I tend to think that life makes more sense in retrospect.
That same day I arrived in FGC Idoani to resume, was also the day another friend of mine, Deji Omole, was brought by his parents to resume too. We remained friends, partners and ‘cabal members’ all through the six years of school. And we’ve been friends ever since. That’s 19 years altogether now. How time accumulates over time.
In front of the admin block, separated by a tarred road running across, was the relatively wide expanse of land called ‘Assembly Ground’. A lot of drama took place there.
To put things in context, we always had energetic, over-zealous and harsh (‘wicked’) prefects who ruled by fear. Terror!
After breakfast in the dining hall, we wouldn’t be allowed to return to the hostel. Straight to the assembly grounds. We were driven like cattle. Pouring into the streets of the school in flocks and herds, being coerced towards the assembly ground.
Our stainless steel plates and cutlery, still stained with food, would be thrown into our school bags. Some would throw them into the bush and mark the spot so as to pick them up again later in the day. Some would still manage to rinse their plates and cutleries with water, before dropping them in the school bag. Most ridiculously, some of us were also fond of keeping the rinsed plates inside our tucked-in shirts and our cutleries in our pockets. There were also others who would rather ‘stab’ (be absent from) breakfast and go to the assembly straight to avoid the messy rush.
I am not sure exactly when the assembly starts, but maybe around 8am.
I don’t remember the particular order of events at the assembly..but I’ll still narrate them.
We would sing the National Anthem and also our school anthem, to the sound of the characteristic beat from the drums.
My favorite part of the danceable school anthem (tune) was…
” We greet thee, dear Principal
We hail thee all our staff
And we will always keep in mind
Thirteen years after leaving Idoani…it is still my favorite part…and that’s why it’s the only part I readily remember without checking the school magazine or consulting any fellow alumnus.
On (maybe) the first weekends of the month, a high-powered delegation of school authority comprising the senior boarding house master, house masters and others would go round the hostels on inspection. That’s like the most solemn, sober, responsible fifteen minutes of the month in the boys’ hostels. A time when we were all good boys, as properly dressed as possible in accordance to prospectus standards. We would all stand by our bunks, with the bedsheets neatly spread on the beds, and everywhere swept clean. The kind of incredible teamwork and cooperative dedication that goes into making the hostels as clean and presentable as possible was just inspiring to me till now. Some other time, I’ll give full gist on that.
Back to the Assembly.
So the Monday Assembly that follows that Inspection weekend is the place where we hear the reports of the Inspectors in form of which house came first, second or last. Interesting times. I don’t trust my memory on which house usually aced the race. Maybe Bola Olaniyan (Yellow), Owena (Blue), Niger (Red) or Alani (Green).
I think there was also a ‘Best Five’ list that usually came up from the midterm tests we wrote. Moments of bated breath among students. Some guys consistently made that hallowed list.
Now, there were also negatively interesting events.
One particular one I remember was some guys (our seniors then) who had stolen a teacher’s goat from the staff quarters. They were caught and made to sleep in ‘prison’. Yes…we had a prison. A tiny cell.
Assembly morning came and they were made to stand in front of the students, holding the goat they stole by the legs. The goat apparently didn’t realise that it was on assembly ground. It kept shouting. Embarrassing.
There were also times when students who had flouted one rule or the other were called out for the flogging. This is when you see drama…various styles of dealing with strokes of the cane.
Some would dance in horror, others would stand firm and receive the strokes with amazing unresponsiveness like Gladiators, and afterwards shrug it off. That would make the ‘flogger’ crazy and the students hail the ‘flogged’ in admiration.
It was also on the assembly ground that prefects were announced, plus other announcements.
Too many assembly ground experiences to recount.