My Years At Government College Ibadan


Boye Sofoluwe, who is Sofiguy or simply Sofi, to his mates from GCI was in the Nigerian Air Force for 23 years before he was suddenly retired at the rank of a Squadron Leader during the junta of Abacha.

Though the excuse given was that he had failed a promotion examination three times, this was strange to this brilliant product of one of Nigeria’s premier institutions, Government College, Ibadan (GCI).

Sofiguy, an accomplished sportsman in GCI, had left after his 0 levels for another of Nigeria’s exemplary schools, Comprehensive High School (COMPRO), just for the fun of having a change of environment.

“COMPRO had a mixed school that had females different from the boys only school that GCI was. I also desired the freedom experienced by the students which was more than in GCI”, admitted Sofi. He recalls that despite the existence of a cadet unit in GCI he had not joined it, neither was he ever inspired to join the Armed Forces while in school. “It was when I went for a passing out parade, on the invitation of my brother, who was then in the Army, Brigadier General Soyemi Sofoluwe (Retired) that I decided to fill the form to join the Air Force”, Sofi reveals.

Sofi recalls how he started primary school in St. Paul’s Demonstration School, Abeokuta, where his parents lived. However, after the demise of his father, he moved with his mother to Lagos and joined St. Jude’s Primary School, Ebute-Meta, in Lagos. His father was the Principal at the St. Paul’s Teacher Training College in Abeokuta, and so it was the most natural thing to join another Anglican institution.

Sofi loved his freedom and so GCI, the favorite school outside of Lagos was his first choice at the Common Entrance. He enjoyed the 5-day interview, which appealed to him because he regarded it as a holiday away from home. His only regret was the cold water and the fact that they had to fetch it from a tank.

By the time he entered GCI he learned to quickly cope with the new environment and all its rules and regulations. He was a tall boy and did not experience any oppression from the senior boys. Instead he began to look up to some of them as role models. He was very fond of such seniors as Sola Odunsi, Bayo Ayodele (Bayo Shines) and Daniel (Danny K), who were exemplary sportsmen.

He still recalls how a senior boy gave him guinea pigs to take home with him during the holidays. He is also fond of remembering how he enjoyed the college in the company of his mates, such as Analos (Winston Olulana), who he still remembers his “rough playing” ‘bose ma ngba rough’, (the illegal art of taking the ration of another in the dining hall).

All these pranks still make him smile when he remembers the GCI days. “How about the junior boy that was caught, when I was chief mess boy in Form 3, when he dished a portion of rice and ‘efo riro’ that looked small but he had put many pieces of fish under it. When the seniors were to choose their plates, one of them went for what looked like a small portion to the consternation of the mess boy. He tried to persuade him to go for a bigger plate but the senior, who was probably experienced in such escapades insisted on holding on to his choice. He immediately inspected the plate and exposed the escapade of the mess boy, who received his just punishment. Such things make you reminisce of GCI days with a lot of pleasure”, confesses Sofiguy.

Sofi was a distinguished sportsman in GCI. Both as a junior and a senior, he got laurels for house and school in Athletics, Football and Basketball. In Athletics, he excelled in 110 Hurdles, High Jump and Triple Jump. The most spectacular of his achievement, however, was in Cricket. He recalls how his mates, such as Analos and Tori, would claim that he couldn’t represent the house or school in Cricket and that even his bed sheet, mattress and iron would be chosen to represent the house before him”, divulges Sofi. It was this same game that he eventually played for his new school, Compro, the Western Region and the nation.

What brought him into the game of Cricket was the invitation of an international Cricket coach, late Roy Fredericks, a Jamaican, who had played extensively for the West Indies, to Nigeria. One of the schools that he visited was COMPRO. He invited budding Cricketers to train with him. By then Sofi had had a little stint in Cricket, beginning with an inter-house competition in Form 5, when he kept the wicket for Field House. He had surprised everyone when, as the last batsman he had extended the game that Field House was seriously trailing behind by his batting. It was Roy Fredericks that gave him the hints that made him a good bowler that ended up becoming one of the bowlers of the Nigerian Cricket team up until 1975 that he joined the Air Force through the Nigerian Defence Academy. He hinted him that as a tall man, he should not bother to bowl spins but should use his height advantage to become a seamer (a fast bowler). He also put him through the fundamentals of batting.

Sofi began to attend the meetings of the set of 1968/72/74 when Ricky 0 Jammer invited him after a casual meeting near his house at Alagomeji, Yaba, Lagos around 2002. He has since been attending most meetings in Lagos and Ibadan. Outside of the meetings, however; a joint near his house, called Ma Ble (short form of Blessing), is usually visited when his mates visit him. It has become a favorite joke of the likes of Ricky, Tori, Reagano, Nijano, Kimoj, Walseg, Jide Owoeye, and Seyi, mostly the Field House boys, to refer to it when they mention him and his escapades. “I may have to apply to become a member”, quipped Winston, when he last attended Ma Ble.

Sofi reminisces the day that each arm of the class was supposed to cut their portion of grass. His mates in 2 or 3C went to their portions. Odubiyi, Omo-Ebo (Ade Odutan), himself and another were cutting the grass close to the chapel, when Odubiyi came up with the bright idea that since it was during the harmattan period when the grass was dry enough to catch fire, he would set his own portion on fire. He did so but when the others saw his success they persuaded him not to put off the fire but to allow it to spread to their own portions. He accepted their pleas but as the fire spread it became uncontrollable and began to burn everything in its path. The boys were alarmed as they saw that it was spreading to the chapel and they sought for help. It was the Fire Brigade that saved the Chapel from burning down. That was how Odubiyi got the nickname ’Jenajena” (Fire Eater).

Sofi also remembers vividly the story of the groundnut seller famously referred to as “lya Elepa Nlo o’ This was the groundnut seller that frequently came to sell groundnuts in Field House. At a time when she had just had a baby, some of the boys, including Analos, were bugged for eating groundnuts inside the Black Maria that was conveying the students to the Stadium for a competition. In the bugging they even accused the boys of stealing some of the groundnuts. He remembers how Analos was reading the Magazine and someone came to him to point out that if he looks at one of the culprits, he just needed to read Anabos backwards to know the person being referred to. That was how Solana realized he was the butt of the joke and he went ahead to confiscate the magazine and prevent anyone from reading it.

Such recollections always amuse the old mates of the GCI 1968/72/74 set despite being in their 60s today and having known one another for the past 50 years.

Culled from Camaraderie - 1968 Set Golden Anniversary Publication

Submitted By: 

Design and Development by websesame.