I heard about the City on the Hill long before I wrote my wassce, the City where truth resides, not sitting, but standing for all to see. They had caught the attention of the media when they strongly resisted attempts by University management to convert the Hall into a Post- Graduate mixed gender hall. This was after some residents of the Hall had heckled former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, during the 2010 congregation. I wondered, as I read the news in the comfort of the dilapidated School Library at Somanya, what on earth could motivate these young men to be this daring.
A brief history
The first batch of students were admitted into the hall in the 1957-1958 academic year. History has it that students admitted into the Hall were “younger, more spirited Common- wealth men, considered less mature and less responsible by their senior fellows, are said continually to have engaged in raucous drink-sprees and generally loud carousing…” (Vlach, 1971,p33-34). The narrative explains further that the “irresponsible” attitude of the vandals infuriated one of the senior citizens (old man resident in another hall). He had apparently had enough of the young lads and remarked “Quiet, you VANDALS”; he not only ended up venting his anger, but had given birth to a name that will for many years to come be the name of residents of this City. Despite their so called irresponsible attitude, vandals equaled the senior citizens in the exam that was written later as well in other extra-curricular activities.
Four years later, the spirit of vandalism that had been ignited in the past seemed to be waning. Jones Ofori-Atta voiced his opinion about this development at a Dinner and suggested the formation of a “Vandal Cabinet” to address this. The recommendation of the group was “that their philosophy needed an object upon which energetic zealots could lavish their devotion” (Vlach, 1971,p35). Bacchus, god of wine in Mythology was their choice. This was not only informed by the fact that this deity boasted of a long tradition of international devotees, but more importantly, he provided a sanction for their mischievous drinking habits.
What is vandalism?
Bacchus thus became the rallying point, the epicenter of the philosophy which had now become so popular and gladly referred to as vandalism. A line from the Commonwealth Hall Newspaper, the Echo(29, no. 4, 6 December 1969, p. 2) explicitly explains vandalism;
Vandalism is the spirit that dwells in Vandal City alone and infuses courage and fearlessness into the citizens herewithin. Vandalism is the secular spirit of oneness, brotherliness, selflessness and devotedness that gives a common identity to all the sons of the Great Father. It is the same spirit that makes watch dogs of human liberty and provides the yardstick for dignity.
What the future holds for Vandals
Opinions about vandals may differ, their role in contemporary times may be quite debatable, but their survival does not depend on how alive or dead the god of wine is. Their survival will rely on how the current crop of vandals will develop their traditions to meet the needs of the current student front. Vandals in the early stages of their birth had this as their anthem;
When Adam went out to shit, Paper was not invented. He took some grass and wiped his ass, And went away contented. When Eve also went to shit, Paper was not invented. She took some grass and did the same, And went away content
Vandals will forever remain a strong force, but posterity will judge them on how they impact positively on the student front. I know they will not fail the student front. While they celebrate their Hall Week, a quotation from the satyre by John Donne is the best adios
“On a huge hill, cragged, and steep,
Truth stands and hee that will Reach her,
about must, and about must goe”
Relied heavily on
Father Bacchus and Other Vandals: Folklore at the University of Ghana Author(s): John M. Vlach in getting information for this exposition