There was something unique about Monday and Friday mornings in Ikirun, they were the days we had our general assemblies. Today as we continue in this series, I will share my first general assembly experience of November 3, 1997 with you.
There are schools with grounds specially marked out for holding general assemblies, but not FGC Ikirun, remember that the school was still at its early days thus most facilities were makeshift and often serving more than one purpose. Did I tell you that our chapel services held in the dining hall? We also had an hostel we called lab-hostel because it was originally built to be a laboratory but at a time we used it as a hostel despite the laboratory fittings. Our general assemblies were held in the open space between the block housing the staff room and the SSS 1 block then.
Allow me to take you on a minor tour of these two blocks that enclosed our assembly ground. Almost all the blocks in Ikirun had four rooms each. So our staff room was not the only room in the block referred to as the staff room block, the block also accommodated the school library, the store and fine art studio. I’m tempted to give you gist about the library but I won’t yield, we will get to talk about that later.
Every class in Ikirun for the first five years of its existence had five arms designated with alphabets A-E. For the junior classes, you were simply placed in any of the arms and you maintain the same class all through JSS. Unlike schools like Mayflower College, Okene you were not assigned to a class based on your performance or any other criteria for that matter. However, for senior classes, arms A and B were for science students, arm C was the Technical class, arm D was commercial class and arm E was the arts class. The block we referred to as our SSS 1 block did not house all the arms of the SSS 1 class, the block only accommodated SSS 1 A-D, SSS 1 E shared a block with JSS 3 A-C.
So, after the sumptuous meal that Monday morning we all returned to our various rooms. We had some seniors in our room, chief of which was Farouk Sheji. He it must have been, or one of the other seniors around, that told us the siren would soon be heard again and when it sounded we should proceed to the assembly ground. Few minutes passed between when we had our breakfast and when the siren sounded, the little time was accorded us to allow our food digest a little. At the sound of the siren, chaos descended. Our block being the first hostel block was no fun, every teacher and prefect found it easy to barge into our room and chase us out for the assembly and so we all scrambled out of the room in fear of canes from different angles and persons. Many of those chases were needless.
As the newcomers, we were the first on the assembly ground. Slowly, the bigger boys and girls surfaced afterwards. Then the teachers showed up next. We waited a little while and then noticed a man in agbada come in from the direction of the admin block. He was accompanied by the Vice Principal, Mr. Oderinwale and some other senior staff. You didn’t need to be told, he was the boss, our Principal, Elder T.A. Oyebode. I don’t remember ever seeing our principal, Elder Timothy Oyebode in anything other than agbada.
At this period in Ikirun, we had just one Vice Principal, it was later that we had two – Vice Principal in charge of Administration (VP admin) and Vice Principal in charge of Academics (VP Acad). I remember clearly that the VP, Mr. Oderinwale lived in the staff quarters, he shared a block with Mr. Adewunmi (of sports). It is hard to forget because their block was in front of the stream. The Principal however did not live within the school premises.
After getting to the table and chair that had been arranged for him and the other staff, the principal spoke into the amplifier, “let’s sing the national anthem.” To the left of the principal on that raised platform was the drummer and his set of drums. In between the drummer and the principal was our conductor, Patrick Obafemi. He was in yellow house and was the social prefect. His act in conducting when singing the anthem was a spectacle to behold, just for the fun of it though. Who understood the movements he made with his hands? There was another spectacular thing we did while singing the national anthem. For comic effect we ended every line of the national anthem with the words “f’agolo mu gari.” Its hard to explain but it was fun, as long as we reduced our voices when including our addendum to the national anthem. The words arose from the sound the drum made.
The national anthem was usually followed with prayers. After which news will be read to us by a member of the Press club, the club was headed by Mr. Amusan. We had several newscasters, but for me Ngozi Ezekafor stood out because we attended same primary school, I’m not sure she was the one that read the news that first day. After the news, the principal addressed us, particularly welcoming us the new students. His address to us that day didn’t end until he admonished the seniors on our behalf. The principal never ended any address without telling us “no bullying, no fagging.” Many of us didn’t know what that meant because he never explained to us, nevertheless, the words soon became a part of our vocabulary – bullying and fagging.
After the address by the principal, next on the agenda was a rendition of the school anthem. We were encouraged to learn the school anthem. The anthem was composed by Mr Oke, his house was on the path to the stream and he shared a block with Mr. Amusan. He was our music teacher and I must confess that he was a good composer. That day, we were introduced to the school anthem that went thus:
“O God of creation,
We have come together, from so many states to search for knowledge that we may all be blessings to the whole nation,
From FGCI our alma mater.
We pray to God,
To be our guide,
Teach us to live with love and peace,
FGC Ikirun our alma mater.
Great Great Great fellow students,
Great Great Great our teachers,
Great Great Great our college,
Great Great Great our alma mater.”
Many of us loved our school anthem from that day we first heard it and still do, it is one of the sweet memories of FGC Ikirun.
After the anthem, we said the pledge to signal the end of the assembly. While the older students marched to their various classes, we waited behind for further directions.
I am @seunalade