Leah Wong at the KNUST Graduation Ceremony, photo taken by graduation photographers
Just like students graduating from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology I shook the hand of the Ashanti King.
A week after our tour of the school, I attended the first day of graduation, held in the school’s great hall. Unlike the week before when exams were in session, the grounds were filled with people. All around graduates, their friends and families were snapping photos.
When I reached the venue I was seated inside with the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kwasi Adarkwa’s wife in the front row, giving me a clear view of the day’s festivities. Following the procession of both convocation, the university’s Chancellor and the University Council, I realized that I was going to be seated in front of the Ashanti King for the entire ceremony.
The valedictorian, Kwadwo Boakye Boadu, received the highest marks for students from the two colleges, provided the usual inspirational speech to his fellow classmates. He encouraged his fellow students to continue to work hard as his lecturers engrained in him that “only in the dictionary [does] success come before work,” reminding them that “it doesn’t happen in the real world.”
The motivational speaker for the event was Frank Tackie, the President of the Ghana Institute of Planners. Tackie encouraged the graduates to take hold of opportunities, even if it means leaving the country. In his 35 years as a planner, he has traveled to work in over 20 countries globally.
The graduation ceremony was for both the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the College of Architecture and Planning. Each graduating student shook the hand of the chancellor of the university, the Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Following the graduation ceremony, Prof. Adarkwa and his wife took me to a reception at the Vice-Chancellor’s house. There I sat in the same room as King and enjoyed refreshments. The King did not eat the same food as I did though, as he travels with a cooler of his own food wherever he goes. We sat waiting for the King to depart, and though I did not have my camera, Prof. Adarkwa said he would introduce me to the King.
After a brief introduction about how I was the daughter of one of his Canadian classmates, and that I was working at Kapital Radio in Kumasi, I was able to say hello and shake hands with the King. Shaking hands with the King is a great honour by Ghanaian standards, something I truly realized when I told the story to my coworkers later that week.