Ghana National College is a senior high school in Cape Coast, Ghana. It is rated as one of the country’s top schools
It was founded on 20 July 1948, staffed by dismissed teachers from St Augustine’s College and Mfantsipim School. The college was founded by the first Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah using his own funds, for eight students who had been expelled by the British colonial administration from St Augustine’s College. The expulsion resulted from a protest march, held in solidarity with Nkrumah, who was then imprisoned. Ghana National College was established on Friday, 16 July 1948, in Cape Coast, during a period of agitation for self-government in the then Gold Coast. Ironically it was named Ghana National College nine years before The Gold Coast achieved independence in 1957, and the country was named Ghana.
Time line on the historical development of the school
28 February 1948 Tragedy at Christiansborg Castle and the shooting of ex-servicemen from the war for demonstrating for benefits blamed on Kwame Nkrumah for his radical tendencies and subsequently detained with six of his cohorts, Dr J. B. Danquah, Mr Edward Akufo-Addo, Mr William Ofori Atta, Mr Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, and Mr Ebenezer Ako-Adjei.
15 March 1948 Student protests in Cape Coast, in solidarity with the detained UGCC executives, result in the expulsion of 150 students from St Augustine’s 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. Augustine’s College and one from Mfantsipim School, are also revoked. The teachers are Mr Kwesi Plange, Mr J. J. Mensah-Kane, Mr H. P. Nelson and Mr H. W. K. Sackeyfio (Mfantsipim).
1 July 1948 Kwame Nkrumah, Secretary of the UGCC invites the above-mentioned teachers to his office in Saltpond and commissions Kojo Botsio to evaluate plans for starting a new school.
8 July 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 ODD Fellows at McCarthy Hill, Cape Coast.
16 July 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 Ghanaian society, among them:
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 career
Francis Kofi Ampenyi Allotey – world-renowned scientist and former Vice-Chancellor, UST.
19 July 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 realise a free and United Gold Coast and a United Africa.”
22 November 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 the board of governors from 1951 to 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 governors from 1951 to 1972. Classes are also held in the bedroom of the Temple-keeper. Michael Ato Wood composes the school hymn, “God Bless our Native Land”.
August 1952 J. J. Mensah-Kane becomes headmaster of the school, assisted by H. P. Nelson.
September 1952 J. J. Mensah-Kane and H. P. Nelson both leave for the UK for further studies as educators.
August 1956 The Governor-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.
1 January 1957 Mrs Elizabeth Ward-Brew offers her vacant residential complex at Wardbury Gardens at Kakumdo to house the boys.
6 March 1957 Dr Kwame Nkrumah becomes the Prime Minister of Ghana.
May 1957 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.
October 1957 J. J. Mendah-Kane returns from the UK to join the staff at the school teaching zoology at Siwdu.
1956–60 Construction of the new school buildings:
September 1960 J. J. Mensah-kane is appointed Assistant Headmaster and oversees moving the school from Siwdu to Mennya Mennwu (literally means “I didn’t die after all”).
September 1961 J. J. Mensah-Kane is appointed Headmaster.
July 1979 J. J. Mensah-Kane retires and will pass the baton to Mr S. E. Cobbold.
New House 1 is best girls house in the school Cinderella Newton[permanent dead link]
October 1987 Mr John Gyemfi, one of the students who moved in from Siwdu, took leadership.
September 1991 Mr Nuama-Hagan, an alumnus, becomes headmaster.
In 2014 the College created a Hall of Fame to honor alumni. The first inductees were Francis Allotey, Samuel Sefa-Dedeh, Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, Anthony Annan-Prah, David Taylor, Lee Tandoh-Ocran and Kobby A. Koomson. Other notable alumni include:
General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, 1st UNIFIL Commander
Gladys Asmah – Former minister of Fisheries
Anthony Annan – Ghanaian international footballer / Schalke 04
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