In August 1999 Ena Yaa and Mwalimu Baruti began homeschooling their daughter because there was not an Afrikan centered high school in their area. Little did they know that this would be the beginning of Akoben Institute, but soon thereafter one after another request came for them to teach other children with their daughter. They soon realized the Afrikan centered school they had previously discussed as a nice idea, if they had the money to do so one day, had divinely fallen in their laps. Fortunately, as Morehouse College faculty at the time, they had income and flexible schedules, which allowed them to establish Akoben Institute, their Afrikan centered home school tutorial program. Being clear that Afrikan children and Afrikans generally were being warred upon, they chose the name Akoben, the Adinkra symbol of the war horn. This clarity led to their willingness to answer the war horn and fight for our children.
Thus, with the inception of Akoben, their private home became their school as well. Unfortunately, their speaking Afrikan truth publicly in an anti-Afrikan society has limited their access to becoming a non-profit organization that would be tax-exempt and eligible for government and/or other mainstream funding. Therefore, it is not surprising that they have been financially challenged over the years since they charge reasonable fees and many of their students’ families have dealt with their own financial challenges, which also have impacted the school’s budget. Nonetheless, they have been able to stay afloat with community support and income from Akoben House, their self-publishing company.
Without a doubt, they have been on a journey of on-the-job training with limited time to stop and plan, so they have relied on their experiences with college teaching, what they learned about Afrikan centered education from the schools their daughter attended prior to high school and their informal Afrikan studies. From the beginning, they knew they would have to provide their students with a good academic foundation and critical thinking skills, while emphasizing Afrikan traditions, history and cultural values.
However, they quickly realized they also needed to focus on character development and practical life skills (including organic gardening, woodworking, home repair/renovation, etc.). With time, they realized they had to daily stress the importance of building a sovereign Afrikan nation. Throughout the school’s story, Akoben has been willing to accept challenging children, whom other schools have refused to enroll. Whether the significant challenges were academic and/or behavioral, children who were able to show basic respect and cooperation were admitted. As could have been expected, it became Baba Baruti’s role to be a father figure who demanded discipline, especially for our youth whose fathers were not in their lives. Additionally, Mama and Baba have responded to requests to accept younger students (currently 4th-12th).
In 2005, they held their first Kebuka! Program to honor our Ancestors who endured the hellacaust of the “Middle Passage.” In 2007, after publishing several books and receiving requests from the community, Baba Baruti taught his first of many night classes for adults, which led to on-line classes to accommodate interested out-of-towners. Most of the classes focused on his book topics, but over time he taught classes on other Afrikan centered topics, and in more recent years he and Mama Yaa have co-taught classes on Afrikan male – female relationships and Afrikan centered education, while Mama Yaa has taught classes on Afrikan womanhood.
In June 2014, they held their first Complementarity Conference (the annual fundraiser), to assist warrior singles in learning about relationships, while helping warrior couples maintain their marriages. Fast forward to Fall 2018, and they are thrilled and humbled to be celebrating their 20th academic year.