Life-story of Mr. Asueme
I was born at Wiaga Farensa, a small section of Wiaga, a village within the Builsa Traditional area, in the year 1922. My father was Asueme Ayombil, a peasant farmer, who owned by tradition a piece of land roughly six acres large through which the family derived its live-hood. Out of the five children, four sons and a daughter, I was the eldest child of them all. In those days, moral censure was severe and so our parents were careful to start at the very early stages training us on the basis of the traditional moral precepts.
During my childhood, my recreational activities were multifarious, among these, archery, wrestling and tree-climbing were noticeably prominent, the excellent performance of which vividly impressed my seniors, adults and my equals, which won to my credit, their ultimate admiration. Upon this, I was made the leader by the members of my age group to lead them in the monthly intersectional juvenile competitive contests in archery, wrestling and tree-climbing, to the [?] I left home.
At the age of thirteen years, I was sent away from home to stay with my brother who was then enrolled in the then Gold Coast Constabulary (Northern Territories Division) at Navrongo, the capital town of the Navrongo District.
In 1933 he was posted from Navrongo to the Provincial Headquarters at Gambaga. Towards the close of that same year, he was again posted to Tamale, the Capital town of the then Northern Territories (now separated into Northern and Upper Ghana).
How I went to school [in Tamale]:
One afternoon, in the month of February 1934, I was playing and wrestling with my friends on a field near the barracks, when suddenly we heard the melodious music of the school band. We stopped all that we were doing automatically and listened to the sweet music being played, spell-bound. In a few moments we saw at a distance, the school children, neatly dressed in white smocks, which appearance looked like the assembly of cattle-egrets, approaching the town football field. Their teachers also in the same apparel flanked them. It was obviously understood that they were about to play a football match against one of the town teams. Rightly so, they were to play a football match against the team of the Sanitary Department.
The game started after the then District Commissioner, Mr. Captain Miller, who was six feet tall, strong and well built, had taken the "kick off" at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. The game attracted a tremendous crowd of spectators, children, men and women.
While the game was in full progress, the school band supplied tuneful music which cheered up the players and interested the spectators. Both teams played fairly and decently throughout a mids hearty applauses from the crowded spectators who encircled the football field. The game ended at 5 p.m. with 3 points to 1 point against the team of the Sanitary Department. The school children and their sympathizers became jubilant and shouted to the highest peak of their voices over their well deserved victory.
When the game ended the school children quickly mustered themselves, with the band in progress, left the field in the same manner as they came in.
It was after this that three friends and I irrevocably resolved that we would seek enrolment into the school. We thought that if we became school boys, we could also play very well as the school children did, this simple conclusion of ours motivated us to follow the school children to the school in pursuit of seeking admission into the school. On arrival, we were sent by one of the school prefects to the school "Naa" (in Dagbani this means School Chief or School Senior Prefect). He fed and accommodated us for the night and promised to take us to the headmaster the next morning.
At same [time?], the blast of the school bugle was sounded for reveille. The children woke up, rolled up their mats and blankets and swept the rooms clean. Then followed the general cleaning of the school compound, classrooms and offices, to 6 a.m. At 6 a.m. prompt the bugle sounded the second time for the checking of the school roll. After checking the pupils, the morning activities were distributed. This work lasted from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. From 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 a.m., bath, breakfast and the final preparations for the morning session.
At the time the school was assembled under the Flag-Staff for classes, the school "Naa" sent to call the four of us. We instantly responded to his call. He led us to the Headmaster's Office and briefly told him the purpose of our mission and then quickly left to join his class mates before the first lesson began.
The Headmaster welcomed and greeted us with broad facial expressions indicating delight and approval of our mission. He judiciously interrogated us upon relevant facts concerning ourselves which we satisfactorily supplied. He noted then carefully on a piece of paper. With a very deep voice, he said "My sons, I am really happy to see you volunteering to be enrolled into the school".
His being happy about us was due to the following reasons. In those days it was extremely difficult to get admissions into the schools because parents or guardians vehemently resented the notion of their children being admitted into the school.
The cause of this was the following reasons:
(i) Parents or guardians felt that school education might influence their children to depart completely from the tribal traditions and culture.
(ii) That when their children received European education, they might have the tendency of copying the European habits wrongly or blindly and look down and despise them.
(iii) The basic concept of the tribe is Agriculture, but when their children received education, they trend to abhor manual labour.
(iv) That when their children completed school, they would not be allowed to remain at home and work but were taken away from home to work at far and distant places.
(v) Tending the livestock, parents needed their children to take charge of that responsibility. Hereby leaving them free to work on their farms.
The Headmaster led us to the Office of the Provincial Inspector of Schools in the Northern Territories. He introduced the four of us to him and handed over at the same time the piece of paper which contained our particulars. Having glanced at the notes, he expressed the same delight as the Headmaster did before. He interviewed us individually. After this he said "you are all from the barracks" and we nodded approval in response. We were than asked to wait in the chief clerk's office until he ranged the Police Commissioner to contact our parents or guardians in order to obtain their approval and ultimate consent.
The reply came at a reasonable time and carried with it the final consent of our parents that we should be admitted into the school. When we were told this, we were very happy and satisfied that we started dancing before the School Inspector and the Headmaster. In other ways they also showed how glad they were. We were then sent to the Kindergarten School though we were above the age of twelve years. In those days all new arrivals of the school were sent to the Kindergarten regardless of age limit of course from twelve to fifteen years old.
We were particularly proud to be pupils of this school because it was the only Mother School of all the schools in the Protectorate. It was fed annually by the following junior Boarding Schools: Gambaga, Wa, Salaga, Kete-Krachi and Lawra. (Note: Those underlined were not affected very much because they were on the Trunk Roads). Successful candidates from each of the above schools had to foot all the way from the above mentioned schools to continue their education at Tamale, and to foot back carrying their luggage on heads and shoulders on vacation days. The reason being that transportation facilities we unobtainable at the time.
Thanks to God the Almighty! We exclaimed in chorus. Finally we became members or pupils of the school we so longed for.
It was just at the beginning of the first school term at the Kindergarten school, my classwork was considered to be very good. In class one, I worked so hard that I was promoted to class two at the beginning of the second term. I continued to do exceedingly well in my exercises and was again promoted to class three, after half the term. This meant that I successfully covered the work of the above classes in one year (1934).
In 1935, I won promotion to Standard 1 (Now Primary Form 4) and in the following year 1936, I was promoted to Standard 2 (Pr. Form 5). In 1937 I was promoted from Standard 2 (Pr. Form 5) [to] Standard 4 (M1) at the Tamale Government Senior Middle Boarding School - that was a jump over Standard 3 (Pr. Form 6). I continued to work very hard at my lessons, but this time, no more further jumps until I reached Standard 7 (M. Form 4) in 1940.
In December 1940 we entered for the Standard 7 final examination and when the results were published, I was very successful and was awarded the Standard 7 certificate.
Throughout my school life, I took keen interest in the following: Footballing, sports and dramatization. I was a member of the school team and played several matches for the school. On one of these matches the team had the occasion of beating the team of the French Government School of Wagadugu - Upper Volta, 20 goals to 0.
I also dramatized for the school at important occasions such as celebration of Empire Days and Durbars of Chiefs. In 1941 I was appointed a pupil teacher and posted to the first Builsa Native Administration School (Old Primary) Sandema, established in 1936.
At the end of 1941, that was the beginning of 1942, I was awarded Government scholarship to train as a teacher at Achimota College (Prince of Wales College) Accra. I entered the College in 1942 and completed at the end of 1945 qualifying for the Gold Coast (Ghana) Teacher's Certificate "A".
At the beginning of 1946 I was appointed 2nd Division Teacher by the Government, and posted to the same Builsa Native Administration junior Boarding School - Sandema, which post I held until I resigned in 1952 and was reinstated in 1959 till I finally retired from the Ghana Teaching Service on November 1, 1967 and now my work is farming and a voluntary Catechist to the Roman Catholic Church in Sandema.
I married Dorothy Afoko Afeley, the daughter of Afoko, the late Paramount chief of the Builsa state in April 1941 a year before I entered the Training College. We have been blessed by the Omnipotent with 8 children, 3 sons and 5 daughters, and also four grandchildren.
The family practises the Roman Catholic Faith.
P.S.: In 1938 the teacher who opened the First Builsa Native Administration School in 1936, died. The school was left without a teacher to look after the children. I was then in Standard 5 (M2) when I was brought from Tamale to take care of the children until a qualified teacher was found: I held the school for 2 months, April and May 1938. A Government Teacher was sent to release me to return to school at Tamale, but owing to language difficulties, I was detained to be with him until he was able to manage with the children. I left him of the school in the middle of June to return Tamale to continue with my work.
The teacher who died was Mr. Harold Anyaseobai Assibi and the teacher who released me was Mr. Rowland Mahama Yakubu. Yakubu retired as Regional Education Officer.