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My “Wicked” School Headmaster!
When I entered Tema Secondary School, one man I was advised by seniors and colleagues to avoid was Paul Kojo Dzineku – the then Assistant Headmaster we nicknamed Dzineman. Students called him evil, wicked and even the Devil himself.
His crime? Because he wouldn’t allow students to sleep in the dormitory during morning assembly or class hours or prep time.
Because he wouldn’t allow students to dress in unprescribed school attire or have an unapproved hairstyle.
On campus, it was a Hide and Seek affair between this man and stubborn students in particular. Of course, I listened to my mates and avoided him too.
When he presided at morning assemblies, there was order and when he came to prep, there’s silence and when he enters the dining hall, seniors wouldn’t dare shuffle (cheat) the juniors.
A student knows better than going to his class late and even the School Prefect was careful not to cross him.
The movement of his blue Opel Vectra on campus was observed from peep holes in a solemn manner- You dared not show your long ugly face by the streets while he moved from Administration Block to his bungalow.
On vacation day, it was his job to mention the names of students who were either sacked or debordinized- and he did it with ease. Going to cry in front of his office would fall on deaf ears.
Outside the walls of Tema Secondary School stands the huge WAEC hall where Nov/Dec exams are conducted. He was the senior supervisor here and when he mounts the stage and shouts an instruction in that hoarse voice, every candidate shuts the hell up and behaves!
He was feared- and this made students hate him.
In form 2, I made a conscious effort to meet and befriend this dreaded man and when I succeeded, I realized it was more difficult being his “friend” than his enemy.
Now, I had to dress smartly always- a difficult job for a boy in the dormitory named Afghanistan. I had to produce excellent examination results. I had to be at the right place at all times. As a senior, I wasn’t allowed to shuffle juniors and the times I did, I had to make sure he didn’t catch me because that would be embarrassing for our “friendship”.
This is a man who failed his own son during an examination!
During this period, I managed to penetrate this man’s mind- a very difficult thing to do.
I found him to be very reasonable, disciplined, strict, caring and kind.
In fact, he gave me the best advice after Secondary School when I was clueless about the way forward. He told me to go to the Teacher Training College because he knew I couldn’t afford university. I never went to Training College (and I’m happy about it) but he is happy I moved on in life.
Till date, he calls my phone every two weeks to check on me and my family and calls me after my radio shows to give feedback.
He calls to ask me random questions on History and Islam just to be sure “I’m still sharp”.
This man, like many other teachers, has helped bring me this far and I know with his guidance, I’ll go further. He has become my father.
Mr. Paul K. Dzineku. Students thought you were wicked. But in fact and indeed, you were teaching us to live the tenets of “Nil Nisi Optima” (Only the Best).
I couldn’t have met a better teacher. Thank you sah!