A Beautiful Homecoming

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Some Old Boys of Christ’s School, the first secondary school in Ekitiland founded by the Anglican Church in 1933, recently went back to Ekiti to relieve old memories. The tale is one of surprise and thanksgiving, writes Peter Uzoho

For four days between June and July, Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State, dinner beautiful, brand new attires. Its streets came alive and jumped for joy, as old boys of Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, Class of ’87, returned in their numbers to the institution to celebrate their 30th graduation anniversary.

Indeed, for old students of Christ’s School, it has become an undying tradition to return to their alma mater every year, to reunite with fellow alumni and give something back to the institution that made them.

However, the events of Thursday, June 29 and Sunday, July 2 would linger long in the minds of members of the set, even as scores of members of the general alumni, staff and current students of Christ’s School and residents of the Ekiti State capital would also not forget those days in a hurry.

Besides affording the men, many of whom had not seen one another in 30 years, the rare chance to meet, mingle and network, it was an opportunity to socialise in a convivial environment and learn useful lessons from their old principal as well as some of the teachers that taught them while they studied at the school between 1982 and 1987.

The Class of ’87 members were also able to give a token back to the institution. They reconstructed the long forsaken Principal’s Residence, a dilapidated old house that had become totally derelict after its abandonment by successive school administrations for over two decades.

The programme commenced on Thursday, June 29 with the registration of members of the Class of ’87. Shortly after, a delegation of the association, led by its president, Morakinyo Bayode, an architect plying his trade in the United Kingdom, paid a courtesy call on the principal of the school, Mr. Christopher Abe. Other members of the team were Vice President and Coordinator, Home Branch, Otunba Adedapo Akinwunmi, General Secretary, Olukorede Oni and Ex- officio member, Northern Nigeria, Prince Yomi Subulade.

Shortly after, members of the set boarded the air-conditioned school bus and were driven to the homes of three of their old teachers in the Ekiti State capital. Those visited include Mrs. Melodi, whose son, Professor Goke Melodi, a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), is also a member of the set; Mr. Aina, a former vice principal of the school, and Mr. Egunlae. Gifts were presented to the teachers who could not hide their joy at seeing how their former teenage students in the 1980s had now turned out.

In the evening, members of the set from far and near were hosted to an evening of goat meat (asun), fish and chicken barbecue, drinks and songs by the Home Branch. Music was provided by a prominent juju artiste, Akinlabi Olabode, popularly known as Zico, who is also a member of the set. The event was organised, it was gathered, by Otunba Dapo Akinwunmi, Toyin Omotosho and Prince Yomi Subulade on behalf of the home branch.

The following day was kicked off with a novelty football match between members of the Class of ’87 and selected teachers and students of the school. The match ended 5-3 in favour of the old boys. That was followed by a public lecture delivered by Professor Adamolekun, entitled ‘In defence of elite educational institutions.’ The lecturer, an old student of Christ’s School, is an emeritus Professor of Public Administration of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Described as one of the leading scholars on political and administrative management in Africa, Professor Adamolekun, in his lecture, gave succinct reasons why the establishment of elite educational institutions, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels, would boost education in Nigeria. He praised the decision of the Anglican Church, Ekiti Diocese, and the Christ’s School Alumni Association for their decision to retrieve the school from the state government and run it as an elite private boarding school, in order to return the school to its old glory.

In attendance at the event were a number of dignitaries, including 90-year-old Chief Daramola, an old boy and chairman of the programme, Chief Olusola Bayode, an old boy, a former principal of the school and special guest of honour, Mr. Oladele Ayodele, National Secretary, Christ’s School Alumni, principal of the school, Mr. Christopher Abe, principal of the sister school, Christ Girl’s School, Ado-Ekiti, Mrs. Christianah Onipede (who taught the Class of ’87 members economics in the 1980s) and others.

Former governor of Ekiti State and Minister of Mines and Steel Development (Solid Minerals), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, an old boy of Christ’s School, also breezed in to the venue. He congratulated members of the set for spending millions of naira to reconstruct the Christ’s School Principal’s Residence.

The compere of the event was the General Secretary, Olukorede Oni, a Kaduna-based pharmacist. Publicity secretary of the set, Mr. Tope Adeboboye, an editor with The Sun Publishing Limited, presented copies of his latest collection of poetry, entitledSongs of my Rebirth, to the school through the principal.

Four students – two from Christ’s School and two from the sister Christ Girls’ School – were presented prizes for academic excellence during the lecture.

In the evening of that day, the old students converged on the residence of their former principal, Chief Olusola Bayode where they were hosted by the Ikere-Ekiti-born septuagenarian administrator and scholar. It was a nostalgic evening, as the old students and their principal recalled old events while enjoying assorted drinks and pounded yam. Odunayo Adebiyi, a businessman and master comedian, was master of ceremonies. Gifts were later presented to Chief Bayode and his wife by the set, while an exclusive photo-frame of the former principal was presented by the Vice-President 4 and Coordinator, North America, Mr. Akin Tayo Babayemi on behalf of the North American branch.

The following morning, Saturday, July 1, members of the set had their annual general meeting at the school premises. A few hours later, the ultra-modern Principal’s Residence reconstructed by the set was commissioned and handed over to the school. Chairman of the project committee of Class of ’87, vice-president 2 and coordinator of the home branch, Otunba Adedapo Akinwunmi, led dignitaries inside the building, accompanied by other members of the set.

In his speech, president of the association, Morakinyo Bayode, explained that the set members decided to reconstruct the principal’s residence after learning that the house had become dilapidated, and that past principals had stopped living on the school premises. Such practice, he noted, was capable of setting the school back, as discipline and character among the students would be diminished since there would be no principal monitoring their activities in the evenings and at night. He described the residence as, apart from being home to the principal, a court room, a pastoral centre and a tutorial centre, among others.

In the evening, members of the set converged on the Banquet Hall of the luxuriant De-Xambra Hotels, Ado-Ekiti for their anniversary dinner. There was much to eat and drink, even as Ziko, the juju star, dished out sonorous tunes. Chief Olusola Bayode, the set’s former principal at Christ’s School, and Folarin Oguntoyinbo, a Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Lagos, were given awards by High Chief Olatunji Obayemi, a member of the set and one of the most senior traditional chiefs in Ado-Ekiti. Oguntoyinbo was honoured for being the first professor produced by the set.

In his speech, Chief Bayode, who said he had become a honorary member of the Class of ’87, tasked the old students to continue to showcase the Christ’s School tradition of integrity, courage, humility and an undying passion for the school. He specifically lauded Messrs Tayo Babayemi and Dayo Obasa for bringing their immediate family members to Ado-Ekiti for the reunion.

The event was concluded on Sunday with a thanksgiving service at the Chapel of Living Hope, Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti.
A number of the old students flew in from Europe and North America for the reunion. They include Morakinyo Bayode (UK), Joseph Adeleye (UK), Abiodun Ajayi, (UK), Ayo Owolabi (UK), Tayo Babayemi (USA), Olumide Olaborede (USA), Abimbola Benson (USA) and Rotimi Ilori (Canada.)