Patrique deGraft-Yankson

Social Inclusiveness, Gender Equity and Quality Education in a School Crest





Emmanuel Kwegyir Aggrey, Logo of Achimota School, 1924, Accra, Ghana. © public domain


The crest of the Achimota School in Accra (Ghana) stands out as one of the most appreciated and nationally acknowledged school crests in Ghana. This crest visually summarises the ideals of Dr. Emmanuel Kwegyir Aggrey (1875 – 1927), a famous African intellectual who lived in the Gold Coast (present day Ghana) and whose image and personality has over the years assumed a great iconic dimension in educational circles. The crest indeed emanated from his popular quote ‘Black keys of the piano give good sounds and the white keys give good sounds, but the combination of the two gives the best melody’; a quote that has been broadly cited by scholars in many fields as an excellent axiom for the development of gender equity and social inclusive society. In the wake of the world’s efforts towards the achievement of global citizenship and peaceful coexistence, this presentation discusses the import of this crest and argues for its relevance today more than it has ever been.

  • Patrique deGraft-Yankson
    Patrique deGraft-Yankson


    School crests, school logos or school emblems as they are variously referred to are a popular feature in the functions of all academic institutions in Ghana. They are normally designed to visually reflect the key ideologies and philosophies upon which educational institutions thrive. In determining a logo for academic institutions therefore, efforts are put in place to ensure that they serve an appreciable level of visual representativeness. By this, school logos in so many ways establish emotional connections with parents, students and other stakeholders, whose interpretations and perceptions determine their level of confidence and trust in the institutions.


    This logo, by its very visual appeal, informed by the familiarity of the key compositional element and simplicity, generates a point for discussion. Moreover, the popularity and the history of Achimota College always makes it an important destination for various studies pertaining to senior high school education in Ghana. In my current interest in the study of icons and symbols therefore, the Achimota School crest comes handy, worthy and accessible.


    The designer of the Achimota School crest is not really known as most of the literature on the school's history is silent on the subject. However, judging from the fact that the key concept behind the logo emanated from a popular quote from Dr Emmanuel Kwegyir Aggrey, the Old Achimota Association attributes both its origin and design to him (OAA, 1973). The creation of the Achimota School crest follows strictly the conventional crest design procedures which inform the design of several school crests in Ghana. It is composed of a classic narrow base shield, with the all-important motto of the school, ut omnes unum sint (Latin phrase meaning ‘that all may be one’), rendered in an arc form below the shield to provide a mantling and support of a sort to the design. In a rather minimalistic fashion, the key element of the design which also represents the main ideal of the school (the piano keyboard) has been rendered in amazing level of simplicity which makes it easy to perceive and reproduce by all graphic reproduction methods.


    By this design process, the Achimota school logo offers a depth of meaning without being too literal in its composing elements. It has a pleasing contrast between dark and light, and connection to the existing school structures. Most importantly, the logo has sustained the semiotics and narratology which students, parent and stakeholders have always responded to since the establishment of the school.


    It can be said that the logo of the Achimota college is more than a visual representation of the ideals of an educational institution. By mere consideration of the diversity in the caliber of people who masterminded its foundation, the school’s logo could indeed be described as the very foundation upon which the school was built. The logo seems to echo silently a belief that underscores the essence of peaceful coexistence of all manner of people, as exemplified in the collaboration of people of different colours from different parts of the world coming together to establish an institution of that caliber. It must be noted that the use of black and white keys of the piano to signify the harmony that comes along with peaceful co-existence of people of all races mean a lot more than anti-racial advocacy. It is obvious that Aggrey, drawing from his own experiences as a black young man who has been able to successfully attain the feats that could be equaled to what any white young man of his age could attain, was drawing the attention of the African youth to their own strength and capabilities. This is because Aggrey lived in a time when the “black man” looked up to the “white man” as an embodiment of all wisdom and custodian of all the goodies that mankind needed for their existence. The idea that he, as a black young man could attain a higher education just as the white man had not been very much considered. Aggrey making himself a case for the possibility of the black race mixing up perfectly with the white race to produce something good therefore seemed to be the underlining principle for the creation of the logo of the Achimota school.


    The question of Aggrey creating this logo not for some cooperate body or a church is also an interesting factor to consider in this presentation. As far back as 1924, Aggrey sought to established the efficacy of ‘education’ in the promulgation of ideals, principles and philosophies. This is deducible from the efforts he put in co-founding the Achimota College with Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg and Rev Alec Garden Fraser; opening up the college for both male and female; and ensuring that teachers were made up of blacks, whites, males, females. This indicates Dr Aggrey’s confidence in education as an important avenue for the promotion of peaceful co-existence and harmonious living.  He believed strongly that quality education would contribute to balance and a peaceful society, and promote his conviction that ‘black keys of the piano give good sounds and the white keys give good sounds, but the combination of the two gives the best melody’. What a beautiful reason for all mankind to live as one!


    Considering ongoing efforts towards the achievement of a coherent global community, as well as the premium laid on education as a single unit that can be used to achieve the sustainable development goals, it could be concluded that the relevance of the Achimota school logo is important today more than it has ever been.  It therefore makes a whole world of sense to argue that the logo of the Achimota school could be considered as a strong icon for well-balanced education and a perfect advocate for education for sustainable development (ESD).





    • Old Achimota Associstion (1973). Dr Aggrey. Retrieved August 3, 2020, from Retrieved 03 https://sites.google.com/site/oaa1973akoras/home/founders/dr-aggrey
    • Wada, K. (2010). Achimota School. Retrieved August 3, 2020, from https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/achimota-college-achimota-school-1924/



    published August 2020