By Adedapo Adeniran
I WELCOME you to this August occasion to celebrate the passing into glory of our distinguished and accomplished personality and old boy of Kings College, Lagos. Okotako Enahoro, the father of Tony Enahoro and his younger siblings believed very much in education as a traveling teacher and supervisor of schools in the Owo area in those good old days.
It must have been a great sacrifice for him to send Tony and Edward to King’s College Boarding House paying as much.
Tony, Eddy and I were contemporaries and we got on very well right from the start and that closeness continued till this day. So, I was not surprised when I was honoured with the clarion call to come and deliver a speech on this occasion.
Tony and Eddy were both Hyde Johnson’s House and I was in Mackee Wright’s House, there being only two Houses in the college. All Boarders belonged to Hyde Johnson’s House while all Day boys belonged to Mackee Wright’s House. We Day boys became good friends of the boarders for one thing, that we smuggled mosa and peanuts from outside to the boarders who dared not venture out to buy such contraband.
Tony had an uncanny way of being almost last in the class during the first term, and would come up a little higher during the second term, but third term being the promotional term, Tony would come first. Tony was a bit troublesome, but Cardinal Okojie’s father, who was an uncle of Tony and lived nearby the college always interceded with Jeffers, who himself liked Tony very much – Jeffers being the Housemaster of Hyde Johnson’s House. To me, Tony was antus puer – puer in Latin means boy.
In our time, Day boys were not allowed into the Boarding House. The Day boys had a day room and also an extra room where we studied at night whilst the boarders used their own section in the Boarding House. Tony was quite often in the company of Henry Omenai and Godwill Iyamu, though Iyamu used to taunt them that both of them were Ishans and their kith and kin were palm wine tappers for Iyamu’s people who were Benis or Edo.
I had a terrible experience with Tony which I simply cannot forget, though I have long forgiven him and we have been the best of friends up to his demise. Day boys were assigned a room in the college where they can study at night and far away from the Boarding House.
Tony one night left the Boarding House I believe in the company of Omenai or Iyamu and came to foment trouble for Day boys who were studying, namely Francis Williams and T.A Pelewura. Enahoro created a commotion such that Mr. Jeffers the Hyde Johnson’s Housemaster who lived where the Principal’s office is now came down and as soon as I saw him coming down, I stupidly disappeared into the next room so that I would not be counted with the troublemaker. When Tony was asked who was making trouble, he said that I was the one for the fact that I then came out of my hiding place in the next room.
My innocent self was asked by Jeffers to report in the Staff office the following morning and I was given six strokes of the cane by Jeffers who had no right to cane me as he was not my housemaster. Mr. Jones, the fatherly Welsh man, my housemaster resented it – but it was too late. I received no apology from Tony, but that did not ruin or affect our friendship and camaraderie Tony was editor of the Herald, the magazine of Mackee Wright’s House, as all boarders and dayboys were later drafted into Panes and Harman houses.
Tony and I became members of the same House – Mackee Wright’s House. Tony later became editor of the Herald – Mackee Wright’s House magazine. I later took over from as editor of the Herald.
To fail the Cambridge School Certificate examination after spending some six years at King’s College was a calamity. Tony being a border like every one in the Boarding House was not allowed to study after lights out, that is 10pm At that point, accountability sets in otherwise the Chemistry master J. A Ojo in his characteristic manner say some people came to King’s College and wasted their time jumping or footballing which ever suited him.
To guarantee Tony’s success in the Cambridge School Certificate examination, he contrived an electrical device for studying late into the night and the early hours of the morning in the boarding house dormitory when every border was supposed to have slept.
This was termed ghosting. And it was in aid of his preparation for the Cambridge School Certificate examination. Personally I did not blame him. But discipline was too high and no border was to study after 10 pm. Anthony Enahoro succeeded in ghosting for some time until he was caught red handed late in the night by the Acing Principal, F H Bowen, M.A, Msc (Columbia) who had crept stealthily into the dormitory.
The electrical device was then brought to the principal’s office for us to see. The knowledge of that device by Tony Enahoro was the product of Physics(Electricity) he had learnt in Physics. Being very good in English like his immediate junior brother, Edward, he joined Duse Mohammed Ali Efendi, the Egyptian editor of the Daily Comet, from where he moved to Zik’s West African Pilot and distinguished himself.
Later Tony and I met under the umbrella of the Action Group when I was Action Group lawyer covering Ilorin and Kabba province in the 1950s – a very dangerous terrain. Both of us as the products of King’s College , Lagos gave a good account of ourselves. Tony and I were never far apart. He not only visited me, we took photographs together and I proud to show or give even donate this one which was taken at my residence when Tony visited me. When I was too launch my two books, “The case for peaceful and friendly dissolution of Nigeria” and the Futility of the Land Use Decree 1978″, Tony was the chairman at Ikeja Arms Hotel.
Until his last days we were in contact and when he passed on to glory I knew.
If anybody is interested in my two books they are available. You don’t have to agree with what I wrote but like a true King’s man I stand by what I wrote and Tony approved.
After Tony’s demise I telephoned his immediate junior brother, Edward Omokwale, our contemporary at King’s College and expressed my profound sympathy with him for the pasing away of his elder brother. The following week another classmate of our David L Garrick telephoned me from London to say that Edward himself had passed on to glory. SO I commiserated with Edward’s wife and family on the telephone from Lagos.
Earlier on David Garrick in London had telephoned me and commissioned me to a condolence book, put same at King’s College. But that I should be the first to sign it. By the time I arrived at King’s College I found a condolence book already signed, so I had to append my name and that of Garrick – sin transit gloria mundi – Thus the glory of the world passes.
We at King’s College twisted that to the man who was sick passed to glory on Monday morning. So we all believe that Tony has passed to glory. Garrick’s message shows how we care about one another even in our old age. Thus I had breakfast in the house of The Very Revd Osinulu sometime in June last year and I was by his side on the celebration of his 90th birthday in Methodist Church some 4 or 5 years ago. We were all classmates.
Above all I cannot end my homily without referring to Joseph Addision’s observation in Westminster Abbey as follows: “When I look upon the tombs of the great every emotion of envy dies in me. When I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out. When I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion.
When I see the tombs of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those who will must quickly follow. When I see Kings lying by those who deposed them, When I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contents and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs of some that died yesterday and some six hundred years ago – I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries and make our appearance together.”
Let me conclude by my repeating what Horatio said at the gates of Rome in 360 ab urbe condita “To every man upon the earth, death cometh soon or late. We all pray to leave a memorable legacy behind such that my contemporary and friend has left.”
Antus puer as I used to call him, “requiescat in peace” Latin was one of our strong subjects at King’s College. Once again antus puer, adieu
The above is my valedictory speech upon the demise of a close friend and contemporary at King’s College, Lagos.
*Pa Adedapo A. Adeniran, a lawyer lives in Lagos. He spoke at the inaugural press conference of the Anthony Enahoro Legacy Commission at King’s College, Lagos on Monday.