Monday, November 01, 2010

All Saints' Day March

As per last week, I arrived early this morning to the administration building to find out that I didn't have to be there at 6:30 in the morning. I missed the memo last week about the morning session being canceled, and this week I was in the dark about knowing it was All Saints' Day. Guess who wasn't Catholic when growing up. I am at a Catholic college so they have the day off to celebrate saints known and unknown (which ones the unknown are is curious to me).

But as I said, I got to the church about half an hour early which gave me some time to learn about all of this from those who showed up early. I saw the Principle too and he didn't seem to be mad or show any sign of being upset at the Halloween party on Saturday - that was a good thing. As we talked the fact was transmitted that with the day off came a good old helping of extra church to celebrate the occasion. That means I had the obligation of spending two hours in church at 7AM on Monday morning. Those who know me can pretty much tell that this is not the way you start a Monday off for me. Add to this that I must attend church on Sunday as well since it is the first of Sunday of the month and, well, four hours of time out the door for me.

But the service moved along and while it was listed as a celebration it seemed much more like a familiar mass to me. Good songs though by the choir but I can not for the life of me make out what is being sung since I don't have the lyrics. I just listen.

After the service concluded we teachers made our way to the administration block for the requisite Monday staff meeting. It was announced that the students would be marching to town today with their free time to make a political statement. The campus, which might occupy 50 acres of land in the town, has several buildings being built which encroach on the property. Often people will sell individuals parcels of land that is, by our school's purview, not theirs to sell. This means someone buys land that wasn't the property of the seller and they start to build on the plot before the school can stop them. What is more tricky is that one of the buildings is a Catholic church. Nothing like posting an eviction notice on the front door of a church that just happens to be the same faith as the owner of the property.

For some reason it has been difficult to prove ownership between all the parties involved so this demonstration is to sway public opinion to the side of the school. This wasn't an effort by the administration to conduct the march but rather a decision of the student body to show their pride in their school and ask the authorities to side with the position of the school. I must admit, Ghanaians know how to demonstrate. Get a big banner, find those students who can assemble a brass band, and gather about 400-plus bodies to go for a little stroll.

I figured it was appropriate it to call it the All Saints' Day March. I was happy  that the students could express themselves and glad that they had pride in the college to the extent that they would get this march moving. Plus, a day off for me! That is something to celebrate.

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