Vandals, Ghana

Vandals, Ghana

The Vandals are a secret society amongst students at the University of Ghana at Legon, in Accra, Ghana. [CAFA newsletter no.7, 2004]

The society dates back to the colonial period and all members are male and from the oldest residence on the campus. There are twelve vandals selected each year and they are selected by the previous year's vandals with courage being the chief criterion for selection. The chief vandal chosen by election amongst the 12 and is given tremendous respect. He must refrain from sexual activities and all intoxicants for the year and his responsibilities include acting as a judge in student disputes and, critically, leading resistance against the state and the university authorities when this is required.

In recent years the vandals have led struggles against the privatization of dinning halls, copyright of teaching materials and so on. But their history of struggle goes back to the colonial era.

When the stature of Hermes on the campus is wrapped in red it is a sign that the chief vandal is ready to lead a struggle.

Party based student politics lacks credibility because this mode of politics is public and therefore open to repression and co-option and because its links to political parties mean that it usually gets bought off or co-opted from outside. However the vandals, being a secret society, cannot be co-opted.

References


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