Leander Amoak ()



My Life





I, Mr Leander Amoak Asik, was born round about 1918 at the end of the First World War. The person, who told me about my birth date, was my own late brother Nasaamu Akanvuruk Asik; because he was among the last group caught to join the Gold Coast Regiment to re-enforce the first groups to win the battle. But by the time they were sent to the South (Kumasi etc.) for training, the first world war came to an end. The last batch was therefore engaged to work on projects in the South for about 18 months instead of returning home in time. Since his arrival [at Wiaga in 1920] he met me being born just very few months before and thus confirmed my birth date.


When I was about 9 years of age, that's in 1927, the Roman Catholic Missionary, Rev. Father Danzine, was the first parish priest with others to come to Bulsa and they finally settled in 1928 for religious work in Bulsa District, stationed at the centre Wiaga via Sandema U/R (N.Ts. [Northern Territories]). The White Fathers came earlier before that time [1927] and collected and recruited chief's sons etc. for their preliminary education and catechism purposes, e.g. the late Paramount Chief of Bulsa Akansugaasa, the present Wiaga chief Asiuk and others were among their first recruited pupils before 1927. The first missionaries established verbal Catechist training in the Mission. The inhabitants of Wiaga etc. were very wild [unwilling?] to approach them because of their white skins, their curling golden hair, their long noses and their blue eyes etc. For this reason the Missionaries adopted a sound method to attract the inhabitants and that was sparking a power saw at any time they saw a group of shepherds or people passing by. Each time they did that, many people used to come round to the point. Some believed that the sound meant that the white people were flying back to the sea or the country where they came from; and others believed that the Almighty was coming down etc.

Any time that the sound of [the] motor saw was on, those who wanted to see things for themselves, rushed there for facts finding. Each time children or people went to the Missionary point, they used to give them gifts etc., some got sweet food e.g. sugar, chocolates, cakes etc. including dresses. Some of course used to refuse and few received at the very beginning.

I can still remember that I, Leander Amoak, was one of those who were very timid and used to refuse the gifts any time I was offered, until 1929, before I became used to the white men.

The official opening of Wiaga Primary school was in 1930. The first pupils were only 24. Among them were the following: Mr. Robert Ayomah, educationist, Mr. J.P. Awogta, retired Local Council Treasurer etc.

In 1930, while I was playing local games (bie) with my mother and brothers under a shed at my father's house (Asik Yeri), there came one of the verbal catechists and one literate called Gabriel Amuru of Gbedema, who was the first Bulsa man to be taught how to read and write somewhere in 1919 or so, and took me to Wiaga St. Francis Primary School, where I started my schooling [in 1931]. In 1931 I was among the second group of enrolled pupils at Wiaga. Our number was increased to 30. The total number of pupils was therefore 54 in 1931. The first teachers - one Rev. father Coutey and one of the first recruited students (before 1926, in 1910 or so) called Mr. Gabriel Amura of Gbedema Old Chief's House.

It was not easy for a pupil to agree to go to school, but due to fear, few of us managed it and went through, despite the unbearable situations in all fields.

I attended the Wiaga Primary from 1931-1933. Unfortunately, in 1934, due to certain wars in Europe, the poor St. Francis Primary was closed down because of [the lack of] financial aid from abroad. Luckily enough, some of us were selected to continue our education at Navrongo Catholic Primary. In fact, it was difficult for some of us to understand the teacher's language, as they taught all lessons in Kasem language. We therefore appealed to the local manager, a White Father, of our difficulties in classes. He therefore got us one small boy called Rudolf Akanlu, now Bishop of Navrongo, whose father's house neared [was near to] Chuchuliga, and he could speak Buli a little and at the same time speak Kasem well to teach us the Kasem language during our spare periods. In 1935 there was a hunger strike at Navrongo Primary School, due to a similar lack of funds to feed the pupils, owing to overseas wars etc. Anyway, some or many of the pupils returned after a few days' strike, but I made my way to the South to join my late brother Asante who was then a cook in one of the Protestant missions at Kumasi, called Father John Evans. I continued my Primary six in the Protestant School (English Church) at Kumasi at the end of 1935. I came on leave from the South with the intention of going back and continue my Middle form over there, but fortunately or unfortunately I met my old colleagues from the Navrongo Seminary and was highly convinced [to go] back to the [Junior] Seminary (later called St Charles Middle School). While in the Middle School at Navrongo I was found to be very useful because of the Southern life, influence etc. I was interested in band music, and so I was made a second cornet instrument player. [I was also] very interested in drawing and painting etc. [and] very good in general weaving, especially in cloth weaving including belts etc. Leather work was my best hobby as well as basket weaving and pottery. In 1938, in Form III, I left Middle School with the intention of joining the then Gold Coast Police Force as a bandman, but my former Principal/Headmaster turned down my proposals. He therefore recommended me so highly to the Ministry of Education through the then District Commisioner called Captain Mothercil to the then Office i/c Ministry of Education, Northern Territories, Colonel Wentworth at Tamale. Viewing my outside activities in handicrafts etc. I was appointed Arts and Crafts teacher (pupil teacher) in 1938 ending, [at the] new Bulsa Native Administrative Primary (Sandema Old Primary School) until 1943. In 1944 I was recommended to a year's course at Tamale, the newly opened Art and Crafts Centre under one Mr. L.C. Gomez, Art master, and also to impart my local experience to the students. In 1945 I returned to Sandema and continued teaching at the same school. In 1946 I was transferred to Kasena-Nankanni Primary School at Chana, Navrongo District, until 1949. In the same 1949, September 1st to November 30th, I attended another course at Tamale Art Centre, and at the end of the course I was awarded a recognized certificate with credit by the Ministry to teach the mentioned subject in both Middle and Primary Schools in Ghana. In 1950 the Bulsa Paramount Chief Azantinlow and his sub-chiefs requested the Ministry of Education for my transfer back to Bulsa instead of other places, because I am a native of the place. In 1950 I was transferred back to Sandema Primary, my old station, [until] 1951. In 1952 I was again recommended to take a one year's advanced course in Arts and Crafts at the Tamale Teacher Training College. I successfully completed the course and was awarded the Teacher's Art and Crafts Certificate. In 1953 the Bulsa Native Authority Middle Boarding School was opened and luckily enough I was one of the first teachers appointed to teach there. We were only two members. The Headmaster was called Mr. M.P. Allotey from Accra and myself as Assistant. I taught in the above school for 20 years ranging from 1953 to 1973, before going on retirement at the end of the same year, December1973. I had done 35 years in the teaching field without any break of service (1938-1973). Having stayed for 4 years [at home], I was re-engaged to teach in my former school [Sandema Boarding School) in 1977 up to now. I have put up a square stone block building in my home town Wiaga near the market. [I] married four wives and [have] ten children. Just about 13 years ago, when I was seriously sick of my eyes (cataract) I went to many hospitals in Ghana and at the end I was operated upon. In 1967 when I was fully well, I was given medicated glasses and could see far and near.

On September 22, 1983, Gladys, Mr Leander’s eldest daughter, wrote in a letter to F. Kröger: ...Mr Leander Amoak, your friend, has expired. He died on the 30th of August. He was not well for just some few days. Even after that short period of sickness he recovered again. It was only one night, that he fell sick again and that was so serious that it sent him to his grave. He received your last letter dated 13th July before he died....

Addition by Danlardy Amoak Leander, Mr Leander’s eldest son:

As regards my father’s educational and political background, he was a strong supporter of the Progress Party (P.P.), which was led by Dr. K.A. Busia, who contested and won the presidential seat to become the President of the 2nd Republic of Ghana. This was between 1969 and 1972, before the Supreme Military Council (S.M.C.) took over the government. During the term of the 2nd Republic, my father was made the chairman of the Bulsa Traditional Council at Sandema. He was also a Cultural Activities Organiser in the District and worked temporally with the Arts Council of Ghana. Apart from all that is stated, Mr. Leander also worked voluntarily with Prof. Schott, Dr. Franz Kröger and others since 1968 and helped to publish many books written in German and English. On his own, he was the author of an unpublished Buli primer for schools and wrote the text for a puppet show about the activities of the slave raider Babatu. He was a law enforcing man, helpful and sympathetic to others, a good adviser and well-behaved person. The late Mr Leander was much interested in farming activities, rearing animals and keeping poultry for his household use and marketing if the need arose.