The People Who Made Me
I attended Festac Grammar School from 1984 to 1989. These are the names of some of my teachers in secondary school. I intend to write another story about my primary school teachers. All these teachers and my parents made me who I am today. Thank you so much.
Mr. Famuyisan was my class teacher in class one and my father met him many times. I’m sad that I don’t remember much about him but I knew he was helpful to form my first year in high school.
Mr. Ezennadi taught me geography. It was through Mr. Ezennadi that I learnt about the Land of the Midnight Sun. I live there today.
Mr. Ezennadi promoted the use of the school badge and I thought he was a wicked man. But now I realized it was about our common identity. He wanted me to be proud of my school and to understand that it will come to shape and define my future.
I remember Mr. Olatunji my physics teacher. This man was a walking textbook. A civil engineer by qualification and a teacher by profession Mr. Olatunji inspired me in the field of science. He told me that ordinarily as an engineer he should be sitting at the top floor of a high-rise somewhere. But he was happy with the way he carried on with his job. I think he later left for the Ministry of Works. Thank you for the years you gave me.
Mrs. Kalejaiye went the extra mile to explain integrated science. She told me never to go about with my mouth open. She said I should instead open my eyes and observe things. Her words were enough for me.
Mrs. Faleti taught me Biology but she skipped many lessons. That was not a good attitude from a teacher but biology was my favourite subjects when I left class 5. Somehow her slackness became the source of my strength because I had to form my notes and study extra hard to pass my tests and exams. Thank you Mrs. Faleti! Your master’s degree in those days was not common and it was part of my inspiration.
I also remembered that it was you Mrs. Faleti that backed my nomination for the position of the laboratory prefect because you knew I’d been excellent as one of the longest serving class captains at that time. You also backed my nomination and selection as the school’s best behaved student in 1987. You knew me, and you shocked my father who thought I was a bit stubborn at home.
Mrs. Bashorun, you spoke softly. You are beautiful and elegant. You were also brilliant. In simple ways, you taught me chemistry with near perfection.
Mrs. Ayodele you made an early impact as my fine art teacher but there was another fine art teacher who taught me more practical things that I was able to put up an advert sign on my mother’s kiosk. I’m sad not to remember the name of my second art teacher.
Mr. Akomas also taught fine art but at that time I’d dropped the subjects for core sciences. Mr. Akomas, I saw you from a distance but I learnt from you all the same. You didn’t tolerate laziness and you were strict in a good way. I saw that!
Mrs. Olayomi, thank you for teaching me business studies and commerce. The best thing I remembered about you was the positive feedback you gave me in 1987 when you combined class 3E and 3F. You made me feel like a star when you said: the thing you like about me was that I was always clear when I answered your questions or give my opinion during class contributions.
To this day, people listen when I talk in meetings and gatherings and this is because you made me realized the importance of being clear and straightforward. You don’t know this but I think about that positive feedback anytime I’m heading for any meeting or interview. I have to be clear, I always tell myself. Thank you Mrs. Olayomi!
Mrs. Enwerem taught me Accounts in class 3. She made it one of my best subjects. I could write a cash book and double column books of account and other stuffs like that. And I could balance the account for all the sales trading companies. I love accounts back then.
Too bad I don’t remember the name of my economics teacher but I can still hear the echoes of demand and supply, advantages and disadvantages of international trade and money as a legal tender. In fact trade by barter made sense. My economics teacher was a woman who was fond of saying: come what, what may and ceteris paribus.
Mr. Osuoyah was my history teacher. He told me the story of Wolof-Jolof. He also told me the stories of many empires of the Old Days. I always think about the story of the bastard and legitimate states and the story of the cripple who fought and won battles.
Mr. Osuoyah frightened me with the story of people who were eating lizards and seeking permission to eat humans. I have not been able to verify if he was speaking of Lebanon or another country at war.
Mr. Osuoyah was on the list of the “wicked” teacher. He was a disciplinarian I would say and I did all I could to escape his numerous judgments and punishments. It means I don’t go late to school, I don’t come late to lessons, I don’t fly the school fence, I come to lessons prepared and I am neat and well dressed.
Mr. Nwaowoma was my vice principal. Baba goes round the school to see that everything was in order. You can tell that he was trained to be both a teacher and administrator. He was smart and articulate. In you Mr. Nwaowoma I saw true dedication and the zeal to help others succeed. You were never tired and you never gave up that all students could be taught the right things.
Mrs. Jekami taught Home Economics. I did Agricultural science but still our paths crossed. I was frequent to the teachers’ staff rooms to say: we have you now to the other teachers. You knew me and always call out Aderounmu. From you and the teachers who never taught me directly I learnt to pay attention to the things around me. It’s a rare quality for a true leader. I learnt it well. I lead well.
Alhaja Quadri taught Arabic and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK). I don’t remember so many things about her. She was soft spoken, easy going but she can sting if you cross her path as a disobedient student
Alhaja Fasasi taught IRK as well. She was the mother of Baba D and Sound Sultan. Alhaja Fasasi was strict. I remembered one day that she flogged all the students from class 1A to 1F. It was not funny. Where did she get the energy to do that? But I respect her. I learnt she inspired many students through music about Islam.
Mrs. Talabi was my year tutor in class one. She taught fine art, I think. She was among the senior teachers and very well respected.
Mr olanrewaju was a teacher for a brief time in FGS. He was my class teacher in class 2 and he taught me mathematics. I don’t think I will remember him if I run into him in a public place. He was probably a youth corper during his time at FGS. He was young, handsome and had a good handwriting. He left an impression.
Yetunde Olabisi Alli was my class teacher in class 5. She taught government which means she didn’t get the chance to teach me any subject. But she wanted me to be class captain again in class 5 and I accepted. From that day, her work became lighter because I held on to the class register and marked who was absent or present. I reported to her regularly.
We had good contact even after 1989. I sent her a letter in 1996 during my service year at IITA Ibadan and she replied all the way from her new home in New Jersey. I wonder where you are now but I hope life is treating you kind Yetunde Alli. You have no idea how much I learnt from you: strength of character, independent mind and the determination to always forge ahead. You should know that you were called the Iron Lady back in the days.
Mr. Akinlade taught Yoruba in the senior classes when I started at FGS. He left at some point and then returned again. Was he on sabbatical? Mr. Akinlade became a principal in the 90s at one of these schools in the Lagos riverine area. Sir, I just want to say thank you for calling on me to lead the assembly prayer that fateful day in 1987. When I add that one chance to all the privileges as a class captain, it boosted my self-confidence forever. I wondered now if you had been listening to the morning bells and prayers from our flat. You lived close and we were prayer warriors!
Mr. Aregbesola taught me B.K but I dumped the subject after class 3. You were really good sir and I remembered how you paid attention to every details and how you read between the lines to make sure that I had done the correct thing. All of these have contributed to making me who I am.
Mrs. Osobu taught me Agricultural science in class 4 and 5. She built on the foundation that was laid by Mr. Dada who had taught me earlier from class 1 to 3. Mr. Dada taught me both theory and practical stuffs. I made farm diaries, worked in our famous poultry, collected and named different plants and weeds. I remember Festac Market women queuing to buy eggs from our school poultry! Gone are those days! Thank you Mrs. Osobu and Mr. Dada!
Mrs. Okolo was one of my English teachers. I spoke with Mrs. Okolo several times on the way to school and sometimes on the way back. I remember one of our conversations and I kept it in my heart to this day. She was concerned by the falling standard of education way back in the late 80s. I would like to ask her for her opinion now that public schools have suffered a near extinction in Nigeria.
Mrs. Emordi taught English language too. I remember I had to make a presentation in the classroom about any interesting news item. Mike Tyson was hot so I spoke about how he became the youngest heavyweight champion. The project was like delivering NTA news in the classroom except that it wasn’t propaganda.
Literature teacher, class 3. I can’t remember her name now. She taught us from the book EFURU. It was a wonderful story book. EFURU as I remembered was a young and extremely beautiful woman. We read EFURU in such a way that we could almost touch the beautiful woman in the story.
It’s not a good indication that I don’t remember the name of all my literature teachers. We also read WITHOUT A SILVER SPOON, THE LION AND THE JEWEL and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. We read lullabies. A heart to hate you is as far as the moon, a heart to love you is as near as he door. For me, these books went on to add to the definitions of my struggles and shaped my lives.
Mrs. S.K.Y. Faloye was my principal at FGS. I can’t remember the exact years of her reign. She was strict. I remember she started the concept of class captain keeping records of teachers’ attendance and the topic done for each day. She goes through all the records at the end of day and we-the class captains picked them up against the next day. SKY Faloye must have helped me to be a person who makes plan and keeps order with things. I have a feeling that having a time for almost everything and everyone were traits I unconsciously got from this woman.
Mr. Asagbra taught physics. He was teaching the senior students when I started in form 1. I may have encountered him as a member of the JETS club. JETS=Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists. There was another science teacher whom I noticed at that time. I don’t remember his name but he was quite huge and he led the JETS meeting a few times. These teachers left before I got to class 3 but they left marks as huge as they were.
Mrs. Akpata taught commercial subjects and typewriting. You will always find her in the typing pool with all the typing machines and happy students who had no idea that the machines were about to become obsolete. I don’t remember having more than one lesson of typewriting and I can’t remember if I’d used the machine for fun or during a real lesson. But just thinking about the typing pool now gives me that nostalgic feeling that I knew when I started at FGS that I was going to learn a lot before my graduation. I did.
Mrs. Ajibolade taught me Almighty formula of the quadratic equations and I can’t forget the simultaneous equations. The substitution methods among many other topics in mathematics remain useful until this day. She was my third maths teacher in secondary school. What a great mathematician! What a mentor!
Mrs. Ibigbami was my P.H.E teacher. It was hard for me to learn other sports because I was too addicted to football and table tennis. But she tried; the volleyball court was mounted on top of our second football field right in front of my classroom-1E so I was compelled to play volleyball.
FGS also had a special handball posts. I mean on the main football pitch, we played football competitions with handball goal posts because they were permanently fixed. You can imagine why I became a prolific scorer. If you trained with handball goal posts, normal football goal posts will become a bonanza.
Unfortunately I don’t remember the names of all of my teachers. However I must add that I returned to FGS in 1992 and worked there at various times until 2000. That ensured that I worked with some of these teachers listed above and other newer teachers. The experiences of those years as a student, as a voluntary teacher and later as PTA teacher remain the defining moments of my life. Not even the times I spent as a GA at CMUL can compare to those years at FGS.