Adisadel College, popularly known as “ADISCO”, is an Anglican boys’ boarding school in Cape Coast, Ghana. Key aspects of the school’s administration and curriculum were originally modelled on the English public school system during the colonial era. The present curriculum falls within the Senior High School system in Ghana, with overall oversight by the Ghana Education Service. The word “Adisco” is a portmanteau of “Adisadel” and “College”. The school is named after what used to be a small village on the outskirts of the Cape Coast township – Adisadel Village. In recent times, the village has expanded considerably and gradually merged imperceptibly with the main township. It is now a sprawling urban suburb with vibrant commercial activities. Adisco and Adisadel Village share direct boundaries, with the former occupying the hilly landscape and part of the adjoining low-lying area. It is commonly acceptable to use the name of the village (Adisadel) in reference to the school.
Adisadel College was ranked 10th out of the top 100 best high schools in Africa by Africa Almanac in 2014, based on quality of education, student engagement, strength and activities of alumni, school profile, internet and news visibility.
Adisadel was established in 1910 in a building at Topp Yard, near Christ Church School which is within the vicinity of Cape Coast Castle. It began with 29 boys, but by 1935, it had expanded to accommodate about 200 pupils. The school buildings were extended in 1950 by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew. Student enrolment stood at 545, at the time of the school’s Golden Jubilee in 1960. There were over 1500 boarding students and 93 teachers when the school celebrated its centenary anniversary in 2010.
The school’s original founder was the Rt. Rev. Nathaniel Temple Hamlyn, a missionary who was then Anglican Bishop of Accra between 1908 and 1910. Hamlyn’s ambition was to establish a grammar school to educate the sons of Anglicans in the colony, and also create an educational institution which will serve as a training ground for the clergy.
Adisadel College is the second-oldest secondary school in Ghana after Mfantsipim School, an arch rival which was established by the Methodist Church in 1876. Adisco is also one of the most famous institutions of learning in sub-Saharan Africa.
The college was the 2016 champion of the National Maths and Science Quiz after winning the competition for that year.
The school uniform is black and white striped shirt and black shorts, which directly reflects the primary colours of the college. The distinctive colour combination is colloquially referred to as “zebra”, due to its semblance to the stripes of that animal species. Unsurprisingly, the distinctive outfit has earned Adisco students the nickname of “zebra boys”. Prior to the introduction of this style of uniform in the 1990s, students of the old Form One to Form Five stream wore blue shirts and brown khaki shorts, whiles those in Sixth Form wore white shirts and brown shorts. Adisadel College was the first secondary school in the history of Ghana to design special cloaks for its prefects: red for the head prefect, blue for the other prefects, and green for the assistants. That tradition still persists till this day.
The school has ten “houses” or dormitories, mostly named after prominent personalities who have played significant roles in its history and development. The ten houses of the school are Hamlyn, Quaque, Elliott, Canterbury, Knight, Aglionby, Ebiradze, Jubilee, Thomas Jonah and Le Maire. Ebiradze House is aptly named in recognition of the Ebiradze Clan, original custodians of the land who made it available for the school to be built. Thomas Jonah House, which is the latest addition to the housing stock was built in 1997. Adisadel campus is split between two sites, with one part atop a hill and the other lying on the relative lowland which adjoins Adisadel Village. The two sites are linked by a long concrete staircase, popularly known as Katanga Stairs, made up of 83 steps. The stairs also double as an endurance training facility for the school’s athletes, due to the steepness of the incline.
The area of the school which is situated on a hill is referred to as Leopoldville, affectionately known to the students as “The Upper School”. Four of the ten houses are located here: Hamlyn, Elliott, Canterbury and Knight House. The “White House”, which serves as the official residence of the Head Prefect and the Chapel Prefect is also located there. “White House” was originally built by the Asante State to house heirs who were students of the school. Additionally, the dining hall, assembly hall (known as Canterbury Hall), the chapel, classroom blocks, the headmaster’s residence (Acropolis) and the administration buildings can be found atop the hill. The lower part of the school is affectionately called “Katanga” or “Lower School” within the student fraternity. The other remaining six dormitories, including staff accommodation, the main sports stadium, and two additional soccer fields, are located on the low-lying ground which is adjacent to Adisadel Village.
The headmaster’s residence, which is located on the highest point of the Adisadel Hill is affectionately known as the “Acropolis”. It is linked by a narrow corridor, known as “The Appian Way”, which runs parallel to the chapel. The Acropolis offers a stunning panoramic view of the Cape Coast township and Adisadel village, including the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding suburbs. Students are forbidden from loitering around this area of campus. The fringes of Mfantsipim School are also visible from this high point.
Headmasters of Adisadel College
Name From To
G. B. Brown BA 1910 1910
B. P. Haines MA 1910 1910
G. B. Brown BA 1910 1912
Hugh Hare MA(Oxon) 1913 1914
R. Fisher MA(Cantab) 1914 1918
W. Hutton Mensah 1918 1924
S. R. S. Nicholas MA DTh(Durham) 1924 1929
A. J. Knight MA LLB(Cantab) 1929 1937
R. D. Hudson MA(Oxon) 1938 1940
W. G. Harward MA(Oxon) 1947 1952
A. R. H. Dee MA(Sydney) 1954 1955
L. W. Fry MA BSc(Oxon) 1956 1958
T. J. Drury MA(Cantab) 1959 1963
R. T. Orleans-Pobee BA(Lond) MEd(Springfield) 1963 1974
E. A. Jonah BA(Legon) 1974 1982
R. K. Ayitey BA(Ed.) 1982 1991
J. F. K. Appiah-Cobbold BA PGCE 1991 1995
J. E. C. Kitson BA PGCE) 1995 2004
H. K. K. Graham BSc(Hons) PGCE 2005 2014
William Kusi Yeboah 2014 present
Adisadel College has long held an enviable reputation as a powerhouse in the annals of inter-colleges sports since the colonial era. The school encourages and makes provision for active student participation in a range of competitive sports and extra-curricular activities. Most students take advantage of the modest facilities and the healthy competitive environment to take up one or more of the variety of sporting activities on offer. Taking up sports is also a way to escape the label of “Waste Pipe”, an inglorious categorization of students with no involvement in sports. In the spirit of the popular Latin adage “A healthy mind in a healthy body”, the school also organises competitive intramural sports on a regular basis. Early morning jogging around the campus is routinely organized by each house to promote exercising and a healthy lifestyle. Cricket, basketball, hockey, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball, tennis, table tennis and athletics are some of the popular sports for which Adisadel College is renowned.
The school dominated the sporting scene in the 1970s, with famous players like Daniel Prempeh, Ebenezer Ofori Ahwireng, Afful and Marlon Bilson (Knight House), Angus Ola and Isaac Neizer (Canterbury House), Laryea (Quaque House), including a host of other notable alumni. Some of the most distinguished sporting achievements of that era were victories over teams from the Ghana Navy, University of Cape Coast, St. Johns School, among others. Despite this remarkable sporting heritage, sports development suffered a setback when the Drury Gymnasium was temporarily converted into a dining hall whiles the current one was undergoing refurbishment. Currently, the school has mobilised a team which has been quite successful in many of the friendly matches it has been invited to compete in.
As the only school in Ghana with three decent football fields, Adisadel College has developed the sport to a highly technical and competent level, producing several professional players in the process. More students participate in football than any other sport. In the early 1970s for example, Adisadel students like Sam Amporful (1973) played for Cape Coast Vipers, a premier team at the time. Additionally, Baffour Gyan, a striker of the national team, the Black Stars, is also a product of the school. En route to becoming the Zonal Champions, Adisadel beat Ghana National College on penalties to lift the trophy. Ibrahim Ayew, a past student and son of the legendary Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, was a member of the college soccer team between the years 2002 and 2004. Rahim, as he is popularly known, was part of the Ghana squad that won the silver medal at CAN 2010 in Angola, losing to Egypt in the final match. Moreover, Samuel Appiah, a contemporary of Ibrahim Ayew, is also an alumnus of the school. He currently plays for Houston Dynamo in the MLS (USA). Appiah was the school captain and sports prefect during his time at Adisadel College. From Adisadel, he played for the University of Ghana soccer team and subsequently received a scholarship to Boston University, where he played in all of the team’s fixtures for the season as captain.
Track and Field
Adisadel College’s continued dominance in track and field events can be traced to the late 1940s when sports gradually gained recognition as a powerful tool to encourage healthy inter-school rivalries. The school has long served as a supplier of refined sportsmen for the country. It continues to produce streams of naturally gifted and technically sound sprinters for the national team. Since H.O Nyarku of Adisadel represented Ghana (then Gold Coast) at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, the school has produced several national sprinters like George Enchill (Sakinah), Yaw Atuahene (USA), Kofi Osei (Sasta) and Perry Ofori-Baffoe (Nguji). In 1997, Perry won 5-track events (100m, 200m, 400m, 4×100 and 4×400), setting a new 100m record in the process. Subsequently, he represented Ghana at the National Junior Games in Edmonton, Canada.
Adisadel College has a long history of producing some of the nation’s gifted and talented musician’s in the realm of both contemporary and classical music. A strong fondness for music is embedded in the school culture and psyche. Dr Gillette is credited with acquiring the first set of musical instruments for the school. Adisco is the first school in Ghana to setup an orchestra. A variety of jazz and contemporary bands have sprung up since then. Generations of Adisco bands have toured various schools and institutions, and also played at various prestigious events to popular acclaim. Various Adisco bands have also played on national television. Ghana’s most renowned and celebrated folklorist, Dr. A. K. Amponsah (aka Agya Koo Nimo) is an alumnus. The school has also produced a string of talented rap and Hip-Life artistes in recent times, who have achieved considerable success and recognition on Ghana’s music scene.
There is a long-standing rivalry between Adisadel College and Mfantsipim School which predates the colonial era. Aside the quest for sports and academic supremacy, the rivalry between the two institutions is also partly fueled by the Anglican and Methodist traditions which gave birth to Adisco and Mfantsipim respectively. Each school tries to triumph over the other, as a way to induce a sense of great pride and recognition for the parent church. St. Augustine’s College is another notable institution in Cape Coast which often challenges the dominance of Adisco and Mfantsipim for the prestigious status of premier school in Cape Coast. This spirit of competition becomes more visible and animated during sporting events or academic competitions where the three institutions are usually found on opposing sides in a three-way rivalry. The healthy rivalry between Adisco and Mfantsipim has led to the establishment of the Mfantsipim-Adisadel Fun Day Games, an annual event which allows the winner to humorously taunt the losing side. At Mfanstipim’s 1976 centenary celebration, the head prefect of the school, after acknowledging all the high-profile guests, humorously declared: “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Adisadel Problem still exists”! In response to which the audience burst into laughter and tumultuous applause. Surprisingly, Adisadel College managed to beat Mfanstipim at the Inter-Colleges (Inter-Co) Track and Field competition which was held on the grounds of the latter in that year. One positive aspect of this rivalry is the spirit of mutual respect that characterizes competitions between the two institutions. This has in turn produced some of Ghana’s finest sons who continue to excel in all spheres of human endeavour.
Adisadel College is closely affiliated to Mfanstiman Girls’ Secondary School, although the institution also professes to have a long tradition of good relations with Holy Child School, Wesley Girls High School,Aburi Girls Senior High School,St. Roses Senior High School and St Monica’s Girls’ Secondary School.
Adisadel On The Hill: The History (1910–2010) – by John Samuel Pobee, Vicar General of the Anglican Diocese of Accra. This book was published and launched in March 2010 to coincide with the school’s centenary anniversary.
The Owl is a monthly newsletter for students and alumni of Adisadel College.
Reminiscences of Adisadel – A short historical sketch of ADISADEL COLLEGE published in 1980, by G. McLean Amissah.
A strong sense of solidarity and belongingness exists within the Adisco fraternity. Several active year-groups can be found in most towns and cities, both in Ghana and abroad. There are vibrant Santaclausian associations in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries across the globe. The various Adisadel old student associations often mobilise resources independently to support the school. Individual donations are also very common. A common practice is the situation whereby specific year groups adopt a particular piece of infrastructure, such as a building or sports facility, and continuously support it throughout its lifecycle. Others devote their efforts to regular provision of essential materials and equipment, such as books, laboratory equipment, IT equipment, medicines and pharmaceutical supplies, sports equipment, among others. Adisco year groups also take turns to sponsor annual speech and prize-giving days, a noble tradition which persists to this day. The executive committees of these associations usually organise balls, dinners, fun games, excursions, and other social events to encourage networking among its members, and also to raise funds in support of the school. It is estimated that over 90% of all school projects are financed by old students associations. Adisadel College continues to thrive and excel largely because of the generosity and benevolence of its alumni.
Brigadier Akwasi Afrifa, head of state of Ghana and leader of the military government in 1969
Judiciary-Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice Edward Kwame Wiredu, Chief Justice Philip Archer,Justice Charles Hayfron-Benjamin (Botswana)
Legislature- Jacob Hackenburg Griffiths-Randolph, Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Hughes
Sam E. Jonah KBE, Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital; previously President of AngloGold Ashanti
Ave Kludze, a Rocket Scientist, Senior NASA Engineer and first African to fly (command and control) a spacecraft in orbit including the ERBS and TRMM spacecrafts for NASA.
Captain James Hackman Tachie-Menson, First black African ship’s captain & first African south of the Sahara to man a ship across the Atlantic Ocean; musician and composer of choral compositions.
Nii Quaynor, Network Computer Systems
Thomas Mensah – scientist whose single-handed work was most important in making fibre optic technology commercial.
George Kingsley Acquah, was the twenty-third (23rd ) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana. Freddie Blay – lawyer,Former Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana and Chairman of the New Patriotic Party
Kennedy Agyapong – Member of Parliament
A.K Amponsah, popularly known as Koo Nimo – a Ghanaian folklorist and recording artist
Terry Bonchaka, Hip life artist
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