It was an honor to be nominated to give the Welcome speech at the just concluded 20th year reunion of my set – Class of ’98, Government College Agege (GCA), Lagos State Nigeria.
Here is my speech………….
20th YEAR REUNION & COMMISSIONING OF SICKBAY
It is with great humility that I accept the singular honor and privilege so graciously bestowed on me to give the welcome speech at our 20th reunion and Commissioning of the sickbay.
Our sincere gratitude goes to The TGPS, Tutor General & Permanent Secretary of Education District 1 in person of Dr (Mrs) Yinka Ayandele who coincidentally was the first Head Girl of Government College Agege (GCA). She is unavoidably absent today and is represented by our very own Mr Adeshina. In absential, we want to say thank you for granting us the permission to renovate the sick bay.
We would like to use this medium to commend the incumbent Principal, Mrs Nwafor. Let me tell you what you don’t know about her. Mrs Nwafor is an alumna of Government College Agege, she was one of the first set of students admitted in 1979. Thank you so much ma’am for opening the doors of your heart and office to us. We appreciate your remarkable and inspiring leadership skills in ensuring that Government Senior College Agege remain an enviable school amidst its peers.
To the representatives of GCA Global Alumnae, we say, thank you for honouring our invitation, thank you for the support, thank you for providing a platform that will showcase the Alumni of GCA to the entire world.
To our Teachers here present- Thank you for honouring our invitation.
Mrs Ekanem (Music Teacher) who made Music interesting and appealing. We cannot forget the usual song, ‘Tone Tone semitone, tone tone semi tone’. It was fun.
Mrs Aimoso, thank you for making Economics seem so effortless, the training of those years are still relevant till today. Thank you.
Mr Adeshina, our Physical Education Teacher, thank you for the days of learning and discipline. Thank you for not allowing us stay back during sports hour, even though we always came up with different reasons not to go on the field. Some of us even went as far as hiding under the tables but you always have a way of fishing us out from our hiding places and making us do the needful.
Mr Adewusi, our Mathematics Teacher, thank you for spurring our interests in Mathematics while you chip in words of encouragement rooted in the divinity.
Mr Ojo, the pioneering Chairman of Press Club and Hausa Teacher who opened our eyes to the importance of learning other Nigerian language.
Mr Ojo, ‘Ina fata kana lafiya? Na go de sossai.
To all our invited guests, teachers, students, members of the press and my fellow classmates. Thanks for coming.
26 years ago we walked into the compound of our great school, ecstatic with the realization that we are no more daddy’s little girls, we are now big girls who just gained admission into one of the best and most competitive secondary schools within Agege and its environs.
We came in not knowing what was in stock for us but believing we will have a good time. And we sure did.
Here we built confidence, eloquence, discipline, tenacity and friendships.
Let me crave your indulgence to take us down the memory lane while we recall the days of our little beginnings.
We remember the days of queuing up to buy hot and spicy food at ‘Aunty Iyabo’ food joint. We didn’t mind the early morning sweat due to heat.
Our days at GCA did not go uneventful, I’m sorry time will not permit us to talk more on the days, the militia invaded the school and disrupted the learning for the day. It was a tough day but we pulled through.
We remember when our SSS3 uniform was changed and we had 3 square pockets which we referred to as ‘Aro meta’. A Yoruba word that means -3 main stones.
I can say boldly that our GCA ’98 set was very fortunate because we learned under the tutelage of two great principals with different approach to training. I can say, categorically that we had a balanced view of education.
Our first principal was Mrs Vincent, an endearing woman who saw us as her grandchildren and so pampered us to a fault. She protected us and wouldn’t allow any teacher to punish us for any reason.
She will sometimes tell the teachers to leave us alone because we are little children who don’t know anything. Trust students they will always feign innocence and ignorance just to get away with anything.
We grew so accustomed to her and we unknowingly began to take her for granted.
Oh! How we missed her motherly care when she was transferred. Little did we know that we were in for a complete change.
Unforgettable was the day we were introduced to a new Principal- Mrs Ojifinni.
Alhaja as we fondly call her had been a Principal in an all-boys school, so she came with the mindset of instilling discipline in us.
Over 90% of the school flunked the first exams that we did after her resumption. There was mass failure across every class because we were introduced to an era we weren’t prepared for. So many girls were asked to repeat while some were advised to withdraw. Even those that felt like geniuses all had to buckle up because we now have a new sheriff in town’.
We dare not come to school looking scruffy, we dare not walk sluggishly around the school compound, we dare not act timid when being spoken to. We were all kept on our toes!
Her popular slogan then was ‘She Mamas…Mothers in Uniform’.
Don’t get it wrong, the words were not derogatory they were futuristic.
She saw greatness and maturity in us when we only see ourselves as girls that should be pampered. She saw future mothers that will birth new generations and so should be prepared to step into this high calling of co-creation that nature has gracefully bestowed upon us.
The Principal together with the teachers all took deliberate steps to ensure that we were tutored, trained and prepared to take on our world. We were moulded into young ladies with great finesse and class. We won several interschool debates and competitions with so much prestige and confidence. We became the envy of schools around us. We were unstoppable!
We were drilled, stretched, pruned, disciplined, we were challenged but we kept our dreams alive and 20 years after, we are here. Stronger! Wiser!
We are bold to say that the discipline of those years still stayed with us. No wonder we are excelling at our different career path, shattering glass ceilings, making business decisions, leading great minds and making impact in our generation.
We have professionals, entrepreneurs, CEOs, Business Owners across different industries in private and public establishments within and across different countries, UK, Spain, USA, Ghana, Germany, Australia, to mention a few.
GCA ’98 set is blessed with great women who are not lazy and who are not shy to take their world by storm, women who refused to be constrained by gender inequality, women who know their worth and so are walking in that realization.
We are proud to be part of this great school and profoundly grateful to be part of the ‘98 set as we make history today. We have gained so much more than just an education from our school; hence we are here today to give back to the school that has done so much for us.
Our 20th year reunion is not just going to be for merry making or getting acquainted with old faces, we are marking this day by commissioning the sick bay which we GCA ’98 set in-country and in diaspora have put funds and efforts together to renovate and upgrade.
Needless to say, that our main focus is more than just giving back to our alma mater, we want to help foster the girl-child education initiative as well as help the next generation gain access and opportunity to quality education in a conducive environment.
At this juncture, I want to appreciate everyone who made this 20th reunion and commissioning of the sickbay a reality. Nahimat Adekoga we celebrate you today for your tenacity in making contacts with every member of the ’98 set together and ensuring we work together to achieve this common goal. We say ‘Thank you’ to every member of the reunion planning committee and everyone who shared their time, money, effort and talents in making this gathering a possibility. We say, thank you.
I leave you with this quote from – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.”
Long Live GCA ’98 set
Long Live GCA Global Alumnae
Long Live Government College Agege
Long Live Education District 1
Long Live Lagos State
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A big thank you to all the members of the Planning Committee;
L-R: (Front row) Naimat Davies Adekoga, Ojuolape Kareem, Mojisola Taiwo,
L-R: Back row: Gbemisola Akinola Ejiwunmi, Phebean Amusan, Kuburat Owoeye.
The reunion held on the 28th of April 2018
Click here for the link to the press coverage