with deep emotions as I write about my personal experience with him and I know many of my compatriots of Great KAWSEC feel the same.

I passed the Common Entrance Examination in 1970 and was invited for an interview in one of the schools on the Kwahu Mountain. I was successful at the interview and was provided an admission letter and a prospectus. The prospectus had a long list of items I needed to buy and the school fees which I had to pay within a short period. I realised that I had come to the end of my education because I knew my mother could not afford to buy the tall list of items on the prospectus and then pay the school fees. I burst out weeping and continued crying when we were descending the Odweanoma hill until I got to the market place at Nkawkaw where my mother was. The passengers in the vehicle with me probed into why I was in such deep sorrow but I was filled with too much grief to explain to them.

After a few consultations with some market women who had heard of Nkawkaw Secondary School through the campaigns of Rt. Rev. Nartey-Tokoli, my mother decided to go and meet the headmaster to make a plea for my admission. My mother and I walked about 5 km to the old site and we met Rt. Rev. Nartey-Tokoli waiting at the entrance of the school as if he was expecting us. My mother talked about everything including the sudden death of our father who was a Presbyterian priest and the efforts she was making to educate us. He listened attentively and started acting on the issue before my mother could complete her story. That was how I gained admission to Nkawkaw Secondary School as a day student in the second batch of students without any impediment. Interestingly, many students of Nkawkaw Secondary School have testimonies similar to mine.

The Late Rt. Rev. Victor Buer Nartey-Tokoli taught me the greatest lesson that one needed to be upright in public life.  My mother would not have been able to pay a farthing as bribe if the Rt. Rev. Nartey-Tokoli had demanded money as a condition for my admission and I have vowed never to receive bribe in the course of my work.  He encouraged all his students to uphold high moral standards and that is what has kept some of us through the difficulties of public service.

On 29th April, 2012, about 60 old students of Great KAWSEC paid a visit to our father and mentor Rt. Rev. Victor Buer Nartey-Tokoli who had not been in good health for some time. Brigadier-General Yeboah Morphy ( first School Prefect) and Ms Stella Appiah-Nkansah of Vodafone (Secretary of the Old Students’ Association) in their speech paid glowing tribute to the  legend  of our great school and told him that though late, we were honoured and excited to interact with him. His face glowed with smiles and he looked very happy to have seen many generations of KAWSECANS who had gathered to pay homage to him.  We sang many Methodist Hymns together and we prayed for him.  Our father bid us good bye and we left his home very satisfied that we had accomplished an important duty only to hear that he died peacefully the next morning. It was as if he was waiting to see the generations of his children before passing over. Rt. Rev. Victor Buer Nartey-Tokoli changed the destiny of poor people to educationists, top military officers, successful business persons, medical officers, accomplished public servants, police officers, human relations managers, nurses, scientists, and economists etc. We owe him tons of gratitude.  May his soul rest in perfect peace!

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