We come from many different backgrounds. Our names are countless and varied, some well known, others not very well known – the “old” and “new” generation. While some of us go by our formal names, others are recognised much easier by our informal, nicknames or the generic names, fellow, line mate, rooom.
The common denominator is that we belong to that noble hall, The University Hall (Katanga). Our thoughts, words, and deeds have contributed, to a great extent, to shape the socio-political and other facets of life not only at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Kumasi but in Ghana as a whole.
The Hall was built to commemorate Kumasi College of Technology’s attainment of University status and named “University Hall”. It was dedicated by Mr. Kwaku Boateng, the Minister of Education, on January 19, 1963.
At that time of building the hall, very few students in Ghana pursued their education up to the University level. As a result, just a year later in 1964, the hall was converted into a hall for post-secondary level entry.
The plan was to convert it into a hall where exceptional students (who had excelled in the secondary level of education) would be groomed in preparation for embarking on under-graduate and post-graduate programs.
The belief was that grouping such talents for a couple of years and providing them with exclusive education would subtilize their innate qualities, which could in turn spur technological advancements in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
In September of 1967 however, this plan was abandoned and the hall reverted to its Full University status. The hall thus started with very bright students who exuded the confidence, creativity, energy and exuberance of youth.
The legend of The University Hall has a lot to do with its history and how it came to be known as KATANGA. Just before the hall was inaugurated, the Republic of Congo in Central Africa, with Patrice Lumumba as Prime minister, had been experiencing the early and unstable years of post-independence, reminiscence of many African countries.
This situation was exacerbated when the Katanga province re-ignited its long-held desire to secede from the rest of the Congo Republic. The Congolese central government strongly opposed this secession idea.
Not only was the Katanga province one of the most mineral rich and developed regions within Congo but the government felt that allowing any form of secession at the very tender age of the newly independent nation would spell its doom. The events that followed led to the Congolese civil war that eventually culminated in the overthrow of Patrice Lumumba in 1960.
In 1961, Lumumba was kidnapped, tortured and later assassinated in Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga. Other unfortunate events in Congo during that period included the assassination of the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Das Hammerskjold.
Many African countries including Ghana contributed troops to the UN peacekeeping force in the Congo, which later led to the end of the civil war. Katanga and Katangese became household names and were revered as the most important corner posts of the conflict.
Perhaps it was their palladian attitude, or the eristic effects of the plenipotentiary capacity of their extremely intelligent mass that, members of the University Hall in seeing a parallel to the events in the Congo decided to adopt the name Katanga, not as a prelude to secession, but as an indication of their uniqueness, compared to the rest of the then University.
The decision to adopt the Katanga name was because the Hall was rich in resources (especially human resources,) and was of course different.
Indeed the hall, up until Brunei (GUSS Hostel) was built, was geographically set away from all the other halls which are within easy reach of each other and thus, it did offer a community on its own. As well, any fight to defend student’s rights either on campus or nationwide, had also been planned, influenced or led from Katanga which then saw itself as the defender of the defenseless equating to the fearless valour of the Congolese people of Katanga.
With this drive came the Katangees’ desire to be original, unique and excel in everything as well as always maintain the essential cultural elements of the body politic. In line with this, the first Hall President was nicknamed Moise Tsombe, after the then leader of the Katanga province. The hall then adopted the motto “Rest Not” which is aptly depicted by a logo which shows a student sitting on a pile of books whilst reading one in his hands.