TRIBUTE TO CHIEF J.B.O OJO, OUR DEAR PRINCIPAL!
I remembered Chief J.B.O Ojo, an old boy of the prestigious Government College, Ibadan, Nigeria (GCI), and former principal of the same school recently, and I decided to do a short tribute to him.
Before I go on, please permit me to declare that this tribute is not intended to draw attention to myself in any way! It’s simply intended to honour Chief J.B.O Ojo, a perfect gentleman, foremost educationist, renowned sportsman, astute administrator, and an ardent lover of people, who I owe a debt of gratitude, for making it possible for me to attend GCI in the first place. It was him who alerted my Dad about the interview, which gave birth to my set when they met at a social function. Up until now, the letter inviting me for the said interview has not surfaced.
It may interest you that I was a motor mechanic apprentice at some point in my life, even though I had always wanted to be a Medical Practitioner. But, along the way, I derailed and abandoned my studies at GCI for a while in Class Two. The reason being that a senior boy called me a leper; a derogatory label in our culture, and an insult to me, a self-believing prince of Àkúré Land, Nigeria.
To my non-Nigerian readers, please note that unlike in the developed world, being a motor mechanic is not a great achievement in Nigeria. The profession is common among the poor members of our society, and among those who are not trainable, academically speaking. A lot of mechanics in our country, are viewed as failures and are usually hard up financially.
I was under the tutelage of Baba Yellow, an Adamasingba, Ibadan, based motor mechanic, without my father’s consent. He was overseas at that time, and my mother could not successfully persuade me to go back to school.
Baba Yellow was a good and easy-going man! He had a couple of wives, many children, a rented apartment, and a fairly used green Opel Record car. To me, he was a success story, and I wanted to be like him at all cost.
I wish to put it straight on record here that I actually lied to Baba Yellow that my father asked me to join his outfit because he could no longer afford to send me to school. But, he saw through my lies and rejected me immediately. He knew my father to be a keen lover of education, who would never allow any of his children to drop out of school.
However, while he was contemplating what he would do with me, I melted into his crowd and started taking instructions from his senior apprentices and running errands for them. And within a short time, I became famous in and around his garage. I believe Baba Yellow eventually allowed me to be, after seeing how committed and resolved I was to become a motor mechanic.
I settled down very quickly at Baba Yellow’s garage, and before long, I picked up some traits associated with many motor mechanic garages in Nigeria. That is dirtiness, playfulness, talkativeness, deceitfulness, waywardness, etc. Besides, I learnt how to sweet-talk girls to a little extent. I remember having a crush on a girl who sold bread and cooked beans (‘èwà elépo pupa’), nearby. She told me off eventually!
Above was my life, until my father returned home from his overseas trip unannounced one night, and saw me in my greasy, dirty, and smelly khaki mechanic uniform. Of course, he was very angry with me, and very early the following day, he bundled me back to GCI, amid loud protestation from me. That was how my dream of becoming a motor mechanic like Baba Yellow ended abruptly and completely.
As luck would have it, Chief J.B.O Ojo, accepted me back to GCI unconditionally and protected me. He was even kind enough not to announce my escapade to all and sundry, thus, saving me from unpleasant backlashes and everlasting cruel jokes.
Today, Chief J.B.O Ojo is no more with us on earth, but I am full of gratitude to him for giving me a rare second chance. His contribution to who I am today cannot be overemphasized. May his gentle and sweet soul continue to rest in perfect peace, in Jesus name. Amen.
Dr Adedayo Adegbulu (Dr Stoney),
Medical Practitioner, Author, Speaker.