Set In Gold: A 1965 Class Set 50th Anniversary Publication

The jubilee year in ancient times was a year of emancipation and restoration, a special anniversary of an event, kept every fifty years. It carried a connotation on the one hand of freedom, and on the other, a new beginning. January 2015 marked the fiftieth year that the 1965-71 set of Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association stepped on the threshold that would become the first day of the rest of their journey of life. Young, impressionable adolescents and with freshly brewed adrenaline flowing through our veins, the seventy-five boys that made up the January 1965 intake into GCI came from different corners of the country. Average age, twelve. Various adjectives could describe the bunch as we tried to settle into a new life - innocent, apprehensive or perhaps even naive - and most of us were leaving home for the first time to live the regimented existence of the boarding house. Being in boarding house was the norm. Even one of us, whose father was on the staff of the school and therefore lived in the school compound, was in boarding house.

It was the beginning of a journey, the course or direction of which no one knew for sure. We were too young to worry about that. But one thing we knew: we were in the school of our dreams. The interview process was intense but interesting. As candidates you were in residence for one week and put through a programme that simulates school life. Classes in the morning, siesta and games after lunch. In addition to Mathematics and English, you learned new subjects including French and German. A written exam was on Friday, followed by individual oral interviews with a panel of teachers. It was rigorous and thorough, and receiving an admission letter after that was like winning gold in the Olympics.

The original January 1965 number would change slightly over the next seven years, with some joining from other schools each succeeding year until the more significant change early 1970 after many had left for Pre-degree programs in various Universities while others joined from other schools for the two- year Higher School Certificate programme. The Class of 1965 followed the 1964 Set with 100% pass in the 1969 West African School Certificate Examinations with over 57% in Grade 1. As was the norm then, and contrary to what we see today, virtually all the 77 boys who sat the WASC in 1969 offered English, Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. One of us won the National John F Kennedy Essay Competition earlier in 1969. Many have gone on to be ‘movers and shakers’ in various fields of endeavour including Corporate Business, Academics, Medical Sciences, Law, Religion, Engineering, Publishing, Agriculture, Public Service, Private Enterprise, etc. The class boasts six Professors, one Federal High Court Judge, two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, and a recipient of the National Award of Member of the Order of the Niger.

This only attests to the goodness and favour of God over us, and the comprehensive nature of the GCI preparation.

Fast forward fifty years. “Korogisity” (hardening/aging of body functions) has set in. The look of “innocence” is gone, hairlines have receded several inches (some have only a few strands left while others have removed every evidence they ever had a full head of hair) as the initial sprinkling of grey gives way to the more distinguished silver-head presentation. The boy has birthed the man, skin tone reflecting the many harmattan seasons gone by; midriffs rounded and the six-pack physique that was the epitome of strength and vigour yielded to a more dignifying, if contemplative pace. Baldness, bifocals and bulges now characterise the once vibrant lads. Young Girls and offspring in tow, and a full career already packed in the bag, the Boyz, as we now call ourselves, still share reminiscences of the old times and our journeys since GCI. Our meetings may not be as often as we would like them to be, but we catch up on all missed assemblies whenever we do meet, and make up with jokes and updates online as we celebrate the attainment, and excitement, of grandpa status.

This compilation is to commemorate the fiftieth year since we entered the precincts and got inducted into the GCI family. The book features articles that capture experiences and reminiscences as recounted by individuals. We are living witnesses to the stories and it may even be that our children and grandchildren who read this will wonder who the players in the stories were, as they bear little semblance with who their dad and grandpa have become. Some of the boyz share hilarious stories of school days. We have also dug into the archives to share some of the writings of our classmates while in school, as published in The Rock, the School Magazine in those days. The stories tell the solid foundation that the GCI pedigree confers, and how we were prepared for a future and a country that was waiting to be realised. That future has progressively rolled in; we have lived the values inculcated in us and the testimony is evident. Indeed the Class of 1965 is set in gold. As it were, we came, we saw, and we ….

Our time in GCI saw some significant transitions. The civil war broke out in 1967 which resulted in some boyz having their education truncated for a few years.

Thankfully everyone returned still burning with the GCI fire in their belly. Queen's School Ede was moved to Ibadan in May 1967 and located right next to GCI with a road built between the schools that was no more than walking distance even if a long walk. This created a new 'rivalry' with St Anne's School, especially because Queen's School girls in Higher school classes walked across to GCI for lessons as part of sharing learning resources. I suspect the general neatness of the boys improved from that point!!
Then in 1968, there was a change of baton at the helm. Chief J B. Ojo replaced Mr. D J Bullock as Principal. Both are now of blessed memory, but they each left their marks on the sands of time. Sadly, in 1969, we lost one of our classmates whose young life was terminated by death.

As we look back now to GCI days, we were being prepared for a country that lost its way soon after we left school. A country that was not to be and is now, over forty years later, striving to recapture its essence, its lost glory, and get back on the path to realise its potential. That general malaise in the wider society manifests through the rapid decline in the solid of standards of GCI.

We mark our jubilee year with a modest contribution to the physical development of our alma mater. Two residential bungalows which Vitafoam Nigeria Pic kindly donated on behalf of the Class Set, and the refurbishment of the ceiling of the office of the President of GCIOBA. Many other Class Sets have made and are making similar contributions and more. We believe, however, that the attention of the wider Old Boys Association should now turn to taking a more robust participation in the administration of the school through a Foundation or Trust, and to restoring the academic standards to the level we once knew and were proud of. The standards that produced a Nobel Laureate, Nuclear Physicists, Medical geniuses, Boardroom gurus, Legal luminaries and front runners in academia. Kids who come to GCI must dream again - and dream big.

On the occasion of our fiftieth, we also remember our fallen colleagues who have passed on, and whose friendship we will cherish all of our days. We have dedicated space in this book to their memory. May their gentle souls rest in peace.

Finally, we must place on record our gratitude to Vitafoam Nigeria Plc for the tremendous support in donating two buildings on behalf of the Class of 1965.

In all, even though the wear and tear of time has taken its toll, we can truly say hitherto the Lord has helped us and we are grateful to the Almighty for His grace and mercy.

Segun Oshinyimika
Class Chairman>


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