Ibadan “Grammar” celebrates its Centennial – Tola Adenle

Ibadan GrammarRESIZEDChief Folake, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (a.k.a “Lady San”) conducts the cutting of the Centennial Cake with L-R: Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe, Professor Akin Mabogunje (Justice Titi Mabogunje -in glasses – is visible next to “Lady San”, & others.

The “Old Boys” wear the school colors in the usual uniformed modern aso oke fila.  Professor Awor also has the “old boys” aso oke neck scarf.  It marked the close of celebrations of the school.

The field of educational institutions may be crowded now especially at the secondary school level but time was when secondary schools had the aura that cannot be matched by even private universities these days.

By March 31, 1913 when Ibadan Grammar School was founded by then Rev. Alexander Babatunde Akinyele (later Ibadan’s first Bishop, the Rt. Rev. A.B. Akinyele), there had been the C.M.S. Grammar School (1859); Methodist Boys High School (1878) & MGHS (1879); Baptist Academy – Baptacad (1885); Hope Waddell, Calabar (1895); St. John’s, Bida (1904); Wesley, Elekuro (1905); Abeokuta Grammar School (1908); King’s College (1909); Ijebu-Ode Grammar School and Eko Boys High School (1913).

Ibadan Grammar School would join these elite and often elitist group on March 31, 1913, exactly a hundred years ago today.  Ijebu-Ode had started a couple of months earlier with late Bishop I. Jadesimi, earlier featured in this blog, as one of the pioneer students:


The year 1913 just before the outbreak of the World War I was a bounteous educational harvest for Lagos/Ijebu/Ibadan Provinces of Southwest Nigeria with three new boys’ schools established.  Of these twelve secondary schools, only two were outside Southwestern Nigeria and of the twelve, only Methodist Girls’ High School (MGHS) was female; St. Anne’s, then known as Kudeti Girls School was not yet a secondary school.

David Hinderer had led the CMS expedition to Ibadan in 1851 where Josiah Akinyele had become one of the earliest Christian converts.  Among Josiah’s children were two illustrious sons: Alexander Babatunde (Later Bishop A.B. Akinyele – A.B., born in 1875, and Isaac Babalola (Later Olubadan I.B. Akinyele).  A.B. started his education at St. Peter’s, Aremo circa 1880 before moving to Lagos to finish elementary school.  He attended the C.M.S. Grammar School, Lagos after which “Oyo” – St. Andrew’s College, Oyo – beckoned.  It was the only tertiary institution in Nigeria and all it did was train teachers but its standard was so high as to be comparable to the best university of today.


He would later attend Fourah Bay College where he would get a Bachelors Arts Degree (Dunelm) which, as was the practice then, he had his college education at Fourah Bay which issued [UK] Dunelm University degrees in 1912 but he had obtained Fourah Bay’s Licentiate in Theology in 1904, a course of study that was the equivalent of a university degree back then.

By 1913, through the assistance of the Church Missionary Society, now the Anglican Church, A.B.  established the Ibadan Grammar School – “Grammar” – on March 31, 1913 and also became its founding principal.  Although he had been a Deacon as far back as 1909 and an assistant priest before getting married in 1912, a Canon by 1931, A.B. would have to wait till 1952 before being consecrated Bishop of a new Diocese of Ibadan at the age of 77!

I.B. became the Olubadan, and the first educated Ibadan son to ascend the throne.

From its very humble beginning in a mud storey house in a traditional area of the city of Ibadan to its large spread at Molete, Grammar has succeeded far beyond what its founder could probably have imagined.  It has been blessed with great leadership who were always out for the total development of the child and today’s leadership in government, commerce and industry bears testimony to that statement.  Here are a few old boys of Grammar among great achievers:  Late Uncle Bola Ige, Globacom’s [Dr.] Michael Adenuga, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, Ambassador Sanu, Chief Goodie Ibru, Senator Ken Nnamani, Chief T.A. Akinyele, Architect Fadele, and others too numerous to count.

Towards the total development of the child mentioned above, the founding principal got together with three other great pioneers in education to found AIONIAN Group of Schools, a power house that was aimed at bringing students together for athletic meets.  Most in my generation can recall the great rivalry and fireworks produced at Aionian Meets in the 60s.  Here’s how it all came to be:

“In March 1930, Revd. Akinyele and the principals of three other schools namely; the Late Rev W.R.B Kuye – Abeokuta Grammar School, the Late Canon M.C Adeyemi -Ondo Boys High School and Late Revd.I.O.Ransome-Kuti, Ijebu Ode Grammar School respectively, attended a meeting at St. Andrews College, Oyo, where they agreed to form a brotherhood by conducting joint annual sports competition.

They  formed an acronym for the brotherhood by putting together the initials of the four schools- AIONIAN. From the initial four schools, the AIONIAN brotherhood grew to 12 schools and Ibadan Grammar School has been the Secretariat since it was established in 1930.” 


No wonder, Late “Uncle Bola”, a one-time National President of the Old Boys Association was credited with saying –

” … we have a goodly heritage and must continue to build on the foundation laid by Bishop A. B. Akinyele: ‘a Christian school with an open door policy; an Ibadan School with a cosmopolitan population; a grammar school that is strong not only in the Arts and Sciences, but also in the athletic world; a town school that looks after the needs of pupils from rural areas.”

Following the footsteps of A.B. were:  Rev. E.L. Latunde, (1933 – 1940); Rev. Adesanwo (1940 – 48); Rev. Alayande, perhaps the best-known of Grammar’s principals who headed the school during its greatest growth and progress period (1948 – 1968).

After all the great achievements of the past, standards at Grammar as in most public secondary schools in Nigeria, have started on a steep decline but the old students are pitching in to save their beloved school.  It is the general trend in most Nigerian schools, at least in the Southwest that I am familiar with.

Reference cannot but be made here about the generic nature that Osun secondary schools has started to embark upon.  While I have not seen it with my own eyes, news that ALL SCHOOLS in Osun are now wearing the same school uniform is  bizarre news.  The contributions of money, infrastructure, laboratory equipment, etcetera that have been made by “old boys” and “old girls” to their secondary schools are so immense that any government re-engineering that aims to erase these old associations through the neutralizing of school identity is a policy that needs re-thinking.  Hopefully, other states in the Southwest and, subsequently the country, would not think this such a great idea that they’ll run full-steam into copying what would definitely prove detrimental in governments everywhere in Nigeria to get people interested in contributing to educational development.

Below is from a lecture by Professor A.L. Mabogunje – from the school’s website.  It details the kind of assistance that schools in Nigeria are receiving from their old students and in this case for Grammar on a single occasion, hosting the Aionian Festival of Sports and Academics. Would generic schools be able to attract this kind of support in Osun  schools as reportedly now set up?

“The Contributions of Old Students to School Development

 The Ibadan Grammar School Old Students’ Association has, over several decades, contributed substantially and in diverse ways to the development of Ibadan Grammar School. The most noticeable major physical infrastructural project to have been undertaken in the school in the last 40 years is the multi-million naira Emmanuel Alayande Hall by the old students of Ibadan Grammar School. Other physical infrastructure running into millions of naira that the old students have provided for the school include classrooms, toilets, sporting facilities and water supply. Just recently, the school hosted the 72nd AIONIAN Festival of Sports and Academics Competitions, tagged Ibadan 2011, featuring 12 secondary schools from all the states of the South West on 24-27 March, 2011. Despite repeated entreaties made to the Oyo State Government, no financial grant or any other form of support was received by the school and the old students bore majorly the huge cost of hosting the festival and provided among other forms of support the following:

  • New sports field, complete with football pitch and athletics tracks
  • 12-room modern toilet facility, complete with deep well and overhead storage tank
  • Modern lawn tennis court
  • Handball pitch
  • Sporting equipment
  • Water supply facilities
  • Renovated classrooms.”

It’s cheers to Grammar’s next Hundred and to all old and new boys and girls.  May the souls of A.B., Oga [Alayande] and other principals, teachers, students and all those who labored and have joined the Saints Triumphant continue to rest in peace.

TOLA ADENLE, March 31, 2013.

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5 Comments on “Ibadan “Grammar” celebrates its Centennial – Tola Adenle”

  1. TAO OTUNLA Says:

    Osun school uniforms BIZARRE?…….in all of Ghana,in cruel Brittania,children for shared values,discipline,and to give every child a level dressage start, go to school in “the same uniform”. What may I ask is bizarre about this except unthinking reaction to those values listed above that are severely lacking in today’s Nigeria? Is this an unkind exaggeration of ill feeling towards the government or a poor understanding of the meaning of meaning the word BIZARRE. Mo kun fope o.tao



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Mr. Otunla,

      Thank you for weighing in on Osun’s new move on public schools’ uniforms, an aside in the report on Ibadan Grammar School’s Centennial.

      While we all share the same humanity, a common thread that also sees us sharing many values, different countries chart their own courses. In Nigeria, the “Old Students Associations” have long become INSTITUTIONS at secondary school level just as in the U.S.A, Alumni Associations at university level are institutions. Different as they may be, they both aid their schools and colleges in raising funds to improve infrastructure, create scholarships and provide – in the case of Nigerian schools – items that governments are not willing or able to provide. Millions of U.S. college alumni are proud to belong to their college associations and the mails for solicitations and alumni magazines that include news on research breakthroughs, etcetera, never let you forget that you are a Gator, a Bulldog, a Running/Yelling Rebel, etcetera. It is an IDENTITY that alumni wear proudly.

      In Nigeria, school uniforms are part of the IDENTITY that students and former students have about their schools just as something as pedestrian as vehicle license plates create identity in Nigeria. It is not an UNTHINKING REACTION to any values to be able to recognize students of various schools by the uniforms they wear nor “ill feeling towards the government” as such things always descend in Nigeria: if you are not for us in every way and on every action we take, then you are against us.

      I wonder what the benefits of students switching from the old uniforms to the same outfits throughout a whole state are. I also just wonder if those Old Students Associations who have always been ready to pour in money to complement governments’ meager resources would do if their schools’ identities – of which the school uniform is the public sign – become submerged.

      To Nigerian students for generations, the school uniform has always been almost sacred. Even these days when there are millions of students across the country, it is the reason why some students who have nefarious activities in mind would wear regular clothing to cover their school uniforms. It is also why schools like Ibadan Grammar has YORUBA ASO OKE in its colors woven. During the Centennial as during many celebrations, the men wore FILA and the women had IBORUN made from the cloth. In the U.S.A., any alumni worth his/her diploma has in her home or office flag or other insignia that shows where her collegiate loyalty lies.

      Mr. Otunla, I owe no “ill feeling” towards any government and, happily, can say that I was one of the very few – pardon my saying so – who continuously wrote about the previous Osun Government’s profligacy, writings that exposed me to great dangers as many in the state and within then opposition ACN, would tell. [I lived at Osogbo from March 2009 to June 2011 with the exceptions of oversea travels.] All the same, an aside to a policy I find BIZARRE and mentioned in writing about Ibadan Grammar’s old students’ contributions to the school’s development does not deserve the name calling although I’ve been called worse in a writing career that dates back to the 70s just as I have those who believe I make calls as I see them.

      If we can have this descent into parochialism that one normally expects from the general populace – from you – on an issue (mega schools) I had written in favor of based on what I knew about Ondo State before a reader wrote me about it, then Nigeria may not have much hope. I’ve written tons of essays about President Jonathan just as I wrote tons about retd. General Obasanjo and Alhaji Yar Adua (including their first ladyism-s) but may be in matters pertaining to Osun State for now, I should – in the immortal words of late Uncle Bola Ige – I should just siddon look Governors Oyinlola and Gbenga Daniel once believed – and said so – that I was a hack who was dictated by Asiwaju Tinubu!

      You have my best regards, as always.



      • TAO OTUNLA Says:

        Nothing in the first person subjective range was meant intended or will be useful or helpful for PROGRESSIVE CHANGE. If the argument is for identity,each school,s badge should still be enough and adequate . If it is the economics of localizing material values,we must be in agreement on ADIRE which I assume is the choice for Osun and badges can be made from ASO OKE. This citizen is not into scurrilous or spin attacks more suited to the partisan political skirmishing or personalization of debate being happy enough to let superior argument carry the day . The choice of the word BIZARRE for the Osun decision remains ???? Mo kun fope o.tao


      • M. Adebisi Sowunmi Says:

        Although I didn’t read Tola’s piece on the proposed mono-uniform for Osun State pupils, it is most bizarre that anyone would make such a proposal! Tola has made the case against such a bizarre idea very very well, and most objectively too. Will all schools bear one and the same name as a logical follow-up? I submit that such radical proposals need to be subjected to a referendum, with inputs from alumnae/alumni. Perhaps I missed the reasoning behind the proposal and would appreciate being duly informed.

        Speaking from personal experience, whenever I see St Anne’s School, Ibadan girls in their mauve uniform — the same colour we wore over 50 years ago, though the style has changed, I immediately feel an affinity with them and when possible I go out of my way to greet them and proudly tell them I went to that school too! There is much more to be said in favour of allowing schools retain a very visible manifestation of their identity. And it’s time Nigerians learnt to address issues objectively rather than resort to unwarranted name-calling and insinuations.

        The present governor of Osun State is one of the lights in our dark political terrain, and has introduced several people-oriented and highly commendable policies, but that is no reason why an objectionable proposal by him should not be opposed, in good faith, after all nobody is perfect, neither does anyone know everything!

        I do hope this idea of mono-uniform will be jettisoned quickly.


      • emotan77 Says:

        Dearest Sis.,

        I was called a hack writer by politicians who ruined southwestern Nigeria but am surprised anyone in the SW or elsewhere would describe me as an “unthinking reactionary” after all the harassment of the PDP era that saw me unable to go out at will at Osogbo where I actually lived for over two years in ’09 thru ’11 as most people who know me were aware. Osun’s potentate was either taking out a double spread ad on me in The Tribune or his Ogun counterpart was having fliers distributed up to far North about me.

        That is the tragedy of Nigeria as a whole when rulers see themselves as above all of us and their supporters, followers, etcetera are ready to shut anyone holding contrary opinions to any ideas that the leader must have even if they all belong to the same camp. That’s not what we expected. That’s not what we voted for.

        Many thanks, and fond regards,


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