GCI, OUR GCI!
Shortly after I finished my first year in the Higher School, I found myself unbearably idle and bored, so, I made up my mind to secure at least a vacation job to keep myself busy. Unfortunately, I got none, even though I applied for many. It was as if the employers of labor at that moment were uninterested in my class of applicants. After a while, I gave up and waited patiently to go back to school for another session later in the year.
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).
My father soon intervened and urged me to attend the interview, if only to show a measure of gratitude to my uncle, and I agreed, grudgingly. And for the first time since my uncle arrived at our house that day, he smiled, and his well-known contorted face relaxed a little bit. He was full of joy!
I later found out that he had gone everywhere in his workplace, boasting that I, his nephew, an HSC student of the famous Government College, Ibadan (GCI), Nigeria, would be given the job. To him, GCI boys are extraordinary people, who are primed to outshine others, in all things always. I tried to convince him that we are like other people out there, but he did not agree with me, so, I let him be.
To cut a long story short, I attended the interview as planned, only to discover that eleven other applicants, all grown men, also came for it. I was the youngest, smallest, and least qualified of all of us. The others were university and polytechnic undergraduates, and I noticed that a couple of them felt insulted that I, a mere higher schoolboy, was in their midst. It was as if I purposely came there to spoil their little private party, but I ignored them.
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 moderate stature 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 ‘since you are a GCI boy, I just believe you are better than the other applicants, their ages and qualifications notwistanding’. He was not even 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 because he is a GCI boy, and 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 a loaf of ‘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