AT A SPEECH/AWARDS CEREMONY FOR GRADUATING STUDENTS OF MASON COLLEGE,FESTAC
Our Honorable Guests, Parents, Press, Graduating Students, Staff Members , other students and invitees. You are welcome.
Today we give a thousand thanks to the good Lord for making it possible to gather here for what may turn out to be a period of testimonies on and about our students, honored guests, staff and parents.
In a way it is also a moment to pat different people on their backs and offer congratulatory words to our students and their parents for staying the course and for providing financial, moral and technical back-up for the school and students.
It is a day to tell our ex-SS3 students that their SPRING HAS SPRUNG and that its time to move on.
However we shall do this while sharing some experiences about them and our honored guests too. Let me start with honored guests who are made up essentially of our parents and ex-staff members (Experiences with each person are at this stage recounted with emphasis on their contributions to the school).
In congratulating our students we must also think about the future of our university graduates. The future of an average Nigerian citizen will usually be linked to the conditions that will be present in our country then. So the next question is what is going to be the future or the fate of our motherland this year or next year or in 2007 or thereafter? Are they questions we must leave hanging in the air while we express our various opinions strongly in private? How can such attitude help the future of those graduating today?
A few years ago at an August occasion like this we recounted the dilemma the Nigerian students continue to face not only when they are out of school but even when they are in school. Many educators fail to recognize these factors and therefore find it impossible to know what exactly should be their roles in the overall scenario.
Firstly, students find it difficult to link what they learn in school/classrooms with genuine productive activities in our society. None of our students have real heroes except perhaps in people like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe whose books they read. The next sets of heroes for them are those to be found in Nigerian and foreign movies and music world. There is no real avenue in our country for a child to develop into Bill Gates or Isaac Newton or to become a REAL Nuclear Physicist. Put them in the most private schools and spend a lot of money to massage your ego that your child is at a really special school. But which Nigerian University can develop him or her into becoming a space scientist? Where do we have the REAL research laboratories to help in carrying out findings and putting a stop to Malaria, Sickle Cell Anemia, Aids, Hypertension or Diabetes? There is really no challenging environment for our students to dream in for becoming Nobel Prize Winner in Physics or Chemistry. It is my opinion that students do not think highly about academic work, school or tutors not because tutors do not wear the latest Gucci shoes but because the end point of all efforts to them is hazy and do not go beyond the passing of Examination and obtaining certificates. The need to really dig deep for facts which might be useful to them later in life is not of great importance to them.
Secondly, many secondary school students see their older brothers and sisters coming out with fantastic university degrees but without jobs after NYSC. They know about their brothers and sisters attending GMAT exams with 20,000 other graduates for 20 managements trainee places at Cadbury. Unilever or Zenith Bank.
Thirdly, they also see some jobs that are successful in Nigeria do not necessarily need great education. The most prominent job in this group is that of being a politician. What about fast food joints or some so – called places of worship where magic is performed and the pastors go about in different Hummer Jeeps? Again many of them know how hard their parents struggle to keep the family together with hard work but with almost nothing to show for their efforts at the end of the day.
My suggestion therefore is that in planning for the future of our children, we educators must continually plan to equip them with relevant skill acquisition methods that can make them more fulfilled whatever happens. I must say with pride that we do this at Mason College and we have products to back up this statements. One of our students finished school cert, in June and by August was already the manager of a cybercafé in Festac with over 20 systems. Today he is a student of Covenant University but he was really radiant the day he came back to school to inform us with some pride.
Apart from skill acquisition our students must understand that they face a lot of unfair weather in this country because of relatively meager resources which are released or doled in small pieces to the majority by a few fat cats. Therefore they must not fail to criticize these cats.In fact they should be prepared to fight against this very obvious injustice in the system. They must look forward to joining other groups of people who are interested in a complete overhaul of the system. Otherwise the suffering will go on for generations. To do this they must have their education continuously related by their schools to clear purposes in the classroom. They must perfect their compositions, improve their spoken English and practice public speaking as an art. They must learn more about Local and International etiquette. They may also need to identify those to push into the lagoon. At Mason College we attempt a great deal to teach our students the use of cutleries though corrections where many times only grudgingly accepted. But when you are out of the country as students, visitors or businessmen, you will understand that the average white man is a curious human being who may decide to do business with you by observing the way you combine the use of forks knives and spoons. Unfortunately the black man historically is discretely observed by them to know whether we are civilized or not through such norms. Remember we also gave you ideas about music from other lands. Without turning you into ballet dancers, we showed you at closed quarters what is meant by Samba, Rumba, Tango, Cha-Cha, Waltz, Foxtrot and Jive. We showed you that apart from the usual games there are also what we call unusual games. We took you to the National Stadium not only to participate in sports but to give you a database for reference in case you become future sports administrators in the country for all these your parents bore the expenses sometimes with pain. We did not stop there. We also made you to practice and compete with the so-called famous and big schools in the Shell Choral group. Thanks to the work of our late Mr. Enang the great musicologist and musician. May I respectfully at this juncture ask all those present to please rise up to observe a minute silence in honor of this great man who led our school to victory in the SHELL mUSIC competition but who passed away last year. He used to call me “Patrol” in a special way but I never really asked him why he did and never asked him what he meant by it. But both of us had a great understanding for beautiful music. Now I wish I had asked him.
Talking about your future, you must already know that this future might find you at LASU, UNILAG, Covenant, Ahmadu Bello, and UNN or in USA, Canada, Britain, Dubai,India or Hong Kong. You must remember that you have been given all round education with purpose at Mason College. Everything might not become obvious to you now but we know each of you will bloom in God’s own time. Ours is to plant the seed but God will add water and manure for its germination and bloom. Today our old students for your information have started some form of Mason College Festac Alumni. Just type Mason College Festac and you will see some of the old pictures they have already posted on the site. The school will in future decide how to be participatory in the alumni project.Just type Mason College Festac(now http://lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com) and you will see some of the old pictures posted on the site. You therefore have the means for being in contact with your seniors, classmates, juniors as well as the school. For this future the best we can wish you is that you find SUCCESS with HAPPINESS to live fulfilling lives.
It is a future that might challenge how deep your faith in our loving God is. It is a future that might ask you to prove that you are responsible family men and women. Or whether you are a boss that could be tough and yet be understanding with your subordinates.
The only certainty about this future is that it will eventually come. That future after Mason College has already begun for many of you. Some of you have traveled out of the country while many are already in higher institutions of learning. Many of you will still get your admissions into higher institutions by the Grace of God. Amen.
As you leave us please allow me to add the following part of which had been stated at similar gatherings:
1. That each of you should think more about becoming an employer of labor or becoming self-employed as quickly as possible instead of being a perpetual applicant. To do this search inside for the talent God has endowed yo with. If God says you will succeed through selling fried plantain, then let your fried plantain be the biggest and the best.
2.That you must remember that life will call on you in future to be different. Life can play you JAZZ while the others are experiencing Rhythm & Blues or Funk. Bur remember what A great French man once said. He said when you hear a different set of drums do not be afraid to step up to the beats of those drums no matter how far they may seem.
3.That you have to show the signs of your education at all times. Keep a library of books at home. Master the internet which is now the biggest library in the world. Decide when you will stop conversing in Pidgin English, which was a source of constant correction here. When you write formally or off the net do not disgrace your school or your teachers or yourself. Use past tense, apostrophes and plurals where you must. Note that the use of English by many University graduates today is very uncomplimentary.
Now the time has come for me to send you forth. Many times it is usually a very difficult moment for me but I will try to pull through. All ex ss3 students and or their representatives should please stand up. We are of course aware that only a representative group can be here today thanks to almighty WAEC. Please arrange yourselves in a circular mode within the space in front of you, while holding hands repeat the following after me 3 times.
“ALL ARE NEEDED BY EACH OTHER”
Now look at each other or hold each other in twos or threes and remember in future what I am about to tell you now.
“THE FRIENDSHIP THAT YOU HAVE BONDED TOGETHER IN MASON COLLEGE IS A LIFE LONG FRIENDSHIP WHICH CANNOT BE ERODED OR ERASED BY TIME, MARRIAGE, POSITION IN LIFE, RICHES, POVERTY, SICKNESS OR DEATH, I URGE YOU TODAY TO SEE YOURSELVES AS SIBLINGS OR COMRADES ACTING IN UNITY IN ALL GOOD THINGS ESPECIALLY IN THE NAME AND GLORY OF OUR LOVING GOD IN THE REMEMBRANCE OF REVEREND LESLIE DONALD MASON WHICH NAME WE BEAR” AMEN.
YOU ARE THEREFORE HEREBY SENT FORTH IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY GHOST – AMEN.
THE LORD WILL DEVELOP YOU TO BE GOOD AMBASSADORS OF YOUR SCHOOL, EXCELLENT CHILDREN OF YOUR PARENTS AND FIREBRAND BUT HUMBLE-CITIZENS OF OUR DEAR COUNTRY….AMEN
Let me seize the opportunity to thank the school management past and present who have contributed in developing you. We again thank our parents for their care and for the fees they paid sometimes under difficult conditions. We pray that God will continue to replenish their purses IJN…..Amen
We also congratulate our students most of whom achieved excellent results in their WAEC, NECO exams. We look forward to hearing about your progress in future.
On behalf of the school I thank our Honored Guests, our Parents, Staff Members and others who are present today to witness the “pulling out” ceremony for our students.