Ben Dotse Malor writes: Ghana’s NSMQ grand finale – A David versus Goliaths affair

The 2021 Grand Finale of the NSMQ, on this Friday, 26th November 2021 is proving to be a veritable case of one David pitched against not just one Goliath but two.

PRESEC (Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School from Legon-Accra) have been dominant over the years, with six trophies to their name – 1995, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2020. They’re now hungry for a seventh, using the catchphrase “We are SEVEN a living God.”

PREMPEH COLLEGE, from the nation’s second-largest city, Kumasi, are also a force to reckon with because they’ve won the trophy four times already 1994, 96, 2015 and 2017. They too desperately want a fifth championship. Two remarkable giants who were in the grand finale last year. They command respect but should not be feared.

Then comes the newbies from the south-eastern coastal sands of Ghana’s Atlantic shores, my Alma Mater, KETASCO (Keta Senior High Technical School, Keta SHTS.) They’ve not won the trophy before. In fact, they’ve not been here before. Here is a mixed (or co-ed) school battling two boys’ schools, with the new catchphrase, “GOD of 1ders.”

In many ways, Ketasco – the underdog contestants – represent the hope and aspirations of many non-city-based high (or secondary) schools across Ghana. Ketasco could be seen as an unfancied soccer club – like Leicester city in the English Premier League – managing, through hard work, tough preparations, and grace to stand up to the dominance of the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City or Arsenal.

You can also liken Ketasco to an under-appreciated a team like the Milwaukee Bucks standing up to the giants of US Basketball, such as the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics, or the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ketasco also represents the less-resourced, often-overlooked, and less regarded but hardworking high schools across the country. They also represent any high school that has been subjected to some benign disrespect from the more prominent, more popular, and better-resourced top schools in Ghana.

The youngest of the three finalists have been building their reputation steadily over the years. Ketasco have made it to the semi-finals on three previous occasions. Now, the team of Bright Senyo Gadzo, Francisca Lamini, and James Lutterodt is aiming for a major story out of Friday’s competition. Indeed, it would be a more dramatic achievement if they could overcome all the odds and win the 2021 trophy, by defeating not one, but two Goliaths.

Whatever the outcome, Ketasco already deserves every applause for breaking through this year as the first high school from the Volta Region to reach the grand finale.

This is no mean feat, and for many old students, this alone calls for a lot of gratitude and appreciation, even though winning the trophy would elicit more gratitude and praise. In a way, Ketasco, must be feeling a sense of moral victory by what they’ve achieved this year already.

Some “observers are worried”. Others are conflicted. Some folks seem quite dismissive and even hostile about the chances of Ketasco, for reasons best known to them.

When you consider those with genuine concerns then you must consider Dr Edem Agamah, an oncologist/hematologist who is currently a professor at the Southern Illinois University Medical School. You need to spare a thought for him because Professor Agamah attended Ketasco (Form 1 to 5) and then moved to Presec (6th Form) before entering the University of Ghana Medical School, where he qualified as a medical doctor. You wonder which team he would be rooting for.

In terms of solidarity and support, I’ve urged one old student of highly-regarded Mfantsipim School, who are not in contention this year, that Mfantsipim folks must support Ketasco because Kwabotwe boys owe Ketasco a debt.

This assertion is based on the simple fact that Ketasco nurtured and delivered one of the notable Headmasters of Mfantsipim School, Mr JW Abruquah, who left Ketasco in 1963 as an Assistant Headmaster to take up the Headmastership of the giant Cape Coast school. In fact, Ketasco still has a house named after Mr Abruquah – House 3 or Yellow House – my house.

I have observed several people – from all three schools – seeking to invoke Divine help for their teams. This is quite dicey, and I’m careful, as a firm believer in God, that I do not call on Him to take sides at this time. However, I do believe firmly that God will only support or favour the team that is best prepared, best focused, and sharpest on the day.

I have been touched by a caption I saw on a t-shirt won by the only girl in the grand finale, Francisca Lamini of Ketasco, and it says, “GOD NO GO SHAME US.” I love this caption. I believe in it. One can only hope that Francisca’s brilliant showing as the only girl finalist, can also attract a good amount of support from all the women and girls of Ghana, including the team from the much-admired WeyGeyHey, who came second to Ketasco in one of the semi-final duels.

So, with the stage set for the big climax this Friday, my mind says “may the best school win”. However, my heart yearns to see David overpower the Goliaths of Ghana’s National Science and Maths Quiz. What a great story it would make.

I am with the lone girl standing among the boys. I am with the school featuring the only girl in their team. I am with Francisca – a Davida with two Davids against the forces of two Goliaths. We hope.
More power to Dzo Lali – Fly Now. Now or Never.


Source: Ben Dotsei Malor

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