My Government College Ibadan Years 1
Apata Ganga is a remarkable contrast to Agugu in many ways. First, nothing like the notorious bush lands that surround Lagelu exist around Government College Ibadan (GCI). The one here is not a jungle as it is around Lagelu. Second, everything here has a semblance of orderliness. The many research institutes and their lush green vegetation, the well laid out roads and the factories quickly catapult me into another world that Ibadan represents.
I arrive Apata Ganga out of rebellion, a rebellion against a career path that would have seen me become a teacher. My father was a teacher and so is my mum. My half-brother is a teacher and my Uncle as well. I am totally convinced that the Bakare’s have paid their dues to teaching and I feel a need to fashion a different path, one that I have no clue on where to start. Accountancy it is going to be but how do I become one?
I haven’t bought a Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) form nor any other form for admission to a high institution, my case is akin to one who plans to win the lottery but has not bought a ticket. With my WAEC result of five credits and two passes safely in my hands, I start scrambling on where to go next. The National Certificate of Education (NCE) form for entrance into the Oyo State College of Education is obtained for me by my Uncle. Following the entrance examination and an interview, I am offered an admission to the College. Then a friend informs me of the G.C.E Advanced “A” Levels as a pathway. I obtain the form and receive an admission letter for a two (2) year Higher School Certificate (HSC) program to study Mathematics, Geography and Economics, the exact courses that I have selected. Why I chose Mathematics, instead of the easier Government is totally due to a lack of counsel from anyone. General Paper, being the fourth subject, is compulsory for all students.
So, here I am at GCI and have no clue as to how the two years will get me to where I want to be – an Accountant! From the very first day of classes, I am faced with the challenges of commuting. Oke-Labo is in the South of Ibadan as our lovely postcode of S4/285 reflects while Apata is in the East of the ancient city. Unlike Agugu that I could trek to by going through the numerous “Agbo-Ile” , there is no such option to get to Apata.
I wake up from bed as early as 5 am and am out of the door by 6. I trek to Oranyan where, at the junction of Kobomoje and Orita-Aperin road there are buses heading to Oke-Ado, Liberty Road. The bus takes us on the narrow back roads, snaking through ageless compounds with rusted corrugated iron roofs to Ijebu Bye-pass. I alight at the junction of Liberty Road and board another bus for the next leg of the journey to Apata Ganga. This is my routine morning trip.
Most times, I am with sleepy eyes through the journey but once we join Ring Road from Liberty, which is always around 7am, the drowsiness disappears and I sit straight up, looking out of the bus window to take in the many activities going on around the city as we drive by. Daylight brings with it increased vehicular movement but we will not get bogged down until much later, the roads here are very wide. I love this part of Ibadan that Ring Road represents, the industries and mega factories that I can see in the distance. There is Sumal, the candy making company with pleasing aroma pervading the early morning air. On our right, the T-Junctions that the many roads intersecting with Ring Road form get busier and the numerous Danfos are starting to become traffic nuisance as they stop to pick passengers without clearing fully to the bus-stops. Soon, we exit Ring Road and join Abeokuta Road which takes us through Odo-Ona (a significant part of Ibadan history) and the pristine environment of Moor Plantation and its many research institutes. As we drive past Our Ladies of Apostle on our left, the school is just opening its gates to welcoming her pupils. The narrow bridge over Odo-Ona is a traffic bottleneck. As we get closer to it, our otherwise unhindered journey is brought to a slow crawl with the traffic building up.
It is September and Ibadan has gotten through the raining season with no episode of Omiyale. The level of the brownish water in Odo-Ona is receeding as it flows gently, carrying with it all sorts of human wastes that have been dumped in it. Odo-Ona is to the Bashorun as the Rubicon was to Ceasar, except that Odo-Ona is not shallow. What is not obvious to many is the significance of this river in Ibadan history.
I am visualising how the warriors would have crossed this same river with their war captives and how some fierce battles had been fought in this vicinity. I can see the river bloody red in colour and not brownish as it is today. Some African-Americans would be better served as their ancestors journey to slavery might have started here. I often think of how a memorial will be befitting here for a solemn remembrance of the many lives that had been lost in olden times. This river was an important border post where many battles had been fought to defend the city from invaders.
On the other side of the bridge, we arrive at Moor Plantation, named after Sir Ralph Moor. It was established in 1899 as a model farm being the first Agricultural Institution in West Africa.and has retained its lush green setting since then. It now has not only the School of Agriculture but also the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training and the National Cereal Research Institute within its vicinity. The unspoiled nature of this area gives me an indescribable inner peace as we drive through. Now I am pondering whether the human beings in this area are of a different species from those of us in Oke-Labo, they surely have to be.
Soon we arrive at the gates of the Lafia Canning Factory and I am getting off the bus in a short while. Lafia is a busy factory, a manufacturing icon producing all sorts of canned drinks whose existence in the vicinity is announced by the pleasing aroma that hit our nostrils.
As I get off the bus, I straighten my bluish purple and white checkered shirt, ensuring that the shirt is well tucked-in the brown knickers. While I love the shirt, I detest the idea that after five (5) years of secondary school I am still wearing short knickers while students in other schools are wearing long trousers.
Crossing the Abeokuta road, I enter the school gate and begin the long walk on this private road towards the classroom area. It is not a lonely walk as many other students, who are not privileged to be brought to school in their parents cars, are on the same journey. The wood work laboratory is on our immediate left, just by the gate. After about 4 mins walk, we will pass in front of a two storey building, a colonial era architectural masterpiece on our right. I will later learn that it used to the Principal’s residence. A few mins more we will arrive at the lower school classes and the beautifully designed boarding houses forming a rectangle.
Finally, we get to the school auditorium on our right. School Assembly, inside this massive building, starts at 8:00am and we are grouped according to our classes. Mr. Fasina, the school principal, stands on the podium in a stance that depicts him as a man with enormous powers. We sing the national and school anthems. A few announcements follow with the national pledge and assembly is done. Up School, we chant as we are dismissed and troop out of this behemoth building like ants to our different classes.