ILESA GRAMMAR SCHOOL AT 70
Chief Leye Falore
Ilesa Grammar School has come of age. The school was 70 years recently. The road to greatness of Ilesa Grammar School has been tough and rough. The success story of the school is due to the unrelenting efforts of the founding Proprietor of the school (Egbe Atunluse Ile Ijesa), the early Principals and Tutors, the high standard of discipline and sense of responsibility set by the early boys and the doggedness of the later and present generations of students to maintain the set standard and keep the flag of excellence flying.
The story of Ilesa Grammar School can be traced to 9th April, 1924 during one of the meetings of Egbe Atunluse when a member of the society, Dr Oguntola Sapara, moved a motion that ‘emphasis should now be laid on educational matters concerning Ijesa’. That was the day Egbe Atunluse planted the mustard seed that later grew up to become a gigantic educational tree in Ijesaland. It took almost ten years before the emerging tree became fruitful. Quite a number of steps and decisions were taken by Egbe Atunluse before the school eventually took off in 1934. These included
- Seeking and obtaining the support of His Royal Majesty Oba Oduyomade Aromolaran I and Owa-in-Council for the establishment of the school,
- The siting of the school at Ilesa (being the biggest town in Ijesaland),
- Naming the school ‘Ilesa Grammar School” (following a suggestion by Mr. J. S. Oginni in 1928 at one of the meetings of Egbe Atunluse
- Obtaining the gift of 50 acres of land from Chief Ajayi Obe (the then Leemodu of Ilesa) for use as the proposed school’s permanent site,
- Employing the foundation Principal (Rev. E. C. Doherty) and founding Tutor (Mr. E. O. Lucas),
- Setting up of the school’s Management Board under the Chairmanship of Capt. J. A. Mackenzie (then District Officer (DO) for Ife/Ijesa Division in August 1933).
On the orders of the governing board, a competitive entrance examination was conducted on the 18th of January 1934 for pupils seeking admission into the new school. Twenty-one boys were, consequent upon the examination, given admission, among them were Emmanuel Asaolu (now Fafowora), Ezekiel Aofolajuwonlo,Elder John Aoko,Enoch Ayeni, Gabriel Aluko-Oluokun,Habibu Karimu, Samuel Doherty, Adolphous Doherty and Eric Mabayoje.
Although classes commenced informally on Monday, 29th January ,1934 the formal opening of the school took place a week later, precisely on Monday, 5th February, 1934 at a colourful ceremony presided over by no less a personality than the DO for Ife/Ilesa District – Capt. J. A. Mackenzie – who was also the Chairman of the school’s Board of Management. Ever since then, successive generations of staff and students of Ilesa Grammar School have always earmarked 5th February as the Founders’ Day every year.
While welcoming the foundation students to the school on their first day, the principal told them, among other things, that the school motto would be either ‘A ce quid a ce’ (a Greek phrase interpreted as ‘Do what you are doing’) or ‘andre zeste’ (another Greek phrase meaning ‘Play the Man’). This was later translated to ‘E huwa Omoluwabi’ during the time of Rev. N. O. A. Lahanmi as Principal.
‘Omoluwabism’ connotes that undying spirit of hardwork, chivalry and fair play, the determination to excel at everything, and the wish to be a perfect gentleman. It is the legacy bequeathed to every student of Ilesa Grammar School. And it pays good dividends. The ‘Omoluwabis’ are everywhere, in all fields of human endeavour and they stand head above others.
Right from the beginning, religion might have been used unconsciously to nurture a tradition of honesty, dedication to duty, self-determination and self-reliance, all summed up in the essence of ‘Omoluwabism’. The boys were taught to excel in whatever they did and to know that the good things of life could only be achieved by courtesy, kindness, good comportment and good manners in general. They were taught to portray the evidence of good breading received from the school to the outside world. Asperity and vugarism were to be eschewed. Those were the founding traditions. But are they still valid today? The answer is ‘Yes’. From generation to generation, the spirit of ‘Omoluwabism’ is passed.
Evidence abound to show that the various generations of boys and girls who were privileged to be trained in Ilesa Grammar School have, over the years, successfully passed the baton of excellence, dedication to duty, self-reliance and rugged personal confidence in oneself from one to another.
What Late Chief E. O. I. Fafowora (1934-1936) and Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo (OFR)(1952) thinks of Ilesa Grammar School is identical to what Bosun Falore FCA (1972) and Yomi Olomolaiye (1968-1972) thinks. The same graceful attributes of ‘Omoluwabism’ found in Dr (Mrs) Iyabo (Onibonoje) Osanyin (1971) and Dr (Mrs) ‘Dupe (Falayi) Dairo (1970) are evident in Miss Tola Ogunseitan (1985-1991) as well as Chief Sonny Odogwu, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Justice Alfa Belgore, Ayo Oni (FCA), Prof. Oye Ibidapo Obe, Gbenga Aluko, Prof. Wale Omole,Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Chief Phillip Umeadi (SAN) and Engr. Teju Oyeleye among others.
On the academic side, the exemplary records of Hon. Justice Emmanuel Araka, Prince Adedokun Haastrup, Dr F. A. Ajayi, Hon. Justice Kayode Eso, and Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande in the 1940’s ran through subsequent generations in Mr. E. O. Okotore, and Dr Omotoso in the 1950’s Prof. Banji Ayoola, Engr. D. A. Oni, Engr. Doyin Adelekun, Dr Obi Daramola, Dr Kamoru Omotoso, Dr Siyan Malomo and Mr Adediran Akinjogbin in the 1960’s, Prof. Isaac Adewole, Commodore Tomi (Emmanuel) Olamilokun, Pastor Daisi Akinyelu, Engr Gbenga Adeyemi, Engr James Olarewaju, Capt Samuel Olarewaju and Dr Dimeji Alo in the 1970’s down to Mr Tunde Ogedengbe and Mr Lekan Mohammed in the 1980’s and 1990’s respectively.
Few schools in Nigeria have been able to sustain their traditions of over sixty years the way Ilesa Grammar School had done. Through modifications occasioned by leadership changes, environmental growth and development, modification of facilities and others, the spirit of ‘Omoluwabism’ stands firm.
Since the inception of the school, few, if any aspects if the student life, has undergone frequent changes as often as the school uniform. Over the years, the students mode of dressing to school or inside the school premises changed on more than three occasions.
When the school formally took off in 1934, attention was not paid to the type of dresses that the foundation boys wore to school. They were permitted to put on their personal clothes.
By 1936, the use of brown khaki shirt over brown khaki pair of shorts had become law. This lasted till 1950’s when the brown khaki shirt was replaced by white shirt while the brown khaki pair of shorts was retained until the days of Ijesa Comprehensive High School in the late-1960’s. It now had to change to white shirt patterned with blue stripes over navy-blue pair of shorts for boys and stripped white blouses with blue skirts with or without pinafore for the girls. Incidentally, when the Comprehensive High School reverted to its old name (Ilesa Grammar School), status, and glory, the adopted uniform of Ijesa Comprehensive High School days remained. And that has been the school uniform till today. Sometime, in the 1970’s the Higher School Certificate boys were allowed to wear pairs of trousers, but this privilege was short-lived. This is probably not unconnected with the fact that the Tutors had a lot of problems coping with the arrogance of the Sixth Form boys. And one way of cutting the boys to size was to remove this ego-boosting privilege of wearing pairs of trousers as school uniform!
The boy’s cap was worn by boys of the pre-independence days as part of the school uniform in and outside the school premises. It was then the vogue and served as the better means of identify than the brown shirt and pair of shorts of that time.
The school cap, apparently, was one of the relics of colonialism which were done away with on Nigerian’s attainment of political independence in 1960 in Ilesa Grammar School. The present and old students of the school do not appear to be eager to see to its re-introduction into the students’ garb now or in future.
While the wearing of shoes by boys was taken as luxury in the days of Rev. N.O.A. Lahanmi and Revd. Canon J. A. Akinyemi, it is unimaginable today to see a student of Ilesa Grammar School in school uniform within or outside the school premises without a pair of shoes on.
A visit to the school would reveal neatly dressed male and female students wearing beautiful uniforms with brown polished leather sandals with buckles or white canvas shoes.
The academic facilities provided at Ilesa Grammar School had never been adequate and would never be. But if the present tempo of generous donations by the old Students’ Association, both as individuals and as group continues, the facilities may be near adequate. From the multi purpose hall of 1934, the school now boasts of several functional buildings, many of which were donated. There are Staff Quarters, the students’ hostels (now converted to other uses), the science laboratories, and lots of classrooms. Among the donated structures and facilities are the:
- School Gate donated by Club ’55
- Main access road to the school paved with asphalt (financed by late Ambassador Adedokun Haastrup)
- Modern Administrative Block containing the offices of the Principal, the Vice-Principals, the Bursar, the other Administrative staff donated by the Old Students’ Association
- Technical Workshop donated by Club ’48
- Block of six classrooms donated by Chief Sonny Odogwu
- Modern standard library named after Rev. N.O.A. Lahanmi donated by the Old Students’ Association (with substantial financial support from late Chief E.O. Ashamu)
- Six personal computers donated by the 1968-1972 Club.
Principals and Tutors of Old
The school authority had always provided the enabling academic environment for serious learning. And one of the fundamental pre-requisites for this position lies in the stuff that the academic and administrative leadership of the school was made of. It was realised early enough that failure in an academic institution was like a fish. It starts to get rotten from the head. So, right from the onset, high premium was placed on the calibre of Principal and Tutors employed to work in the school. In so doing, emphasis was placed not only on academic qualifications, but also on attributes of honesty, love for hard work, and dedication to what the school stood for, in the selection of members of staff. Even today, the school has one of the best of available human materials for any secondary school.
All the fourteen past Principals who held the leadership position in the school, from the founding Principal, Revd. Canon E. C. Doherty, to the immediate past Principal, Mr. T. Alaka, were known to have put in their best to keep the school’s flag of excellence flying. Each of the will be remembered for one good service or another rendered to the school.
The old Principals, through whose hands the thousands of boys and girls who were privileged to attend Ilesa Grammar School, passed were as follows:
- Revd. Canon E. C. Doherty, M. A. L Th (1934 – 1936)
- Rev. N. O. A. Lahanmi, M. A. (1930 – 1953)
- Revd. Canon J. A. Akinyemi, B. A., Dip. Ed. (1953 – 1964)
- Mr. J. O. Molomo, B.Sc, (1965 – 1966)
- Ven. R. E. Ariyo, B. A. (1966 – 1969)
- Revd. Canon J. A. Oni, M. A. Dip. Ed. (1969 – 1975)
- Mr. G. O. Fagbeyiro, B. A., (1975 – 1977)
- Mr. E. O. Alabi, B. A., Dip. Ed. (1977 – 1979)
- Mr. T. ‘Bode Ogunseitan, J. P., B.Sc (Econs) (1980 – 1984)
- Mr. J. Ola Oni, M. A. F.R. Econs (Lond) (1984 – 1990)
- Loja (Deacon) Adeoye Adelekun B.Sc, M.Ed. (1990 –1992)
- Mr. Olabode Agunbiade, B.Sc (1992 – 1996)
- Mr. L. O. Bamkefa, B.Sc (1997 – 1999)
- Mr. T. Alaka (1999 – 2003)
For now, Ilesa Grammar School remains the educational pacesetter and the cradle of ‘Omoluwabism’ in Ijesaland. As the great school clocks 70 years this month, let all the ‘Omoluwabis’ rise up and raise their voices in singing the second stanza of the School Song:
Character you have moulded,
Great nation you have built
We owe you a lot of gratitude
For the right attitude
To face life with fortitude
Great school you are
- Extract of "Ilesa Grammar School --- cradle of Omoluwabism"
( a yet to be published book on Ilesa Grammar School)