I was a guest of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the gubernatorial candidate of Action Congress in Ekiti State at the re-union dinner of his alma mater (Christ’s School, Ado -Ekiti) recently and memories of my schooldays came flooding. The Dinner was well attended by old boys of Christ’s School most of who have reached the apogee of their careers in various fields of human endeavor. I was at the dinner with Yemi Adaramodu, head media of Kayode Fayemi campaign organisation who is also an alumnus of Christ’s School. Also at the dinner were, Mrs. Funmilayo Olayinka the running mate of Dr. Fayemi in the April 14 elections and her husband Engineer ‘Lanre Olayinka. During the dinner, Dr. Fayemi who was accompanied by his wife, Bisi was specially recognized and highly honored as a proud product of the School. Dr Fayemi, his wife, his deputy and her husband and, the school principal, who were members of the high table, opened the floor and they danced to beautiful renditions from a live band. It was a swell occasion with the shouts of ‘Up School’ which is the greeting format of the school renting the air. There is no doubt that the Old students of Christ’s School are very passionate about their school and they are one of the best organized alumni in the country. They made me green with envy because I attended other schools though I am also proud of my secondary schools even if they are not as popular as Christ’s School.
But the aspect I enjoyed and cherished most at the dinner was while members of the high table and others were dancing, I, Yemi Adaramodu and another old boy of the School and an aide of Dr. Fayemi, Gbenga Agbeyo started gisting about happenings during our school days.and I discovered that their experiences were similar to mine and to those of our peers in other schools at that time. I attended Awo Community High School, Awo- Ekiti and Ola- Oluwa Muslim Grammar School, Ado Ekiti between 1976 and 1981. The experiences ranged from senior/ junior relationship, boyfriend /girlfriend relationship, teacher/ student relationship, sports, social activities and character and idiosyncrasies of certain students. Agbeyo who was then known as ‘akatamata’ remembered and described vividly the character of certain students at that time especially the 1975- 1980/81 set. Christ’s School was very popular all over Nigeria and is still popular as an elite school but the general decay that had befallen the education sector of recent had taken its toll on the excellence that Christ’s School was known for. In fact this triggered off memories of our school days and by the time we left the dinner, we were all reeling with laughter on one hand and gripped by sober reflections on the falling standard of education generally on the other hand.
Agbeyo and Yemi started the discussion by remembering with nostalgia the academic exploits of Christ’s School products at that time. The school in the 70s and up till mid 80s recorded almost 100 percent distinction or Grade 1 as the case may be. The existence of H.S.C enhanced the academic prowess of the School. This also helped in sports. It was almost taken for granted that 90 percent of Christ’s School students would secure admission on merit to higher institutions compared to other schools that may not record more than 5 percent.
The gist moved to senior student/ junior student relationship and I discovered that it was the same experience with my schools, where bullying was the order of the day. For the slightest provocation, your seniors would descend on you mercilessly and God help you if your College father was not strong like being a school prefect. Having a ‘college mother’ then was a gateway to having a girlfriend because as a male student, your college mother would have a college daughter and so ‘a college son’ and ‘a college daughter’ almost always became one. My own college father who was about ten years older than me, fleece me of all my beverages on the pretext that he was using it to help me woo a girl. The nicknames of senior students at that time were interesting and scary. In my own schools, there were names like Sir Civility, Ayenco, Tregido, Janta, Openido, Dr.Opaculum, Takuraku, Ojee, Molecule, Atom, Walata, Weleke, Mansa Musa, Alooma,Oboje, Bruce Lee, David Chang, , Koleele ,Dagama, Ajelo ,Ayolo etc. I had many nick names myself. I was known as ‘Actor’ in my first secondary school, while I later changed my nickname to ‘Morrocco’ in my second secondary school. In Christ School, Dr. Fayemi was then known as ‘current affairs’ because he was versed in current issues. You have other nicknames as ‘easy wheezy’, jegenson, atuma rokeke,eddy, oyee, jaguu,Onbolus etc. Nicknames in those days were adopted after known movie stars, countries and names of objects in biology, geography, physics and the arts. But these days, our students prefer to adopt weird names like destroyer, capo, don, killer, mopol etc. An interesting character in Christ School was the one they called ‘atuma’ because of the way he walked. He was exactly like the modern day ‘Boy Alinco’ in the popular comedy, (Papa Ajasco) who always dance- walk. Atuma would not walk straight, no he must dance with students hailing him ‘atuma rokeke’.(atuma please dance walk). The equivalent of Atuma in Ola Oluwa grammar school was a student called ‘Nzorro’ a word he coined from the balm ointment, Zorro. He now added letter ‘N’ before Zorro. During games in the evenings, Nzorro, a six footer, who imposed himself as the school’s goalkeeper would make acrobatic walk to the field to the admiration of fellow students. Shouts of his compound names, Nzoro- Erico- Eregede- Garagirigoro- would rent the air. He would then ask the students ‘are beans ready, and is eba ready? ‘The most interesting part about Nzorro, is that with every word, he would freeze as if electrocuted and students would be thrown into a frenzy. But Nzorro never made a good goalkeeper because just like the clownish goalkeeper of Tanzania called ‘Pondamali’ about the same time, he was too unserious and playful to effectively man the post. It was so bad that he once conceded as many as 5 goals in a match. So Nzorro and Atuma were similar in Character and each school at that time has these characters and many more.
The gist took us to the exploits of Christ’s School in sports at that time. We discussed about how Christ school was so good in football, volleyball and field and track events. In one year in the 70s, Christ School won the principals cup under the then Western region beating Mayflower College Ikenne. Christ’s School squad then was as good as the National team of today. It was in that squad that were the likes of, Atta, Tonee, Aroo, Lagado, Pisco(striker), Micky Jaga(Goalkeeper), Zargon ,shobi, director ,olaye a.k.a deadrun, Oyeboboo(Tanwa) who captained the winning squad and now Principal Christ’s School (Juniour School) etc. After their set were, Rasheed, Pius Aludo, Koji (Olagunju), lawi(goalkeeper) etc. Other notable sportsmen in Christ’s School then were Sholay ,Obasco senior,aristo, batoto, piccolo, hmo, ukulele,riro- (Soji Omotunde now a Director in The Nation Newspapers). We recalled how Christ’s School used to trash other schools in Ekiti then in (football especially) with a margin like 10 goals to nothing. Only few schools like Acquinas Akure, Oyemekun Grammar School, Ondo Boys High School, and Victory College Ikare and in a particular year, Eyemote High School, Iyin Ekiti and Egbeoba High School, Ikole- Ekiti gave Christ’s School a good fight. We also lamented on how talents of footballers were wasted at that time. We were asking where were those skillful footballers of that time like, ‘Okuru’, Eweje (look at blood!), Efon (mosquito), Azeez, Otakoraye & Olambo of Ado Grammar school, korope of EBHS Igede, Sabale, Santana of VCI Ikare, Pele of EKPACO Ido Ekiti…etc. These were players who were as skillful as the Okochas and Kanus of this world.
The discussion moved to how students gave nicknames to teachers in those days. Teachers who suffered most from Christ’s School students were those who had great difficulty in speaking fluent Yoruba other than Ekiti dialect. There was a teacher they nick named ‘peripe’ which is Ekiti name for dry palm fronds. In my own school my Agric science teacher who taught most of our fathers in modern school then was nick named ‘Baba Agric’. A particular teacher in Christ’s School was fond of venting anger on students whose mothers refused to marry him when they were dating. One example was an incident where the teacher told a student, your mother was my girlfriend but she did not marry me I know she must be regretting now, so who is your father now? When the student answered that ‘my father is Justice XYZ, the teacher became furious and said and so what, am I a criminal? We laughed our heads off at the dinner which is a memorable one. This is calling on other alumni of other schools like my own to emulate the spirit of oneness and camaraderie of Christ’s School alumni. But we kept on asking, where are these characters now?
Jamiu is a media consultant and columnist