KATANGA IS 5O YEARS TODAY: FELLOWS! THE LEGEND LIVES ON

University hall, otherwise known as Katanga, of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is 50 years old today!
Spearheaded by the Alumni Association, a number of activities are being planned to mark the festivities throughout the year. As a precursor to the anniversary, a Golden Jubilee Press Launch was held on 3rd November 2012 at Alisa Hotel, Ridge in Accra. The theme for the Golden Jubilee is ‘50 Years At The Heart of KNUST: A Significant Milestone In The Advancement of Science and Technology’. The hall intends to use the occasion to bring to public awareness the significant roles it has played in academia, in relation to the advancement of Science and Technology, and on the national front over the years.
Being part of Katanga is more than just being part of a hall. Fellows are part of a brotherhood, nay a fellowship. From different backgrounds, with names countless and varied, some well known by their nicknames more than their formal names, the common thread is that Fellows belong to the noble hall, the hall of gentlemen, the University hall. The thoughts, words and deeds of Katanga have contributed, in no small way, to shaping the socio-political landscape of not only KNUST but Ghana as a whole.
A bit of history.
The hall was built to commemorate the attainment of University status of the Kumasi College of Technology and officially named “University Hall”. It was dedicated by Mr. Kwaku Boateng, the then Minister of Education, on 19th January, 1963. At that time, very few students in Ghana pursued their education up to the university level. In 1964, the hall was converted into a hall for post-secondary level entry. The plan was to convert it into a hall where exceptional students (who had excelled in the secondary level of education) would be groomed in preparation for embarking on undergraduate and postgraduate programs. The belief was that grouping such talents for a couple of years and providing them with exclusive education would unearth their innate qualities, which could in turn spur technological advancements in Ghana and Africa as a whole. In September of 1967, however, this plan was abandoned and the hall reverted to its status as a regular hall for university status. The fact remains, and worthy of note, that the hall started with very bright students who exuded the confidence, creativity, energy and exuberance of youth – the very essence of the Katanga spirit!
The legend of University Hall has a lot to do with its history and how it came to be known as KATANGA. Just before the hall was inaugurated, the Republic of Congo in Central Africa, with Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister, had been experiencing the early and unstable years of post-independence, reminiscent of many African countries. This situation was exacerbated when the Katanga province re-ignited its long-held desire to secede from the rest of the Congo Republic. The Congolese central government strongly opposed this secession idea.
Not only was the Katanga province one of the most mineral rich and developed regions within Congo but also one of the most feared and revered. The Government felt that allowing any form of secession at that tender age of the newly independent nation would spell doom. The events that followed led to the Congolese civil war that eventually culminated in the overthrow of Patrice Lumumba in 1960.
In 1961 Lumumba was kidnapped, tortured and later assassinated in Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga. Other unfortunate events in Congo during that period included the assassination of the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld. Many African countries, including Ghana, contributed troops to the UN peace-keeping force in the Congo, which later led to the end of the civil war. Katanga and Katangese became household names and were revered as the most important corner posts of the conflict.
Perhaps it was their unyielding zeal and aptitude in intelligently determining their own destinies and those they could aptly associate with, that members of the University Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in seeing a parallel to the events in Congo, decided to adopt the name Katanga, not as a prelude to secession but as an indication of their uniqueness, compared to the rest of the then University.
This was because the hall was rich in resources (human resources) and was of course different from the other halls. Indeed Katanga, up until the Brunei (GUSS Hostel) was built, was geographically set away from all the other halls which are within easy reach of each other and thus, it did offer a community of its own. As well, any fight to defend students rights either on campus or nationwide has been planned, influenced or led from Katanga which then saw itself as the defender of the defenseless, equating to the fearless valour of the Congolese people of Katanga!
With this drive came the Katangese’s desire to be original, unique and excel in everything as well as maintain the essential cultural elements of the body politic. In line with this, the first hall president was nicknamed Moise Tsombe (after the then leader of the Katanga province).
University Hall was transmogrified into Katanga Hall. The hall then adopted the motto “Rest Not” which is aptly depicted by a logo showing a student sitting on a pile of books whilst reading one in his hands. You will find this logo also beautifully sculpted into a statue known as Sir John at the frontal of the hall and just by the potters’ lodge at the entrance to the hall. The legend of Sir John is to study hard and play hard – a first class student who is as comfortable at his book as he is in leading proce and jama, an all-rounder, first amongst equals! It is interesting to note that this ideology has led to most of the first class results coming from Katanga, as the University records have it.
Notable amongst some personalities who have passed through Katanga and have served in various capacities and still contributing to the nation’s developments are Sir P.V. Obeng, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission and Chairman of the University Council – KNUST (a member of former President Rawlings’ government); Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye, the Inspector General of Police; Mr. Ibrahim Adam, a former minister of Agriculture; Mr. Osei-Kyei Mensa-Bonsu, Minority Leader in the current Parliament; Mr. Kobby Acheampong, former Deputy Minister for the Interior; Mr. Mike Hamah, former Minister for Lands and Minerals; Mr. Benjamin Dabrah, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Ghana and the late former Vice President Aliu Mahama amongst several others.
These personalities have joined others in the Katanga Alumni Association to give back what their hall offered them to become what they are today. The Alumni Association has contributed immensely over the years in cash donations and the provision of some amenities for students in the hall.
This year, it plans to undertake a number of projects including the renovation and refurbishment of the hall’s tennis and basket ball courts as well as the e-book project (which will link students to the internet from the comfort of their rooms for research and library materials), having already assisted in the purchase of DJ/PA system and musical instruments last year. Other Alumni groups abroad like the United Kingdom and United States chapters are equally making frantic efforts to support the hall. Newly formed branches like the Kumasi Alumni and the Sekondi-Takoradi Alumni are also coming of age.
Controversy has occasionally shrouded the image of the hall, and in the past some acts of advocacy have, unfortunately, generated misconceptions and unnecessary excesses. The Alumni Association’s pivotal role has been to give counsel and orientation to the young men and to guide them along the way. Fortunately, this innovation is yielding remarkable results.
Often held at Alisa Hotel at Ridge in Accra, the national Executives of the Katanga Alumni organise the ‘Legends Nite’ program which brings all Fellows to eat, wine, dance, to plan and strategize in support of their Alma Mater. Recently, a group of ladies including spouses, girl friends and partners of Fellows, fascinated by the Katanga brand have come together to form the ‘Fellowaa Association’ with the sole aim of assisting their male counterparts to support the hall. Invariably, ‘Fellows of Katanga’, ‘Fellowaas of Katanga’ and ‘Friends of Katanga’ all go by the acronym F.O.K.
Despite the many challenges faced by students on campus, the hall today still remains a unique place for intellectual enhancement, development of talents and fulfillment of other curricula while combining pleasure with academic pursuit. Last year, the hall was adjudged the best male tertiary hall in the country by WAVE International, a Youth Development NGO. Katanga within the past five years has won the Inter-University Debate Competition on three consecutive occasions and have been semi-finalists once.
The choruses of the Sacred Choir in ‘morale songs’ and the occasional ‘Charging’ by the firing of canons or metal bombs (used to be bamboo muskets) among other leisure activities all add to the excitement and fun which characterize the Katanga experience – always one of a lifetime!
The name Katanga today stands tall not just as a hall but also as a brand which is fast catching the eyes of many admirers beyond this country.
Undoubtedly, love them or loathe them, you will find the true character of the Katangese well encapsulated in the lyrics of the hall’s anthem:
We are the heart of UST
Katanga is our name
The hall of real intellectuals
The University hall
A united family
Of brothers
We Rest Not
All hail Katangees
We are the great Fellows
Katanga! (again!)
Katanga! (again!)
The hall of gentlemen
All hail Katangees
We are the great Fellows!
Happy Anniversary Fellows… The Legend lives on!
Fellows! Charge!
Source: Katanga Alumni Association
Website: www.katangaweb.com

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One Response to KATANGA IS 5O YEARS TODAY: FELLOWS! THE LEGEND LIVES ON

  1. Long Live katanga, Long Live KNUST, Long Live Nana Awere Damoah. 🙂

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