I Developed Style In GCI


Kolawole Olatunbosun eventually became a favorite of his school mates, who nicknamed him, “Omo Eledan” because of his panache for orderliness in all that he did. This is what was popularly accepted as “style”, and today could be likened to “swagger”. He had the advantage of beginning to learn from a father, who was an old boy and even the Head of school and the Athletics Prefect in 1943, what GCI taught and made of its students. Nevertheless, as a typical GCI product his father refused to interfere in his son’s training while in school but merely followed up at home. “I didn’t even know that he was a Head of School until one of his mates mentioned it at an Old Boys Reunion. That is the stuff GCI old boys are made of”, reveals Omo Eledan.

“GCI boys have continued to be the best friends that I have and I discovered early that they are real in their behavior. They never pretend to be what they are not and always maintain a standard of behavior that you could be proud of. This was the standard I knew at home but in GCI I saw an arrangement that reinforced it and gave me a chance to choose a way of life early in life. I developed style, by that I know the way I want things to be done and I insist and stick to it”, concludes Omo Eledan, (also referred to as Olat by his mates).

It was easy for him to choose not only to attend GCI but also the House he would opt for. Despite his father’s preference for his own Grier House, the House where Olat had been quartered for the 5 days of interview, he preferred Carr House, which was where Olu Ogunjobi, a ward of his father, was accommodated. Olu had become a ‘big brother’ to him because he had become his father’s ward after his own father’s death; both fathers had related to each other more or less like brothers. He wanted the protection of Olu, who was then in Form 5, from bullies and so opted for Carr House. Olu was himself a son of an old boy and both fathers had also become friends from their days in GCI.

Olat had a great time as a junior boy in both Carr House and the rest of the school.

Notwithstanding, he recalls having a tough time with some seniors because he never wanted anyone to bully him and always wanted to have his way. His problems were usually with the very senior boys. He still recollects such old boys as late Agboola and Bello, a Football captain and Head of House, who insisted on ordering him around. But all in all, it was a jolly time of sports and education as he recollects with fondness his favorite senior boys, such as his school tior, Oseimekhan, popularly called Osei Tutu, who maintained the sacred tradition of preventing the oppression of a junior boy, which was one of the most serious offences in school. The tior system placed you in a school family that enabled you to be properly mentored to become a respectable GCI boy. You had to respect everyone, including your juniors. D.J. Bullock, a white man, had instituted a strict code of conduct, similar to the Robinson Crusoe English boy culture and this was sustained by his predecessor, Chief J.B.O. Ojo.

Olat became a great sportsman in GCI, when he represented the school in many competitions up to qualifying for Grier Zone B in Athletics, which was a feat in those days because the zone included a large area of the state, called Ibadan West. He won many medals for Carr House and the school in Pole Vault and Hurdles. And his exploits in Cricket made him to be regarded as a super star, because in Form 4, he became the youngest member of the Cricket Team of the Western State.

Nevertheless, he stopped playing cricket after GCI, when his interest in sports was replaced by his love for his profession. It was the only way to cope with the tediousness of Architecture. In the University; life became the GCI philosophy minus sports; as it was now a regimented life from the hostel to class and to the library and back to the hostel.

Despite not attempting to interfere with his life as a student, his father had inadvertently influenced him both in sports and education. He was an Engineer and a member of the Ikeja Cricket Club, who would take his family along with him to the club to play Cricket, a game that is not common to the populace. He had therefore learnt to play the game before he got to GCI and continued to have extra lessons and practices during the holidays. The only time he can remember that his father ever had to come to school on his behalf was when he was suspended for refusing to continue to play an active part in Athletics when he started his HSC course. He had decided to choose to continue with one of the two sports that he had excelled before his Higher School and so, had decided to jettison the more time consuming and tedious Athletics and opt for playing only the “gentleman’s game”, Cricket. That upset the Principal, J.B.O. Ojo, who placed him on suspension to pressurize him to change his mind.

On hearing that, however, Olat’s dad came to the school to defend his decision, which he supported as a wise decision of his son. And that decision paid him off, because Kola had known what profession he wanted to join early in life and so wanted to give enough time to his studies and preparation for life as an Architect. His father, who was a Civil Engineer had advised him to study Architecture. So, while still in school he paid attention to such subjects as Mathematics, Physics and Technical Drawing. Technical Drawing was not a popular subject with many of his mates because they did not particularly like the teacher that taught them this subject as well as wood work. The sound of the subject, woodwork, was also a deterrent to the young minds.

Nevertheless, Kola took extra interest in Technical Drawing and excelled in it because he had a foreknowledge of its importance to his future. He just had to forebear the teacher and face the subject. “Ase Pako” as Mr. Emordi was referred to by the students would not deter him. He recalls how the students would say “o yo”, when Mr. A.S.E. Emordi would materialize to the view of his classmates. One day, he overheard the students and when he came to the class he asked “who said a yo?” in his poor Yoruba accent. Of course, every mouth was firmly closed, with every one trying to put on his face his gentlest façade and you could hear if a pin dropped.

This foreknowledge of Architecture and the resultant extra effort that he put into Technical Drawing continued to pay him off even after he began to study in the University of Lagos.

He could recall that some of the students who came in to study the subject found it difficult to cope because they had no prior knowledge of what it entails to practice Architecture. When they couldn’t cope, they had to change their course of study. However, what he had learnt in GCI, including the early morning drills, the regularity of chores, the timing of all activities helped to mold him into the disciplined gentleman that his profession required.

Good sportsmen and disciplined boys were the first to be considered as Prefects in their senior years in GCI, which began when you became a Form 5 boy. However, when Olat was offered the position of House Secretary, which was a likely precursor to becoming a school prefect he turned it down. This was because he hated authority and the arrogance he had seen developed in the older students when they became prefects. He didn’t want to become a “different person”, in terms of character as this is what he had observed in prefects in the school.

Olat was not without escapades. He recollects how he bolted to watch the film “Woodstock”, but the man of style was not caught with the others who went after the opening day. His mates still recollect the day they were playing football on the hockey pitch when “Omo Eledan” fell down and dirtied his dress. To everyone’s consternation, he got up and the first thing he did was to dust off his clothes. That’s how fastidious he was. His GCI mates have remained his best friends because of their down-to-earth attitude, unlike his University mates who are competitors rather than friends. Their relationship in school (and up till now) has remained a friendly one rather than a competition. Even in the business world, Olat confesses that he has not found such friends. The training in GCI has produced a “tribe” of friends that lift each other up.

Olat has been to every biannual reunion of the class except the first one, which took place in Alabama the week he was to take the oath of office as the Chairman of a parastatal of the Lagos State Government. He is happy with his friends for taking this initiative that has continued to cement the union. He recollects that it was at the 2nd of these reunions that he could not recognize some of his mates that he had seen last when they departed in GCI either in 1972 or 74. Other results that have emerged from these reunions are the closeness it has afforded our different families, some of whom are in continuous contact on the internet.


Culled from Camaraderie - A 1968 Set Golden Anniversary Publication

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