THE weather this late afternoon was temperate and friendly. The sun which had earlier made its scorching appearance had disappeared sooner than expected, yielding position to a rather cool and clement late noon.
The little boy traveller, two months short of 12 years, was all set for the journey to a destination, which, in the next five years, will prepare him for the challenges of the future and shape his world outlook for ever.
Friday September 5, 1975, yours sincerely arrived Omupo Grammar School, Omupo after a less than 30 minutes journey from his homestead, Okeya-Ipo.
The serenity of the vast compound (the vastness in the estimation of the little boy) and the orderliness that welcomed one underscored the scholarly activities in what promised to be a second home for the new entrant in the next five years.
Welcome to Omupo Grammar School of the 1970s and 1980s under the firm but fatherly grip of the then Rev. Samuel Oyeniyi Abolarinwa, the man all students affectionately and reverently addressed as Baba; the old man whose life and time we are celebrating today; the old teacher, educator and educationist who impacted on generations of young Kwarans, nay Nigerians, who today occupy positions of authority in several spheres of life. It was this veteran education icon and role model that transited to the great beyond on February 24, 2012. Arch Deacon S. O. Abolarinwa answered the Lord’s call at 88.
The reverence with which Baba is held by teachers and students could not be lost on the new comer, even from day one. His magisterial arrival into the morning open assembly in front of the staff room elicited pin drop silence and readjustment of standing positions from both the teachers and students alike. His speeches, mostly extemporary, were delivered in guttural, deep voice of a presiding Justice, with each word carefully chosen and deliberately delivered to make maximum impact.
From the first Monday, September 8, 1975 when he welcomed the new students to the school and urged us to appreciate why we were in the school and spoke on why we needed to adhere to all school’s rules and regulations and all through the five years of one’s academic sojourn at Omupo Grammar School, it was obvious that Baba was more than just a school
Principal. He was a mentor, spiritual guardian, enforcer of rules, a strict but compassionate administrator, an educationist, a dyed in the wool teacher and, above all, a true father of all.
Omupo Grammar School under Baba was an institution under the control of an administrator who knew what learning and knowledge acquisition was all about; it was an institution in the hands of a principal who was well schooled in the psychology and thought processes of adolescent boys and girls.
Baba’s presence elicited awe and respect, if not fear. By the time our set came in 1975, he had built a college that had earned a reputation state-wide for discipline and scholarly accomplishments.
In spite of the slim resources at the disposal of the school as could be deciphered from the few available teachers and scanty facilities, Baba proved a first class administrator through remarkable mobilisation of the lean resources available to achieve incredible results.
He mobilised the teachers and, through leadership by example, encouraged them to work hard and long. He ensured that the available facilities were well maintained and never tolerated indolence on the part of staff (teaching and non-teaching).
Baba was a teacher and an educationist par excellence. A graduate of Geagraphy, you could be making a mistake of your life if you came to Baba’s class prepared for only Geography for our Baba believed in round education. A typical Geography class could result in resolving a knotty mathematical equation or tackling the issue of a badly spoken English sentence by a student. During such rare lesson period when administrative works allowed Baba to teach, he wielded the cane like a reliable companion. Baba’s absence at such Geography class made us students happy. He believed students deserve comprehensive learning and saw every opportunity as an avenue to deepen their knowledge.
In more sense than one, Baba was a moral instructor who saw the school assembly as an extension of the pulpit. The daily assembly is not completed without a homily which we often rounded up with a hymn from our Songs of Praise.
But in spite of his being an Anglican Reverend, his secular stance to religion matters need to be acknowledged. Muslims had their mosque, the Friday Jumat was compulsory for all Muslims and special arrangements were made for us during Ramadan to enable us participate in the Ramadan fasting
The Principal’s administrative style can be unconventional. Not on few occasions had Baba been known to have come all the way from his residence in town, in the dark, after the 10 pm light-out to have firsthand information on how students were complying with the mandatory bed time rule. In the course of such lone trekking in the dark, he had been known to have personally caught deviant students who were sneaking to town at odd hours without the mandatory exit permission from the school authority. Of course, such students so caught knew they were in bigger trouble than they ever bargained for
.Baba was not just a principal to those of us who were privileged to have passed through his tutelage. He was our everything. Baba was our mentor, our teacher, our moral instructor, our spiritual counsellor and, above all, our father. Every alumnus of Omupo Grammar School held him in deep respect. None of us wanted to be seen where Baba would not be proud of him. In physical and non physical form, we will forever revere and cherish his memory.
Good Night, Baba Abolarinwa: A true father and A great mentor.
Mr. ADEMOLA ADEDOYIN, PR practitioneer was at Omupo Grammar School between 1975 and 1980/