…Rev Mason handed the baton to Rev Ogunlade (left)
REMEMBERING MY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL,LATE CHIEF R.A.OGUNLADE
‘BID ME FAREWELL’…
To our young hearts he was the only guru. The perfect living master who lit candles of understanding in our hearts. He gave us our beginning. He told us to lead by example. He made us to believe in ourselves and above all, in the wondrous benevolence of God through Jesus Christ.
Even as I sit here crying and writing I remember those days in our chapel, our common ground, our centre of wisdom, our sanctuary, our Graceland. I still can see him standing on the pulpit delivering one of his many “Sermons on the Mount”. I remember the Friday announcements of “impositions” and “detentions”. I remember the graveyard silence when the dreaded lists were read. Thereafter the sighs of relief that followed. I remember the determination of many of us not to be part of those lists. We were always aware of Otura’s long arms of discipline.
Late Canon Mason taught us about Agamemnon and Greeks of the Classical Age. But Otura nurtured the modern day Greeks of Nigeria. He was responsible for nurturing many successful sets which have produced distinguished professionals in fields such as Accountancy, Journalism, Advertising, Public Relations, Music, Medicine, Architecture etc.
He gave us six hours of sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool. He detested lazy approaches, attitudes and methods. He made us know that many things will be difficult before they are easy. He said bad things will mend when they are worst. He gave us hope. He gave us determination to succeed. He told us to be the best in everything we do. Whether as a Chairman, Chief Executive or as a truck pusher. We were to excel in anything we put our hands to.
Many outsiders wonder at the ecstasy springing from old students of Christ’s School,Ado- Ekiti each time they meet each other on roads, markets, offices, airports etc. We cannot blame them. They did not sit in our quadrangle. They never climbed the Agidimo hills. They did not share in our stories about snakes. They did not compete house by house to kill rabbits or small antelopes. None of them demanded for a fair share of meat for his house as we did under OTURA.
And how many principals in Nigeria are football coaches of their first eleven? Otura was one.A shining example from the beginning to the very end. He taught me how to bend over a ball when shooting at the goal. On the field of play he was a master tactician. In his first year as principal and with great footballers like Shapiro (Sapara). Aribay (Arigbede) Rigogo (later Makosa) (lyayi) Agbe-Davis, Garrick (The Gentleman) and Jack Solo (Solomon), our school reached the final of the Thermo gene Cup (The forerunner of Principals Cup) of the Western Region.
To Otura, work and play were partners for nurturing us. Academics and sports were part and parcel of a well–known agenda. He practiced what he preached throughout our golden years at school.
He could accept natural follies but would not tolerate learned ones. Especially those copied from classmates without the presence of one’s productive mind. To be called to his office for noise making or fighting was great misfortune. Such misfortunes never came to our buttocks in the form of a single lash. His cane could be as merry as a cricket. But we were all the better for it. We were made to conform to the norms of the society or differ constructively. Those with special talents like Moyo Ogundipe (Fine Arts) and Iyabo Oguntusa (Drama) were praised before students to the point of hero-worship.
No product of Otura could have engaged in 419 or cocaine-pushing. Check our records. If by any chance there was one, such was never a real product of our guru.
As we remember our Principal with love and affection we may also reflect on the following words of
“No exorciser harm thee
Nor no witchcraft charm thee
Ghost laid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummations have;
And renowned be thy grave!’’
And of John Donne’s (slightly modified)
“Death be not proud though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for them are not so for those whom you think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet can’s thou kill me
From Rest and Sleep, which but thy picture be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow;
And soonest OUR BEST MEN like Otura with thee do go
Rest of their bones and souls’ delivery!
To those of us he left behind, he would most probably want to leave us with these kind words of wisdom
“I have got my leave. Bid me farewell my brothers!
I bow to all and take my departure.
Here, I give back the keys of my door
And I give up claims to my house.
I only ask for last kind words from you
We were neighbors for long
But I received more than I could give
Now the day has dawned.
And the lamp that lit my corner is out
A summon has come
And I am ready for my journey’’
SLEEP WELL OUR PRINCIPAL, TEACHER, FATHER AND GURU. SLEEP WELL!
O.O.ODUMOSU ( EX- PROPRIETOR, MASON COLLEGE, FESTAC)