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
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
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
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.