Origin of the name "Adisadel"

By Gilbert N. O.  Addy
Knight House, 1973

One advantage of having some of the school’s "oldies" around is the opportunity to settle a long-standing debate about the origin of the school’s name "Adisadel". This debate has spawned a number of probably apochryphal stories. The best known of these has it that the school, originally the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel ( SPG) and later St. Nicholas Grammar School, took its current name "Adisadel" from the hill on which it has been situated since 1936 and the little village adjacent to it.

"Adisadel", the story goes on, is a corruption or Anglicisation of "Alice a da" in Fanti or "Alice is asleep" . The story has it that there was an English nurse who lived in the village around the turn of the century and she often needed a nap in the hot afternoons. Very often when the local people came to see her with their ailments, they got the message of "Alice a da" in Fanti or "Alice is asleep" in English and of "Alice a da" became the affectionate name for the village and the hill beside it. "Alice a da" eventually became anglicised to "Adisadel", or so the story goes. This tradition has however now been itself put to sleep .

The true story is something like this as told by some old boys who took part in the construction of the current school buildings in the early 1930s while the school was still based at Topp Yard in Central Cape Coast. As an economy measure, much of the labour for the construction of the current school buildings above the hill was provided by the students in the afternoons after classes and at weekends. The rallying cry for the student "labourers" during this period was , in Fanti , " Adisifo , mun fa mu Adere", or in English, "Workers, take up your cutlasses" (my apologies for my imperfect writing of Fanti).

This eventually became shortened, corrupted and anglicised in a process that took the original rallying cry from "Adisifo , mun fa mu Adere" to "Adisifo Adere" and finally to "Adisadel". The then new buildings were opened in 1936 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang. The late Dr. A. A. Y. Kyerematen was the first Headprefect of the new "Adisadel" College on the hill in 1936. Mr. J. M. Awotwi, who was present at the 1998 year’s celebrations, was a teacher at the school way back then. I think this story is more credible than any other that I have heard. I’m however open to any others.   


Santaclausians and Adisco

Students of Adisadel College – both past and present – are known collectively as "Santaclausians". This is because up until 1936 when the school moved to its present campus on Adisadel Hill on the outskirts of the town of Cape Coast, it was known as St. Nicholas’ (Santa Claus) Grammar School and the students as Santaclausians. The name "Santaclausian" has stuck to this day. In fact the first line of the School Ode goes: "Up Santaclausians! Stand up to Honour ……" . Other  verses also accords praise and honour to St. Nicholas: "Nicholas, the Saintly Bishop our Patron; Prays that his sons may be good men and true..."

More information on St. Nicholas can be found at the St. Nicholas Centre website.

The School chapel is called St. Nicholas and it has a statue of St. Nicholas just above its main entrance. The statue is among others featured at the website of  the St. Nicholas Centre - Discovering the Truth about Santa Claus.

The school's motto is "Vel primus vel cum primis" which in Latin means "either the first or with the first." It enjoins Santaclausians to strive to be among the best, if not the very best, in whatever they do.

Adisadel College is currently one of the few secondary schools in Ghana still called a 'college'. Santaclausians actually pride themselves as being the only real college in the country. Adisco is the shortened name for Adisadel College.


Leopoldville and Katanga

By Gilbert  N. O. Addy
Knight House, 1973

The two wings of the school, on top of and below Adisadel Hill, came by these names – Leopoldville and Katanga – because the Houses below the hill were opened during the school’s golden Jubilee celebrations in 1960 when the then Congo crisis was commanding world attention. The students in the old Houses above the hill teasingly referred to the students in the then gleaming new Houses below the hill as "Katanga" with reference to the then secessionist southern Congolese Province of Katanga. The "Katanga" students responded in kind and called the old Houses on top of the hill "Leopoldville" and somehow the names got stuck.

Katanga and Leopoldville are separated by a long flight of steps which the Katanga boys have to climb and/or descend each day since the administration building, dinning hall, classrooms and other facilities are all on the hill. Climbing those stairs are tough but a good exercise for those with houses in the valley. There are 83 steps which also happens to be the post box number of the school...coincidence?



Webmaster's Note: We await the story behind the School Fountain called 'Awotwi Babies".  Contact us if you have any Adisco related stories.


Awotwe babies
School Fountain on the Hill also known as "Awotwi Babies"


The Hill
Adisco on the Hill


St. Nicholas Statue
St. Nicholas Statue above the entrance to the St. Nicholas Chapel overlooking the School Fountain


Katanga Steps
Katanga Steps


School Ode

Up Santaclausians!
Stand up to honour,
Those who have gilded the School with their fame >>>