Nicknames in GCI

It is over 44 years now that our class set left GOVERNMENT COLLEGE, IBADAN. We, members of the 62 Set are trying to remind ourselves, of the various call names we used in mocking one another.

Some of these names have gone into oblivion, while many others remain evergreen.

Some boys brought names from their various elementary schools. Those roots may not be known to many of us. Some came with designer names, which today’s boys call “guy names”. A few examples are: OBI TANKO for Obileye, APENCO for Ogunsola, OLU-OLAT for Olatunji, WILLY for Rotimi Williams, OMOT for Omoregbe, OBU for Obuaya and SALI for Salimonu.

In spite of all our rascality, we showed respect for some among us. This is why Koyenikan was called BROS KELLY. He carried more calendars in him than many of us. There was this little boy, Falore who was called BROS JOF. Many years after leaving GCI, some of us got to know why he was so called. He carried more calendars in him than was imagined. KORO was the college appellation for such boys.

Both categories of names may not stick if the recipients are not popular. Boys usually searched for names that fitted the mannerism or general configuration of carriers of such names. Some resisted their nicknames while others felt unconcerned. Nicknames stuck more when they were resisted, since they were meant to annoy you in the first place.

Boys with “guy names” liked such names, and often wrote such names on their books. You had to be exemplary to maintain as well as retain such a name. Oyenuga managed to retain YATURI as his call name. Though rascally, he was humble, quite unexpected of boys of his background.

Akinsola also managed to retain AKUSH as his own call name. Like we said earlier, call names were meant to properly situate the boys who carried such names, either to rubbish such boys or to enable us remember things that were taught in class.

One example was when we were taught the chemical and physical properties of copper (II) oxide, which we used to call cupric oxide in our own time. One physical property was the colour black. Boys felt that should fit someone; and that person was Yomi Adewunmi. Cupric oxide was considered too long, so boys settled for COPPER. To God be the glory, he has gladly accepted the name. When he was at the University of Ibadan, he was hardly known by the name Yomi Adewunmi.

One boy who did not retain his imported (guy) name was Obileye. Many boys got their names from the popular classic: “Things Fall Apart” written by Chinua Achebe. There was this nasty bird that had the effrontery to challenge his personal god or “chi” to a fight. The naughty bird is called ENEKE NTI OBA. Somehow, Obileye fitted the bill. OBI TANKO was not naughty but somehow, mates did not want this “guy” name to stick. He probably won the name because of his earlier association with birds. Anyone who knew Obileye as an adult will not believe that he was a talkative during our Class 1 days. He always had something to say elaboratorily on any topic on earth. That attribute earned him the name ‘Parrot’. It was ‘Parrot’ that gave rise to ‘Eneke Nti Oba’, or for short, ‘Eneke’.

As earlier stated, the more a nickname was resisted, the more it stuck.

That was exactly what happened in Oyenekan’s case who came by the name “OKA” the Yoruba name for cobra. He vehemently resisted this, and it vehemently stuck.

Though these names are supposed to be remembered with greatest sense of amusement, we shall resist to mention one of us who was called “Guinea Fowl”. This gentleman, a highly successful academic, is highly respected among us. He was one of the first in the Class Set to be made a Professor.

By the time we celebrate 100 years of our entry to GCI, we may consider a change in policy. Two of our boys, one a Mechanical Engineer (from Grier House) and the other a Dramatist (from Field House) had one thing in common. They had big noses, which ordinarily looked unusual then. But boys, in their mischief, alleged that they consumed more than their fair share of fresh air (oxygen) to the disadvantage of others, although the scientific postulation of that allegation is of doubtful authenticity. They were co-named ‘Oxygen’. This was the only shared nickname in the Set.

There were also two boys, Adewusi and Olatunji, who rejected their call names with all the physical strength at their command. They were big and strong, thereby putting them in a position to forcefully reject call names they did not like. They hated their nick-names and those of us who were wise only called them by the nick-names from a safe distance. Ogunlesi (a.k.a Ogan) and Kayode Rotimi-Williams (a.k.a Ako-Willy) both learnt a few lessons from Olatunji. Some of us who were wiser called Olatunji by his nick-name only from safe distances. It was safer to call Olatunji Olat-meh when you are near him!

Some boys did not resist their names. Such names were not taken too seriously.

Among the books for Literature-in-English in our Class 1C days, we had a text book titled ‘Ikolo the Wrestler.’ Harold Ikojo was called Ikolo the Wrestler, not because he could wrestle, but because Ikolo was similar to Ikojo.

One person whose name did not fit his character was Oyetunji, now a Reverend Gentleman. Ordinarily, Oyetunji was a pleasant person, who would not want to do anything that would injure the feelings of others. Wherever he went, he was a jolly good fellow. But that was Oyetunji on the House grounds of Carr House or the school compound only. When it came to playing football, he was a rough man. He would run, charge and attack anyone on his path ferociously that one day on Carr House field, Falore had to ask him, “Why are you charging everyone like a Bull?” From then on, Oyetunji became ‘Bull’ to all and sundry. He was not a bully in normal life outside the football pitch, but was called Bull.

Two of our boys looked fragile and effeminate respectively and they earned the nick-names, Obiageli and Hydra because they had female characteristics.

There were names that were accepted and did not carry much sting.

Fariyike was Dagger; he liked it. Bimbo Adewumi tolerated ‘Da Boy’ as a result of the way he pronounced the words ‘The boy’ instead of calling them ‘Di boy’. Oladimeji also tolerated KOJERE.

One could understand the reason why a person like Koyenikan would be called ‘Bros Kelly’ or ‘Egbon Kelly’, but we wondered why the small-statured boy, Falore, also wanted some of us to call his name with the prefix ‘Bros’. It was when he invited us to his 40th birthday anniversary celebration in October 1987 that some of us came to understand the basis of his demand!

Some boys called Obasa LISA. He tolerated it. Today it’s only Obileye who remembers this. We remember Akinsanya (AKI BAMBA) Ikotun (DESPY, the OLD SOLDIER).

In concluding, we must remember specially, two of our departed colleagues. They share many things in common: They were both in a hurry, strong, intelligent and were big achievers. OSOSA BOY, made a first class from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. He rose rapidly to become the regional manager of a leading bank. Unlike Oguntunde who proved his mates wrong in his nickname, Onayinka proved us right by becoming the Oba of OSOSA kingdom. His reign was short, but eventful. During his funeral, his subjects showed they truly loved him. We were proud of him. We can see that Onayinka and Oguntunde were birds of same feather. God bless them.

Submitted By: 

OBASA Olajide
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