HE CAME, HE SAW, HE CONQUERED
Tribute to R.T Sackey, Former Headmaster Of Prempeh College (1985-95)
By Appiah Kusi Adomako (Amanfour, G’berg House 95)
During the latter part of the twentieth century, I got admitted into Prempeh College. My decision to attend Prempeh College that time was based on myriad of factors which included the quality of learning environment, discipline and for my dad, the location factor. I found the school-the learning environment and landscape to be academically uplifting.
Ruben Tetteh Sackey (aka Tusker or R.T), who a decade earlier had taken the tutelage of the school from M.K Atiemo as the headmaster, had the onerous task of a “system restore” of the school to meet the designs of the Founding Fathers. He worked hard as a headmaster to raise the profile of the school and it became like a city on a hill. Today, Prempeh College continues to produce more science and engineering students for universities than any school in the country.
When I first entered the school in 1993, Prempeh College was more than a military camp. Strict enforcement of rules and regulation was a daily staple. All school gatherings were compulsory. Even tutors were required to attend morning devotion/assembly and those tutors who absented themselves were penalized. He was present at every official gathering of the school and he would seize the opportunity to talk to his “ gentlemen” and garnish his admonitions with some maxims in Latin. One particular saying which is still green in my mind which I would not forget even on my deathbed is: “memento te mortalem esse” -meaning, “remember that you are mortal”.
During his time at Prempeh College, the schedule for morning assembly was designed in such a way that every Monday morning was “courtesy campaign” where ethics, etiquettes, and rules for good living were preached and taught. His two favourites hymns which never got missing during a major events were “How Sweet the Name of Jesus” and “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun”
At Prempeh College during the time of R.T Sackey, cheating in end of term or year examinations was tantamount to dismissal. Such letters were common during his days. He was someone who would never bend the rule to favour the rich or the poor. Leaving campus without an attracted suspension at the first instance and the second offence was dismissal.
Prempeh College during R.T Sackey’s time was very nostalgic. My best moments growing up in life were at Prempeh College. It became a watershed for me. It was the place where I picked the best friends I have. He inspired us. R.T Sackey was phenomenal. The school won the first then Brilliant Science and Mathematics Quiz in 1994. When the first batch of Senior Secondary School results became a national opprobrium, he provided a leadership which put Prempeh College results among the best in the following year.
He told us that he did not only want to raise men who were great in minds, but also men who were strong. Every student during his time was required to come to school with a well sharpened cutlass and a hoe. That was to say that weeding of lawns also become part of the integrated training at Sofoline.
He was a strong man. He had the courage to take decisions which were not popular even among his staff. The greatness of R. T Sackey lied in the fact that he was both tough-minded and tenderhearted. He was characterized by incisive thinking, realistic appraisal and decisive judgment. His strong austere qualities made for his firmness of purpose and he achieved a lot for the school.
It was Martin Luther King Jr who once said in life there are some sad moments which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. Such is the moment we are experiencing-the death of R. T Sackey.
Like Robert Kennedy, he braved the disapproval of his fellows and the censure of his colleagues. He had a moral courage to do what was right and he was convinced of the same.
Death has punctuated the great sentence of the life and times of R.T Sackey. Again, Martin Luther King Jr reminds us that “death is not period that punctuates the sentence of life but a comma that punctuates it to a lofty significance.” Anytime I visit Prempeh College, I look at the Assembly Hall and say to myself, R.T Sackey lives with us in time, hearts and minds. The boys he groomed are an eternal reminder about the great feat he achieved for Ghana and beyond.
Today as we celebrate the life of R.T Sackey, I would quote a requiem verse he liked to quote from the Greek New Testament: “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
It is sad to lose a loved one. It is sad to stand before the bier of great man like R.T Sackey. To the family, I know that nothing that I say or write can bring comfort to you. Nothing that anyone else can say can bring comfort. But the words of a Galilean peasant :” peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. Certainly our hearts are not troubled because we know that God stands with his own not only in the noon time of self-actualization and fulfillment but in the midnight of despair and sorrow. We are overcomers.
The solemn words of Isaac Watts so wonderfully assures us:
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.
We shall meet on the streets of New Jerusalem and we shall say that “ Oh death, where is your victory?”
Appiah Kusi Adomako,
Prempeh College Old Student
Guggisberg House (1993-1995)