Mfantsipim School

Mfantsipim is an all-boys boarding secondary school in Cape Coast, Ghana,[1] established by the Methodist Church in 1876 to foster intellectual, moral, and spiritual growth on the then Gold Coast. Its founding name was Wesleyan High School and the first headmaster was James Picot, a French scholar, who was only 18 years old on his appointment.

Mfantsipim School
P.O. Box 101

Kotokuraba, Cape Coast

Central Region


Coordinates5°07′08″N 1°15′04″W / 5.119°N 1.251°W / 5.119; -1.251Coordinates: 5°07′08″N 1°15′04″W / 5.119°N 1.251°W / 5.119; -1.251
TypePublic secondary/high school
MottoDwen Hwɛ Kan
Religious affiliation(s)Christian
Established3 April 1876; 143 years ago (1876-04-03)
Sister schoolWesley Girls High School
School districtCape Coast
HeadmasterManfred Barton-Oduro
ChaplainGeorge Affum
Staff147 teachers
Age14 to 18
Average class size55
LanguageEnglish, Fante
School colour(s)Crimson      and black     
SloganThe School
SongDwen Hwɛ Kan
RivalAdisadel College
AffiliationMethodist Church, Ghana
AlumniMfantsipim Old Boys Association(MOBA)
School anthemMHB 832 ("For All The Saints")

Mfantsipim is nicknamed "THE SCHOOL" by its old boys for the fact that several other schools in Ghana such as Prempeh College[2] were born out of it, as these schools were started with students from Mfantsipim.


The idea of establishing a collegiate school to raise educational standards in the Gold Coast was first mooted in 1865 but was not realized until 1876 when the Wesleyan High School was established in Cape Coast with donations from local businessmen and the support of the Methodist Missionary Society in London.

The school was established to train teachers and began with 17 pupils. It was originally planned to be sited in Accra because the British Government had, by 1870, decided to move the capital of the Gold Coast from Cape Coast to Accra. However, local agitation and the urgent need to put the idea into practice after eleven years of debate pressurised the government to allow the school to begin functioning, but on the understanding that it would later be moved to Accra, though no such move ever took place.

The founding name of Mfantsipim was Wesleyan High School and it was established on 3 April 1876. In 1905 a graduate of the school, [John Mensah Sarbah], founded a rival school named Mfantsipim; the name derives from "Mfantsefo-apem",[3] literally meaning "thousands of Fantes" but actually meaning "the gathering of hosts of scholars for change" originally by the Fantes. In July of the same year, the two schools were merged under the control of the Methodist Church, keeping the name Mfantsipim.[4] John Mensah- Sarbah, who came up with the name "Mfantsipim" stated at the opening of the school that its aim was "to train up God-fearing, respectable and intelligent lads."

I want to raise a generation of men from Mfantsipim School who will be bold enough to face the problems of their own continent practically and un-selfishly.

— Reverend W.T Balmer


The school was deemed to be a grammar school because Latin and Greek were taught there in the beginning, though it also offered other disciplines such as carpentry, art and crafts. It is an all-boys boarding school with seven dormitories or houses.

The Reverend W. T. Balmer arrived at Mfantsipim in 1907[6] on a mission to inspect the states of colleges and collegiates around West Africa at the time. On his arrival at Mfantsipim it seemed, for some reason, he had to stay. To his surprise he only met eight boys in the entire school, with neither a teacher nor a headmaster, the then headmaster having left for the United Kingdom. Balmer named them the "Faithful Eight". One of those boys was Kobina Sekyi, who went on to become a renowned lawyer, statesman, and writer. A monument has been erected in-between the Administration Block and the Assembly Hall to perpetuate their memory.

Reverend R. A. Lockhart arrived in 1925 and laid a solid foundation for the progress of the school. He built classrooms and dormitories on the Kwabotwe Hill and finally brought the school to the present site in 1931. He was also the main architect in bringing the Cambridge School Leaving Certificate Examination into the Gold Coast (now Ghana).

Lockhart was a robust, stronghearted and principled Irishman and was critical of Gordon Guggisberg's administration and ideas about secondary education in the Gold Coast. Guggisberg had proposed to reduce the school to a basic institution, but Lockhart convinced local people to enroll more of their wards.

In few years the people of this country will be amazed at the number of its influential citizens who owe allegiance to this school.

— Reverend R.A Lockhart


Lockhart's admnistration oversaw the construction of most of the buildings and structures in the school.[clarification needed] He encouraged some of the bright students of the school to become teachers, on their graduation. For example, he mentored F.L Bartels in this direction, and through this effort, Mfantsipim finally got its first ever black headmaster.[8]

It is said that the Reverend Lockhart was a firm believer in the spirit of the black man and his abilities thereof. Asked of Bartels in France in his later years which three headmasters besides himself, were Mfantsipim's greatest, he responded: " I will give you only two – Balmer and Lockhart; you add the third."

Dr. Francis Lodwic Bartels, the first black headmaster of the school and also the school's very own product, came into office in 1949. He went from acting headmaster from 1942 to 1945, to becoming main headmaster, and serving for another 11 years, ending his service in 1961.[9][clarification needed]

One notable thing about Dr. Bartels was the close relationship he kept with the boys, encouraging them to face the world, but only with discipline. Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary general, also an alumnus of the school, recalled: "I was one of a group of boys who sat on the floor of his office for our weekly lesson in spoken English."[10]

There have been many influential products of the school who have served, not only the country and the continent of Africa, but also continents outside Africa and many international bodies. Mfantsipim School has trained a large number of alumni in the field of medicine, science, engineering, education, architecture, and many other disciplines.

In 1931 the school moved to its present location on the Kwabotwe Hill in the northern part of Cape Coast on the Kotokuraba road. The school sometimes has been referred to as Kwabotwe or simply Botwe for the reason of it being on that hill.


1. Balmer-Acquaah: this is the first house seen from the school's main entrance. It was named after Rev. W. T. Balmer, headmaster from 1907 to 1910, and Robert Gaddiel Acquaah, the first black presiding bishop of the Methodist Church. It was the first house to be built.

2. Pickard-Parker: this is located right after Balmer-Acquaah, and is a long rectangular-square structure of two storeys.

3. Lockhart-Schweitzer: this is the third house seen from the entrance, and is on the left. It is not too big and shares similarities with Sarbah-Picot. L.S is noted for hosting the Berlin Wall, a section of the tall wall around the school that has lots of histories.[citation needed]

4. Sarbah-Picot: this has a similar architectural style to Lockhart-Schweitzer. It was named after John Mensah-Sarbah and James Picot, the first headmaster of the school. This is a twin house of Freeman-Aggrey.

5. Freeman-Aggrey: this also shares similarities with Balmer-Acquah, the underneath of both serving as a passage for vehicles entering the school. It was named after Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey and Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman, also a priest of the Methodist Church.

6. Bartels-Sneath: this is the sixth house on location from the gate.

7. Abruquah-Monney: this is the latest and biggest house in the school, completed around 2010. Unlike all the other houses, it separates itself completely — stretches near the Blighters' Gate.[clarification needed]


No. Year Headmaster Nationality Comment
1 1876–78 James Picot French
2 1878–79 Rev. J. Jenkins English
3 1879–80 T. N. Wingfield English
4 1880–82 Rev. M. W. Mountford English
5 1882-85 Rev. W. N. Cannell English
6 1887–88 Rev. W. N. Cannell English
7 1888 Rev. Dennis Kemp English
8 1888–89 W. F. Penny (F. Egyir Asaam) English
9 1889–90 Casely Hayford English
10 1890–93 W. F. Penny (F. Egyir Asaam) English
11 1893–94 J. L. Mayne English
12 1894–96 W. F. Penny (F. Egyir Asaam) English
13 1896–97 Rev. A. E. Somer English
14 1897–99 Rev. David Hinchcliff English
15 1889–99 Rev. Robert H. Gush English
16 1900–02 Rev. Edgar C. Barton English
17 1902 Rev. J. Hannah English
18 1902–03 Rev. George Parker English
19 1903–05 A. M. Wright English
20 1905–06 Rev. Thomas E. Ward English
21 1907 Rev. J. D. Russel English
22 1907–10 Rev. W. T. Balmer English
23 1911–19 Rev. A. A. Sneath English
24 1919–25 Rev. R. P. Dyer English
25 1925–36 Rev. R. A Lockhart Irish
26 1937–41, 1942 Rev. A. S. Fenby English
27 1941–42 Rev. W. A. Warren Irish
28 1942–45 Dr. F. L. Bartels Ghanaian Acting
29 1945–48 Rev. A. A. Sneath English
30 1949–61 Dr. F.L. Bartels Ghanaian
31 1961–63 Rev. W. G. M. Brandful Ghanaian
32 1963–70 J. W. Abruquah Ghanaian
33 1970–76 O. K. Monney Ghanaian
34 1976–78 H. V. Acquaye-Baddoo Ghanaian
35 1978–97 B. K. Dontwi Ghanaian
36 1997-08 C. K. Ashun Ghanaian
37 2008-14 Koame Mieza Edjah Ghanaian
38 2014-16 J. K. A. Simpson Ghanaian
39 2016- Manfred Barton-Oduro Ghanaian


Alumni of the school include Kofi Annan,[11] 2001 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Secretary-General of the United Nations; Kofi Abrefa Busia, former prime minister of Ghana; Joseph W. S. de Graft-Johnson, lawyer, academic, engineer and politician; Kobina Sekyi, renowned writer, playwright, and lawyer; J. E. Casely Hayford, journalist and politician; and Alex Quaison-Sackey, diplomat, first black president of the UN General Assembly; H.E.Kow Nkensen Arkaah, former vice president of the Republic of Ghana; Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, former vice president of the Republic of Ghana; Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former president of ECOWAS commission; Kobina Arku Korsah, first chief justice of Ghana.

Some other notable alumni

  • Nana Kobina Nketsia V — Paramount Chief (Omanhen) of Esikado
  • Razak Pimpong — Former Ghanaian footballer


External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Mfantsipim Senior Secondary School" Archived 28 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Ghana Schools.
  2. ^ "Mfantsipim School" Archived 28 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Ghana Nation, 13 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Meaning of 'Mfantsipim'". AfricaSchoolsOnline. 7 June 2017. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  4. ^ Richard Bagudu (2007). Judging Annan. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781425960933, pp. 22–23.
  5. ^ "I want to raise a generation of men from Mfantsipim..." ModernGhana. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Rev. W.T Balmer". Ghanaweb. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  7. ^ David Ghartey-Tagoe: A Broadcast Icon. Xlibris Corporation. 28 July 2010. p. 41. ISBN 9781453542071. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  8. ^ Adu-Boahene, A. (January 1996). Mfantsipim and the Making of Ghana: A Centenary History. Sankofa Educational Publishers. pp. 52–3. ISBN 9789988763114.
  9. ^ Adu-Boahene, A. (January 1996). Mfantsipim and the Making of Ghana: A Centenary History. Sankofa Educational Publishers. pp. 52–3. ISBN 9789988763114.
  10. ^ "Kofi Annan Recalls Memories of his High School Heamaster". ModernGhana. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  11. ^ Appiah, Edwin, "Kofi Annan led 'demo' over food at Mfantsipi", Joy Online, 10 August 2017.
  12. ^ Yankey, Stephen Duasua, "135 Years Of Mfantsipim Education" Archived 29 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine, GhanaWeb, 11 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Mfantsipim 2014 National Science & Maths Quiz". 9 July 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.

  Media related to Mfantsipim School at Wikimedia Commons