First Days in GCI 1967

Events Precedent

My relationship with GCI was simply fortuitous and started way back in 1965. Then, I was a Primary 5 student in Mayflower Junior School, Ikenne, Ogun State. I had gone to Ibadan and my late father, Pa. Ayinde Oluwole, and then the National Secretary of the NCNC took me on a visit to my cousin, Tayo Oyeleye (now Dr. Tayo Oyeleye) in GCI. I vividly remember that the visit was during the GCI athletics season which occurred in the l" Term in those days. We went, first, to the main field where my cousin was with other students. The most significant event that day was that I met Danny Kay (Alaba Daniel) one of the most loved, adored and respected sportsmen GCI has ever produced. He and my cousin, Banta Joe were in Form 3, and I remember following them both to Field House at the end of the day's proceedings.

Significantly, Danny Kay was doing the pole vault on that day and he was easily the cynosure of all eyes on the field. Needless to say he did so well and left a lasting impression on my young mind. It was during the course of our trekking back to the House grounds that the seed of my seeking admission to GCI was firmly and resolutely sown.

The school compound was really expansive in conformity with what I had seen and I had been used to as the size of a secondary school in Mayflower from where I was coming. The school occupied a huge space with boarding facilities, including those for the Primary School pupils.

However, quite unlike the Mayflower background which I considered boisterous, the GCI of 1965 from the eyes of a first-timer, was quite somber, reserved in ambience very clean and very disciplined, adorned with magnificently well manicured lawns, and hedges. I was instantly bitten by the bug and knew it was where I wanted to belong. With the active support and encouragement of my cousin, I went all-out for the Common Entrance Examination in 1966. Then I was in Primary 6, and the Senior Prefect of Mayflower Junior School. With such determination, serious and meaningful study, I confidently made GCI my first and second choice in the application form. Happily, I passed in flying colors and qualified for stage 2 of the admission process.

The Interview

It is quite important to note that in those very good old days only exceedingly brilliant students -- the best of the best -- were considered good enough to be admitted in the category A schools, The margin of error in selection ranged from tiny to zero. The interview process was novel to me. It did not really connote interviews not limited to a face to face discuss between a student and a select body of interviewers. Rather, it was a most rigorous exercise which covered a whole week. Interviewees were taught Mathematics, English and a foreign language, Danish, for 4 days. We sat for an examination on the fifth day. One Miss Nadja Newhardt taught us Danish and providentially on our admission, she taught us French.

On arrival in 1966, everything worked with clock-work precision and I was assigned to Room I in Odiase Block in Grier House. As pupils from diverse backgrounds arrived, we easily made friends with one another out of innocence. I was lucky to be in the same room with Oyegun (Oyepeck) and Walker.

I will never forget an incident that happened most probably on the second day of my arrival in GCI. On that fateful day, perhaps out of youthful exuberance I indulged myself and ate banana, groundnut, puffpuff etc after dinner My stomach revolted and I was very sick overnight and threw up (vomited) all over the bed and the floor by the bed. I got the shock of my life when I woke up the following morning; my room-mates had cleaned me up as well as the mess I made all around the bed. I was dazed at such thoughtfulness from people I met only the day before total strangers. It was amazing, needless to say that Oyepec and I struck off a unique friendship right from that day. Fate would again intervene to ensure that we were finally admitted. The 3 fellow whose name I cannot quite remember, sadly missed the cut off mark for entry. Wherever he is in the world, my fond thoughts and gratitude go to him.

First Night in GCI

Our first night in GCI witnessed a most dramatic event as aforementioned, our warm and welcome reception and quick settling down. We were instructed to assemble in the prep room of each House for our first assignment, a Dictation test. At the appointed time of 9.00pm in Grier House, we all dutifully assembled, starry-eyed. Like a bolt of lightning, a man suddenly jumped into the prep room through the window and immediately 'opened fire. The dictation had begun!!! Woe betide the dull-witted and unprepared. "He took no prisoners”. He waited for no one. It was everyone to his own. That 'spirit' was no other than one Mr. Adedeji who we later joined others to call, "Young Ade' on our admission into the school. He was one of our more vibrant teachers who taught us Mathematics. Incidentally, at one of his classes he identified one of us who had written nicknames in his exercise book. Please welcome the Asamba Roller;" 'Boy Jingo', 'Ekure' aka 'Akoms solo solo". (now Dr. Akomolafe). Our Mr. Adedeji reeled out the nicknames one after the other.

Back to our dictation test episode -- Young Ade' waited for no one and wasted no time he went right through his assignment for the night in about 45 minutes and just as he dramatically appeared, he simply vanished into thin air. We got our first baptism of fire in a most emotional fashion.

The following day, classes started in earnest. We had all been well tutored on the arrangements and procedures. We had the entire school to ourselves because the old students on vacation had not resumed save for the few seniors who had been 'conscripted' to assist the school authorities maintain order and show us the ropes.

As regards the lessons, all of us, I would say, were quite familiar with Mathematics and English, which were basic subjects, but Danish was another kettle of fish strange to initiates like us who did not have the basic knowledge of Europe and Europeans. We had difficulty in grasping and passing the subject. I hereby challenge my colleagues to travel back on memory lane and unlock the following jibberish' - "Hvard hedder Lise" -- No trophics for those who got it. God bless Ms. Newhardt. I thoroughly enjoyed my one-week holiday in GCI, the school of my dreams. When Saturday crept in so quickly, and it was time to depart and say our goodbyes to all our new-found friends, it was with very heavy hearts.

We had so thoroughly savoured the company of one another, we did not want or wish it to end. For the few lucky ones among us, we reconvened a few months after. For the majority, it was the end of the journey - never, ever to meet again. What a pity! But isn't that what life is all about...meeting and moving on?

Admission & Resumption

It is noteworthy that almost 80% or more of attendees at the interview had never been away from their homes before then. And so naturally they had difficulty settling down quickly However, I had a different experience. My previous travels at an early age had adequately prepared me for such separation. Prior to 1966, I had spent two (2) years at Alafia Institute, Mokola Ibadan, a school then owned by my late father's friends, the Adenirans, and later, Mayflower Junior School, Ikenne, owned by late Tai Solarin, another friend of my father (both were boarding schools); where I already had considerable exposure to boarding house living. So I, more than most, settled down quickly.
My admission letter arrived in late 1966 to begin tutelage in my choice institution from January 1967 in Form One. I was to spend the next 5 years growing in academics, sports and other extra-curricular activities which I thoroughly enjoyed. For those who have no GCI connections who will be privileged to read this book and indeed for most students of the younger generation, it is important to stress that GCI in our time was run along the British system of life, norms and values. We were deeply steeped in the tradition which we all still cherish today. For example, it is only in GCI, to the best of my knowledge that emphasis is not placed on titles. Respect for seniors is communicated or conveyed through the use of the word, 'please' after the mention of a senior's name. It was taboo to say "senior x" or "senior y" as in other schools. Our own custom did not diminish the reverence and respect reserved for our seniors. That tradition lives on to this day. It is therefore, not surprising that GCI as an institution was a government on its own. This means that the school was highly organized, democratized to a large extent with extant laws and regulations.
It terms of school discipline and general administration, the Principal worked with his teachers, the Head of School, known as Senior Prefect in other schools, who headed a cabinet of other prefects with specific portfolios like food, sports etc.

There were 4 houses, namely, Swanston, Grier, Field and Cart. Later, Powell House came on stream after we had left school. Each of these Houses was totally independent of the other and had its own system of government tailored after the school structure. In each house we therefore had a Head of House who also led a cabinet of House Prefects (In Grier House, these House Prefects were called Powellites'). They were responsible for the day-to-day administration and welfare of the students in the House. After the regular school hours, all activities were carried on in the Houses.

School/House Rules

There were school rules. GCI was a School deeply rooted in tradition but also run on a set of rules, which were strictly enforced. These school rules were enforced by the school prefects. House rules were strictly enforced by the House Prefects.

GCI thus instilled in its students the value of discipline right from the day they stepped into the compound until the day they left. This way of life stuck with most old boys till the end of their lives. GCI molded its students into near perfect human beings. The do's and don'ts of the school discipline, and propensity to always obey the law became a guaranty that a typical GCI boy would hardly ever run foul of the law anywhere in the world or in any field of endeavour in life.

This was the situation we first-formers were confronted with on that chilly, dry morning of January 15 1967, when the lucky and highly privileged seventy (70) small boys, greenhorns, reported for admission and entered the portals of the great Government College, Ibadan.

The question which then arises is this. How were a group of complete beginners supposed to seamlessly fit into this strange system and flow along without any major disruption of established practices and without constantly running foul of the rules and regulations which had been in existence since the founding of the school in 1929 - 5 decades before our time? The answer to this question is equally ingenious. To help all the small boys adjust quickly, each House fashioned a system of 'family,' akin to the United States mafia family of yore.

For good measure, it is to be noted that upon arrival in the school, each in-coming young student was assigned to a House. I was particularly lucky that I was assigned to Grier House, where I was quartered during the 5-day interview in 1966. I was thus a Grierson throughout my sojourn; while some of our classmates were deployed from their primary Houses to help administer the newly founded Powell House - Dual citizenship' -- Eh?

After the departure of our doting parents doting most of us, young lads naturally felt deserted or thrown in at the deep end of a pool. It seemed so unfair but the hard and cold fact was that it was the beginning of another life. Another learning stage -- the most critical in adolescence -- the stage where molding of the life of the human being, in particular, a young student begins. GCI made a good job ofit.

After our parents had left, there was a general assembly in the main prep-room where fresh boys were warmly received and made to feel at home. Life really started for us at that meeting in January 1967

The House authorities had a list of all the students assigned to the House. They promptly assigned each student to a senior student. I was assigned to Adegbesan who was a Fourth-Former. He was 'my teur' and I was 'his boy'. In literal terms, my teur means, "my teacher". It was his responsibility to teach me all the school rules, and all the House rules also as to avoid running foul of established regulations. It was also his duty to teach and impart to me the various unwritten laws and traditions of the school handed over from preceding generations. The teaching was only theoretical. At the end of our first two months, new students were obliged to take the House test. It was serious business and every tear strove to prepare their candidates for this crucial examination.

Though it was conducted strictly by each House, the examination was simultaneously taken in each House throughout the school. The test comprised the same questions but I recall that in 1967 a quiet, taciturn, shy small boy called, Akinbola from Swanston House came out tops.

Those of us in Grier House, were privileged to be addressed by our House Master, Mr. Arodudu, of most illustrious and blessed memory. We usually and fondly called him "Chico" or Aro Black". We also generally gave ourselves and our other teachers nick names -- how daring but ingenious.

Our very first day as bonafide students of Government College Ibadan ended with our Housemaster's address, nightfall and bedtime. We woke up the next day to a cold and chilly first morning. That year, harmattan was quite severe and I am sure most of us, coming as it were, from various areas especially from warmer weather did not find it funny at all. It was very difficult to get up at the sound of the bell. The routine had begun. Several days after, we were gradually initiated to the new life we had all signed for.

The day usually started with the road walk which we were not used to. We had to get up, make our beds and put on our sports outfit for the mandatory road walk. This entailed jogging around designated routes around the school compound. Everybody from all the Houses was involved. This served to get us ready for the day's proceedings. After road walk, we had our shower, dressed for classes and proceeded to the central dining hall for breakfast before going for classes.
Expectedly, all activities were strictly regimented and timed. We all had the School time-table and the House timetable. Every minute of the day was accounted for and where necessary, there were roll calls. One dared not absent oneself from any of the designated activities without a cogent reason. Each infraction of either the school or House rule had its attendant punishment which was strictly enforced by either the School or House authorities.

Within a few weeks of our arrival, official portions were allocated to each student. This, in GCI parlance, means a measure of real estate marked out for a student for cutting and general maintenance throughout the year.

It was the responsibility of each student to ensure that his portion was cut regularly to keep the growth of grass around the House premises under control. Ostensibly, this was to keep reptiles and other dangerous vermin at bay. Lawns were meticulously manicured and the hedges trimmed. It was a cardinal offence to cross lawns because the way the Houses were designed, pathways were created for easy movement. It was therefore absolutely unnecessary to cross lawns. Eating between meals i.e. eating of snacks was strictly prohibited. The learning atmosphere was terrific. Little wonder the school certificate results churned out every year in those days by GCI was phenomenal and remarkable.

GCI was patterned after the typical English Secondary School. All activities were deliberately designed to bring out the best in the students, prepare them for a life of service to their fatherland and produce the next generation of leaders for the country. Suffice to state, therefore, that the measure of success which we have all attained in our lives owes a lot to the superb training and preparation for after school which we had in Government College, Ibadan.
Up, Up, Up G.C.I

Design and Development by websesame.