I think anyone who steps in Kumasi should take a peep inside KNUST and see what Ghana’s leading university is made of. It’s named after first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and follows it up with a lot of other firsts. Kofi Annan was here as a student, you know? Those were the good old days. A lot has gone on since then.
There are six halls of residence; Unity, Independence, Republic, Queens, Africa and University. They all have some beautiful tradition and love to stick to it….the Spartan spirit of Indece, the Continental spirit of Unity, the Katanga spirit of University, the Mongol of Republic, the Royal of Queens and the African ladies calling themselves Domites. We have the Naija and continental faithful en-masse at Brunei, kind of like a foreign student hostel. So what happens in every one of them? Let’s go to….
Here is probably the neatest hall on campus. Forgive the bias but I totally enjoyed my year in 188M. What with a room of four totally different ‘inmates’ and crazy too!!!! Kofi Amoako Amoantwi, Leon Otoo and Theophilus Yankey won’t forgive me. Indece is one of three mixed halls and I can say, the center of all the action on campus (except when Republic Hall week comes up). If you are inside on Tuesday evening, don’t miss service with Harvest Chapel and then you can also catch all the Champions League action live in the courtyard. Catch (absolutely) free Salsa lessons on Friday nights and badminton warm-up everyday before lectures. Take a swipe at pool if you are any good and then get a drink while you’re still inside the JCR. If you love grill, you can get sausages and khebab on fire on your way inside, or step inside Indece supermarket for your Ghanaian souvenir shopping and ice-cream. Fans’ favourite gɔbɛ (ok! don’t be so naïve. The whole campus loves beans with plantain and a sprinkling of ‘cassava flakes’….if you get what I mean) is on sale in the market and you can pamper yourself with Abusua restaurant’s splash of local and continental dishes. Get connected with e-campus Wi-Fi anywhere and just be sure to stay away when it’s your birthday. The ponds get ruffled.
What to look out for: A sculpture of a Spartan athlete running with a Spartan flag, probably after winning a race.
We’ll walk five minutes up the street from Indece and we’re here already. Queen’s is actually Queen Elizabeth III hall. I used to go there for all my shopping. Well, the whole campus does. And if you don’t go there for same reason or some study or other meeting, a photo shoot or just plain looking around, Queen’s isn’t really inviting any. Oh, I forgot! The café. Second best to Republic Hall’s though but a good reason to step in anyway. Then there’s the gym. I think gyms are lousy especially if you can find a tennis court. When you are looking for anything, just ask. Royals are some of the most welcoming people on earth….the reason why that makes the market centre. Get kelewele straight from the fire, fried rice at it’s junky best and the all other fun delicacies that make your wallet dry and your mouth water. The annex is for the ladies only (sorry, guys) and a biased blend of residence at the main hall is what makes Queen’s so laughed away for being overly ladies-conscious. And the name too!!! How adorable!
What to look out for: Food. You’re probably hungry.
There’s too much to write about the Mongols so you may really want to look in if you are around. The shuttles stop right in front so you just have to walk in past a very huge statue of a rooster crowing it all away. Before you go in, get extra cash at the ATMs at the Royal Parade Grounds if you wish. Then walk right in!
When I step in, I usually walk straight up to the café. I never use the wi-fi even though bandwidth is good. Then check out a game of basketball at the courtyard. There’s always one in the evening and Mongols like to stand around watching their boys make baskets all over the place. The SRC and Protestant Chaplaincy are headquartered here and then you can find also some beautiful sculptures gracing the lawns and welcome-guiding you along. What I love about Republic Hall is the architecture; the whole main hall is a labyrinth you can spend your afternoon getting lost about. So if you find your way again by evening, stop at the JCR and get a drink….or play pool, or play FIFA or dance.
What makes Republic Hall popular GH-wide is their hall week. Never been in one but I know all sorts of things go on in there…enough to make UG and the whole country troop in. They get the biggest sponsorships for these things, and sometimes, they just go crazy about it all. Enough said for the Mongols. Enough said!!
What to look out for: Dunks. You’ll probably see the best ballers do the best of them.
When you walk a little down the street and behind Republic, you see cadet corps trooping in front of West Africa’s largest hall. Unity Hall! They call themselves Continentals (think it’s got some to do with continental unity). If you approach the entrance to Unity, you’ll always find guys sitting on two bench rows so you have to walk through them. That’s where the fun starts. You can hear anything about anything. Including X-rated stuff!!
You see, Unity Hall has tradition. The whole hall is like a clan. And like all clans, there are Dos and Don’ts. Like, NEVER, EVER wear RED into the hall if you are a lady. EVER!!
They love it!
You can try it if you are daring enough and love fun too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It can be straightly embarrassing. They’ll come saucepan-clanging at you, doing the push-ups at your feet and chorusing…. “Kɔkɔɔɔ oooo Kɔkɔɔ!!!” The whole Hall! Let me help you. It means, “Red oooooo Red!!’ And it don’t even matter if exams are going on. You’ll sweat it.
Unity Hall has a courtyard meant for basketball. If you ever play, then you will be standing in-between two gigantic eight-storeyed, two-rows-per-floor buildings. If you got that, it means that, if each row were detached, there’ll be sixteen floors per block. That makes thirty two floors altogether and West Africa’s most populous hall.
Inside Unity, take some of the best photos at Studio 225. That’s where I did my project printing too. Then shop at Conti Supermarket, get arguably the best gɔbɛ (it’s so much of a big deal, you’ll see), and then there’s a place where you can get the best stews for your cooking. Oh, I forgot to say! Unity is one of two all-guys halls. That explains the ‘Lady-In-Red’ thing and the stews bit too. Guys don’t cook much, you know? There’s so much spirit in Unity. They’re so on edge like guys waiting to mutiny. If you really want the total Continental experience, wait till evening, get Ice cream from the supermarket, stand in the courtyard and watch them drum and sing non-stop for close to three hours. Unbelievable stuff!! You’ll enjoy it best if you don’t understand one bit of all they’re singing….otherwise, it’s not even rated 18.
What to look out for: Aboagyewaa! A seated, sad-looking statue of a lady in the never-used fountain/pool area with a bottle of something sitting beside her. History.
If you stay in or out of Africa by 11pm, you’re locked. And the worst part, it’s an all-ladies hall, if you are a guy and thought that getting locked wasn’t a big deal. Granted, they’ve got some of the best lawns and sculpture but they also are the smallest of all the halls!! So when you get to the car-park, you’ll see A Lot of cars. Not that so many ladies drive; there are so many driving guys looking for them up those floors. There’s even a lame old-lady’s lore that perpetuates the notion that if Africa’s two floors collapsed any day, there’ll be so much more guy casualty than ladies. I told you it was lame.
So be sure to check out the Chapel at the basement, check out the salon (for the ladies), pick a gift item right outside and take pictures too. Taste fantastic grill at the car-park and wash it all down with a bottle of campus-make-initiated-now-country-wide fresh yoghurt from the JCR. Study and have parties at the JCR if you please but be sure to get everything done and your guests gone before it strikes that evil hour before mid-night. You might just have to get lodging too if you don’t. It’s advocated security for the ladies borne of experience.
What to look out for: Beautiful ladies. Otherwise, nothing!
Africa is also in the middle of an eternal fairy-tale tussle between the two all-guy halls, Unity and…
Katanga! <Kat> <Katangee> <Fellow>
They all apply! And my vote will give it to the Fellows as the most organised bunch of upset guys you’ll ever meet in your life. The entrance to the hall greets you with a sculpture of a certain young man who, as though to tell you you are not welcome, is seated with his back to the street (and to you, because you’ll be coming by the street, yeah?), reading. That is the first.
Next, you’ll walk into a hall that is probably more fraternal than Unity. Once in a while, these two brawl. And it is an accepted norm that all football matches between them end with the score at 1:0. One team scores, the other team disputes the goal, there is a little exchange of fist power and the game comes to an end.
Don’t ever use the middle lane that connects the two parallels of the main hall if you are a lady, and again, never, never wear red. Watch out for a sculpted traditional priest standing at a pool in the centre of the hall, and probably stay clear altogether if you believe old ladies’ tales. Look in the dining hall for an epic painting of the story of mankind from the Garden to Glory on the wall and also check out the café. If you are hungry, grab a bite at the bazaar on the dais of the car park and then sit and watch. Watch the people. Watch the cars. Watch how they animate. And listen too. You might just hear something you love. Well, there’s a lot of XXX also. These male halls are the illegal, mutinous police of the school. More often than not, the plot and scheme in the open and then they rise to enact. Almost always, administration listens rather painfully, and even sends some boys home for damaged property, inciting rebellion or worse. Under the cloud of purported indiscipline, some of the country’s best gentlemen have come out of Katanga.
If there’s not much to keep you inside, don’t stay too long. Just be nice to the porter and be on your way.
What to look out for: Half-naked guys walking all over the place. Don’t worry!! They don’t notice you.
The Halls are fun. They make the spice of life on campus. And I think I got to go get some spice myself for dinner. We’ll be back, won’t we….I feel like I’ll be blogging Ghanaian English very very very soon….hehehehehe