Shout Out (5)

GCI, OUR GCI!

Shortly after I finished my School Certificate Examination, I suddenly found myself grossly underutilized, and unbearably bored. Of course, I tried to get myself a vacation job, but, it seemed the employers of labour around us were allergic to people in my position. Before long, I gave up, and I quietly looked forward to going back to school in September, after the release of our result.

One morning, as I was chatting with a friend in front of our house, Broda Dare, one of my uncles, emerged from nowhere. In general, I did not fancy him much, and that day, I struggled really hard not to snub him.

But, I noticed that Broda was unusually excited to see me; he was also in a hurry to talk to me. In the end, I said ‘OK Broda, ki ni’ (Okay brother, what is it? ‘Dayo, I am here to see you O’! He replied. ‘I see, what for’? I asked him, barely concealing my impatience. ‘I have arranged a Research Assistant vacation job interview for you in the History Department of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (U.I), he answered in adulterated Yoruba language. Broda Dare was then a gardener in the same University!

‘Broda, you see yourself? Why should you arrange a History job for me without my consent? For your information, I hate History, so please go away with your job ja re’! ‘Bo’mi, mo bi nu si mi, wa se’se un ni o, mo d’oju ti mi, dabo’ (my brother, don’t be angry with me, you have to do this job; please don’t disgrace me).

I later found out that Broda Dare had gone everywhere, boasting to everyone who cared to listen to him that I, his nephew, a brand new old boy of Government College Ibadan (GCI), an internationally renowned boys school in Nigeria, was coming to ‘grab’ the job. To him, GCI boys were extraordinary human beings, and he couldn’t see why I would not get it. After pleading with me for a while, I agreed to attend the interview, and his contorted face relaxed temporarily for a change. He was full of joy!

I went for the interview as planned, only to find out that eleven others, all men, came for it too. I was the youngest, and the most junior of the whole lot. I was also the only non-undergraduate among them, and it was obvious that some of the blokes felt insulted to see a small boy like me in their midst. It was as if I was there to spoil their little party. One of them even tried to intimidate me, but I stood my ground solidly.

After waiting for what looked like an eternity to me, a young stylish looking, pipe in mouth lecturer came out of an inner office, cleared his throat, and said, ‘who is the GCI man here’. I raised up my hands, and he looked at me from head to toe, obviously surprised to see me, a mere small boy. Honestly, I expected him to order me out of his presence, and I was prepared for him. After all, what would I be doing in a History Department, in the midst of ‘old men’, if not for Broda Dare, who wouldn’t take no for an answer? Guess what? He just smiled, and said, ‘Mister Adedayo Stoney Adegbulu, the job is yours, others should please go away’. I was stunned; others were too!

Later, when we were alone, I asked him why he chose me over and above the other guys who were much older, and better qualified than me. Again, he smiled and said ‘you are a GCI old boy, you were trained to excel in all things, at all times. Don’t worry, Dayo, you will be fine with me; I will support you’. He was not an old boy of GCI!

By the time I got to where Broda Dare was mowing a lawn, he had already heard that I got the job, and I met him dancing and bragging, saying “You see, I told you that my nephew would get the job. He is an ex-GCI, his own GCI is ‘ojulowo’ (original)’. Before long, Broda’s joy infected me, and I found myself dancing with him. I did not join him to brag though! He later bought me a bottle of Pepsi Cola, and ‘Senega’ bread (a spindle-shaped bread in vogue at that time), to thank me for not disappointing him.

That was the type of school we attended by the grace of God. The school that made people prefer us above others. The school that gave us the confidence and skills we need to do well in life beyond its confinement. The school of our pride built on the rocks. Like most famous institutions in Nigeria, GCI is no more what it used to be, due to the irresponsible disposition of our political leaders, but, it lives in us, and it will live in us forever.

I love my school! God bless ‘GCI, our GCI’ forever. Amen.

Dr Adedayo Adegbulu (Dr Stoney),

Medical Practioner, Author, and Speaker