Interview with John Olasupo Molomo (367, Swanston, 1942)

GI Museum Team & Pa John Olasupo Molomo (Swanston, 1942)

GCI Museum Team [Comprising the Team Leader, Segun Oguntoyinbo (Field, 1970), Project Consultant, Rotimi Ogunjobi (Carr, 1970) and the Curator, Opeyemi Okeleke (Swanston, 2000)] on Thursday, 15th of March, 2018 interviewed Pa John Olasupo Molomo (367, Swanston, 1942) – the twelfth GCI Principal and third Old Boy to return as Principal of Government College Ibadan; at his Erunmu residence. In the Interview, the nonagenarian revealed that GCI was a life saver; he recounted how his Set challenged and changed the status quo of the school in 1945; reminisced about the tradition and pranks of the good old days of the prestigious college; and reiterated his age-long confidence in the Old Boys Association.

Could you please share your first experience as a student at GCI?
Admission to Government College Ibadan then was a very competitive exercise because the school was for the children of the crème de la crème, and every parent would want his son to attend the college. The school’s numerical strength was small, and incomparable to what is obtainable today. It was solely controlled by the Western Government before its unfortunate infiltration few decades after its establishment.

I got admitted to GCI in January, 1942 from Seventh Day Adventist School, Oke – Bola, Ibadan. Most of my colleagues in Class I then were Ijeshas. I was among the very few that got a government scholarship at that time. Onifade [a cousin to T.A. Aguda (Swanston, 1939)], Ayo Ogbere from Ilesha, and Ukpoma were my friends on similar scholarship. They were very brilliant.
The admission era was during the World War II. Discipline in the College was at its peak. We were not allowed to wear shoes.

(Cut-in) Why? Was it because you didn’t have shoes?
It was because of the ongoing war. Only the Senior Boys and Prefects were exempted from this rule.

Did you feel that you were being punished for not wearing shoes?
No. Although, other schools were making jest of us. We protested against this act, and my Set was the first to change the status quo. We were eventually allowed to put on shoes in our Class V in 1945, alongside the seniors – Class VI students. But the shoes conformed to some specifications and set standard, it wasn’t just anyhow shoes.

Did you write any entrance examination?
Yes I did. That was what first brought the four of us together (Onifade, Ukpoma, Ayo Ogbere, and I).

Can you remember the first few friends that you made during your early days at GCI?
Yes I can. Onifade {a cousin to T.A. Aguda (Swanston, 1939)} was my intimate friend. He used to take the first position in all the subjects. He was extremely brilliant. Another brilliant chap was Ukpoma, he came from Sabon Gida in Daura. Ayo Ogbere from Ilesha was also a friend of mine. The four of us were on Western Government Scholarship. At the end of our first year, we had an accelerated promotion from Class I to Class III. We maintained the pace in the new class.

Other brilliant students received Scholarships from Local Governments.
Also, I remember Ayo Fasanmi aka O’she, he was bearing Williams then, he came from Offa. Tunji Otegbeye and Akinboro were also my pals then.
Our seniors then were J.B.O. Ojo (Swanston, 1940) from Akure, Ogunnaike (Swanston, 1940), Ogunjobi (Grier, 1939) and Ifaturoti (Swanston, 1941).

We quickly acculturated to the discipline and tradition of the school. At every time, we carried in our minds GCI in all our ways. We dared not indulge in disgraceful acts like emptying our urinary bladder on the road side, littering the ground, dressing shabbily etc. Such acts were regarded as bad manners, and vehemently prohibited. There were high expectations from GCI boys then.

In your first few days at GCI, what were your thoughts about coming into a new school environment?
I was freed. GCI was leading in academics and sports.
Apart from Igbobi College, Lagos and Kings’ College, Lagos that were in existence then, the emergence of GCI fitted perfectly into the aforementioned Nigerian Colleges. It was the ambition of every parent to raise their children in Government College Ibadan. Strict adherence to discipline became the normal conduct of all students. Complete compliance was given to the prefectorial system while due regards were paid to the prefects and senior boys.

Was there any student or teacher that had any influence on your career?
That would be Chief Akin Deko. He hailed from Idanre in Ondo State. He was in charge of Woodwork and Metal Workshop. He was the Housemaster of Grier House. He was a strict and chatty Teacher, and an absentminded man. He was also a Politician.

Did you participate in Sports during your studentship at GCI?
Football, Cricket and Swimming were among the major sporting activities then. I participated in Swimming and Football. I played the Left Right Back. I was also a sprinter, 100 yards race was my favourite. I represented Swanston House and the School at various Inter – House Athletics Sport Competitions and Inter School Sports Competitions respectively.

There was also Shuttle Cock Race then, whereby a Form I athlete would hand over the shuttle to another Form II student, and the Form II student would repeat same to another student in higher Form, till the final exchange. If the shuttle is dropped, the athlete loosed out. It’s synonymous to today’s Relay race.

How did your experience in GCI contribute to your choice of career? Did you have any favourite career in mind then?
We had no choice at that time. You went into teaching after your secondary education. I moved to Ibadan Grammar School to teach immediately after my schooling at GCI.

Did you have to attend any Teachers’ College before you started teaching?
We were given an all-round academic training at GCI, remember that GCI was at its conception, modeled to train boys that would later become trainers. We were well trained, so we needed no special training to teach.

Where did you go next after your stint at Ibadan Grammar School?
I went to University College Ibadan. I took its entrance examination in 1949. I was among the first set of students University College Ibadan admitted then. I also attended Oxford University, UK for my Post-Graduate Diploma in Education.

Was it not that the first intake of University College Ibadan was from Yaba Higher College?
Yaba College was a higher institution on its own but it wasn’t a degree awarding institution then. Their students would travel abroad to complete their degree courses and obtain their corresponding Degree certification. When University College Ibadan was established, those who desired to complete their Degrees at UCI crossed over, without having to travel abroad before their Degree certificates could be awarded. UCI at its inception, was short of staff, because many of the graduates at that time were recruited into the Nigeria Armed Force. The teachers posted to schools as Education Officers by the colonial government were also withdrawn and returned to the Armed Force. My teachers then were soldiers at Eleyele Barracks. That impacted a great moral and high ethical standards to learning then.

If you had a choice, would you have chosen another profession?
Teaching in my era was very interesting. You were opened to many opportunities the moment you finished schooling. During my schooling at GCI was the World War II, the Army took over GCI compound and the authorities transferred the students out of the school to various nearby places. GCI reset at the end of the WW II and normalcy returned to the college.

What was your most distressful experience as a GCI student?
I had left inguinal hernia. I was admitted to a clinic – African Hospital (now known as Jericho Hospital) after my Class III or may be Class IV. The African Hospital was solely meant for the Europeans and Senior African Officers, but I had access to it being a GCI student.

I could remember Dr Ademiluyi. Whenever there was an inspection, we used to be asked to stand in front of our locker. When it was my turn, it was Dr Ademiluyi, the leader of the medical team that inspected me, that was where the left inguinal hernia was first observed. I was ordered to be exempted from morning works and soccer.

If I didn’t attend GCI, I might have passed away in my adulthood stage because that ailment might not have been detected early, or perhaps wrong diagnosis would have been made. GCI was a life-saver.

What was your memorable experience as a student of GCI?
The prefectorial system. The prefects were very vigilant, diligent and respectable. You would be booked for any bad manners exhibited in the Conduct Book and you would account for what led you to such disgraceful act. Luckily for me, I wasn’t booked. Do you still have the book?

GCI Museum Team: Some Generations met it as a Detention Book, while some didn’t meet it all.

I could also go to church. I would trek from Apata to Seventh Day Adventist Church at Oke – Bola, Ibadan.

I remember vividly one particular Sunday evening that I was coming from Oke – Bola, a car suddenly stopped beside me around Odo – Ona area and the driver beckoned on me to come in. V.B.V. Powell – the Principal then, was the driver, fear gripped me immediately I sighted him and I had no other choice than to gently get on board. He took me to my House, Swanston House, and later sent for Osobase – my Classmate, and the Prefect-on-Duty whom he asked if I reported my lateness to him. Luckily for me, Osobase answered him that I reported to him. That was how I was graciously left off the hooks. If not, I would either be booked or suspended.

Another prank that we used to play then was ‘smoking of acid’ which meant drinking of garri in the middle of the night.

You returned to GCI as an Administrator (Principal). What was your first impression about GCI? Was it like you were at home again, or otherwise?
Prior to my posting to GCI as a Principal, I was an Inspector in the Civil Service, I served as a principal at GCI for 3 years (1976 - 1978), after which I left for the State Secretariat.

My time was marked with the unfavourable interference of politicians, whereby student’s population was inconsiderably overstretched, without a corresponding increase in teachers’ population and academic facilities. In fact, this time was when it ceased to be Western region and it became subdivided into Ogun, Ondo and Oyo States. GCI Teachers of Ogun and Ondo States’ origins were transferred to their respective states, creating a big vacuum in GCI. My predecessor, Mr Olafimihan left for his State – Ogun State.

The sudden transition from a small sized student-teacher population (30 students/arm, and 3 arms/class) to a large sized student-teacher population (over 100 students/arm, and 6 arms/class) created a major threat for the administration and learning conditions in the school. The unanticipated and astronomical increase in size even had negative effect on my health then.

Can you still remember anything about the School song? Like the composer of the lyrics, and tune; when it was composed?
The Young Girl who taught Yoruba Language between 1972 and 1975 at GCI recalled that there were circulations about the composition of the School song as far back as the end of 1975 when she left the school for The Polytechnic, Ibadan. She promised to find out from some of her colleagues like Mrs Orisasonpe, the then French Teacher, whom she left at GCI. She added that Mr G.O. Fasina, the Music Teacher then, tried to get the music of the song. Do you still have the Cadet Force?

GCI Museum: The Cadet Force is still in existence and very functional.

From the totality of your experience, what values did you acquire that has become part and parcel of you even till this day?
Work hard; pray hard; and keep straight. I acquired these norms from Swanston House.

The ancient Swan led everyone to render the Swanston House song.

Could you please sum up your GCI experience as a student?
We equally loved ourselves as students, and we loved our teachers too, and our teachers dearly loved us. Life at GCI was very interesting.
We were brought up at both the House level and School level to be hardworking, responsible and accountable; and to make sure we do not forget our Alma Mater.

GCI set a standard for us, each of the Houses had their own standards. We were trained to love one another, even outside the confines of GCI, which I hope still holds till date. The cordial relationship in the Old Boys Association is worthy of note, and commendable too. The Association is such a large and classic fraternity that non-members do envy.

Dr Ademiluyi of Ile – Ife stock, played a prominent role in my life then. I can’t forget him.

I couldn’t have attended a better school than Government College Ibadan.

Are the log cabins still in existence?
GCI Museum: Yes sir, but of the 3 log cabins, only one is still remaining but no longer functional.
A Log cabin is a house raised by log of woods. It used to be the Housemaster’s house. Mr T.M. Aluko and Mr Mustapha used to live in Log Cabins.

Could you please summarise your GCI Experience as a Principal? How you met the office; challenges found and how you dealt with them (if any)?
Despite the astronomical rise in the school’s student population, and limited educational and human resources which led to a weakened student-teacher relationship, appreciable and significant academic progress was still made, and the standards were maintained. Even though administration and coordination of the students were difficult, my divine gift of identification was put to use. I would always recognise students who had previously been caught for bad manners but hid under the teeming population, this decreased the rate of disobedience, for fear of being caught.

What memories of GCI did you have when you finally left GCI?
I continued my passion for GCI as an Old Boy in the Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association family. When my Western Government Scholarship ended, the Old Boys Association paid my remaining tuition fees. The passion of the Old Boys for the school knew no bounds.
In fact, all my boys attended Government College Ibadan while the girls attended Queens School Ibadan.

I’m glad the school still retains its prestige.

When was the last time you visited the school?
Shortly after my retirement from civil service. I used to visit it while traveling to Abeokuta.

Thank you very much for the audience you availed us.

Credits: The amiable Young Girl of Pa. Molomo, Mrs. Ruth Omowunmi Molomo, who helped to jog the memory of the nonagenarian, and also filled in some gaps.

March, 2018.

1. Segun Oguntoyinbo (Field, 1970) - GCI Museum Team Leader
2. Mrs R.O. Molomo - Young Girl of Pa Molomo, and former Yoruba Language.
3. Rotimi Ogunjobi (Carr, 1970) - GCI Museum Project Consultant
4. Opeyemi Okeleke (Swanston, 2000) - GCI Museum Curator

5. John Olasupo Molomo (Swanston, 1942) - Former GCI Principal.


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