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KING'S COLLEGE, 1920—1924

King's College stood out for years, and still stands out, as the premier secondary school in West Africa. When it was established in 1909 among the foundation scholars were I. L. Oluwole, later Dr. Oluwole the first Nigerian Medical Officer of Health; J. C. Vaughan later a renowned medical practitioner and Founder of the Nigerian Youth Movement, Frank Macaulay, who became a business man; 0. Omololu, later a practising doctor. And among the early starters were T. A. Doherty, later a practising lawyer and
then a business man, a banker and a chief; D. Ade Onojobi who later became a Master at King's; Ernest Ikoli, who was also a Master at King's for a short period and later became a renowned journalist; J. A. Ojo, a great footballer, also took to the teaching profession and became a Master; V. A. Kayode, one of the brilliant lawyers Nigeria has known, and who died prematuredly. It is enough to mention these few names who lit the torch at King's and passed it on.

In due course, students came from neighbouring countries. One may mention Olympic from Lome who later became the First President of Togo. Also Pinto who became a French lawyer and later a Judge of the International Court of Justice. Later still, from Ghana (then the Gold Coast) came Quashie, Cuthbert Bruce, Quartey Asante, Torto, Nuro and others. One of the earliest Principals of King's College was Mr. Mckee-Wright who took care of the early teething troubles of the College and who helped to build a reputation for the School. He was reputed to be a great scholar and a wise man. I believe he died at sea on his way home during the first World War when his ship was attacked by the enemy. Mr. Magai succeeded him. I did not know either of them.

Before Mr. Mckee-Wright, I am not sure but I had been told that Mr. Hyde-Johnson was a principal at King's College. He was, later, however the Director of Education, and Yaba College was one of his achievements.Major H. A. Harman had just arrived at King's as the principal when I went to the school in 1920. He was a first rate disciplinarian and a man of action. He raised the standard of the school which at that time was going down. On the retirement or transfer of Major Harman, Mr. D. L. Kerr became the acting principal. His subjects in school were English and History. He acted after Major Harman's departure for a long period but never succeeded him as principal. The disappointment led to his retirement, and I travelled on the same boat with him in June 1927 when he left on his retirement.

When Major Harman was about to retire, I was the Senior Prefect of the school. I was able to get all the students to subscribe towards the purchase of a painting of him by the celebrated artist, Mr. Aina Onabolu (also an art master at King's at the time). He did not take the full value from us. The oil painting protrait was presented to Major Harman. After thanking us for this noble effort, he wisely left it for the school. And there it hangs in the school hall till today.

I must mention the names of two other expatriate Masters in my time. Mr. J. N. Panes the Latin Master: He was a prodigious classical scholar from Oxford. He was a tall and dignified person and extremely courteous. Mr. Crutchley, the Science Master was the opposite of Mr. Panes. He was a very quiet and self-effacing man, more concerned with experiments in the laboratory than playful students around him in the laboratory. He was very devoted to the labs, and he was the type who would spend the last days of his life on researches in the laboratory.

Of the Africans who taught at King's College, during the one and half a decade of its existence, four of them were old boys of the College. Ernest Ikoli was the first. He was before my time. He was the first student who came from Eastern Nigeria. I had earlier winy man ana carefree. He told a story about himself. He said a European he met asked him what he does for his living. He promptly replied:

"I live on my wits." He added that the man was to taken aback and he (Ikoli) left him saying "Ask about me from my friends." The second and third old boys who became Masters at King's were Messrs. D. Ade. Onojobi and J. A. Ojo. They were Masters at King's for so long and I am certain other old boys will have a lot to say about them.

The fourth old boy who taught at King's College during the period was Chief H. 0. Davies who tried his hands at teaching for a period of twelve to fifteen months after he passed his London Matriculation in the School. He packed up teaching and joined the Civil Service on passing the Senior Service Examination.The Africanisation of the staff at King's College was not limited to Nigerians only. During its early existence, Mr. C. J. Smart, a Sierra Leone graduate was a Master for some years. He was Latin Master and in charge of administration I met him at King's. A good few of students from other parts of Nigeria were his wards. This included the later Akenzua, the Oba of Benin, then known at King's as Godfrey Okoro, Mr. C. J. Smart was a dandy and affable man. He retired of his own volition an early retirement after a nasty experience of a long-drawn out case of financial mismanagement. He retired to live at Benin City.

There was also Revd. Nicol, a kindly and gentle middle aged man at King's College in my time. The net for Masters at King's went very far. Two who originated from the West Indies in the Nigeria Education Department at the time became Masters at King's. They were affectionately called Pa Veitch and Pa Liverpool respectively. Pa Veitch was an energetic, colourful and resourceful Jamaican whose method of teaching was how to answer examination papers or questions. He would tell the class how to answer question paoers so that the examiner may fall in love with us:-

"If you answer the question in this way, the examiner will fall in love with you." It became a joke that he only had to start about what and what to do or say, the class will finish the sentence:- "and the examiner will fall in love with."

Pa Liverpool was of a gentler disposition. He did not stay for long at King's before being transferred to the Delta. I learnt, however, that that was not his first session at King's. I must not leave out a young Nigerian (young at the time) from the Mid-West who came to teach at King's College about 1923. His name is Mr. Nkune. He was there when I left but later left for United Kingdom to study Law. I have not seen him in his wig and gown ! He must be an old man now. The top class at King's College in 1920 when I went there as a very junior school boy was Form IV. Later a Form V was created. Form IV was manned by a galaxy of formidable array of able students like S.L.A. Manuwa, later to become Dr. Manuwa, first Nigerian Director of Medical Services; D. Peters (later Dr. Peters); E.O. Allen-Taylor,
later a high grade civil servant; and a high Chief at Abeokuta; one Quashie, from Ghana; J. Tresize later a General Manager of a big company, Messrs Gottschalk & Co., J. Randle, then the Senior Prefect and E. Ekpeyong, Mr. Tresize I know is still alive.

The following year, students in Form IV were Nestor-Samuel, D. A. Akerele, who died prematuredly, C. A. Howells, I. Williams commonly known as I. MooMoo, his bro- ther A. Williams, E. Thomas, nicknamed Eliri Thomas later a Lawyer practised in the North and since dead. Trailing behind these and later to come up to Form IV were A. W. Howells, later to becoioe Bishop Howells, L. A. Oke who later became a high Civil Servant, Feko, who died prematuredly, H. 0. Davies later a teacher at King's; then a civil servant, and later still a lawyer and Queen's Counsel; Gutbert Nanka-Bruce, from Ghana lalei doctor of medicine; R. 0. Staveley later became an engineer. He was employed in the Ministry of Works (then Public Works Department); and was the first Nigerian to builc bridge. There was also B. A. Manuwa who became a high civil servant; Charles Majek dunmi who later became a doctor. Stephen Thomas later to become a Lawyer; was elavat
to the Bench in due course. Also N.O.A. Morgan who was later called to the Bar; becai a Chief Registrar and died on the eve of his being elevated to the Bench.
 



 

 

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