By Kola Animashaun

Prince Bolasodun Abdul-Jabar Ajibola, lawyer and jurist, will be 77 early in the week.  His has been a life dedicated to law and scholarship. In the last three weeks, he has given us insight into how he had done it.  We continue Bolasodun’s Golden Nights.

Second, education at the Baptist Boys’ High School was quite tough and rough for any student unless one is on the average or in fact above average in terms of being brilliant.  As regards the subjects at the school, I was above average in all the literary subjects, particularly English, English Literature, History, Geography, Religious Studies and Yoruba.

The only science subject that I was above average in, was Biology with my special love and interest in Geometry (and distaste) for Algebra as well as being on the average in Arithmetic.  Thus my Mathematics was quite on the average.

From the start in Class I at the Baptist Boys’ High School, at the end of each year, you might either be rejected and sent away from school, asked to repeat the same class, or promoted to the next class. Because of my stature impediment coupled with my relative old age, the Principal minuted in my report sheet that unless my performance was satisfactory at the end of the year, I could be ejected. This, the sad news reached me around the Easter of 1950. Some of our schoolmates,  friends and associates at our Baptist Day School and the Baptist Church, got to know about this because I happened to be a Prince. The news spread like a wildfire and I became the object of ridicule and contempt.

From around April 1950 to the end of the year in December, I concentrated once more on my “golden nights” by studying very hard throughout the nights. The result was a tremendous success. My name was among the first names mentioned to be promoted to class 2 in our class IA. The “golden nights” worked and I was simply promoted to class 2.

Reaching class 4, however, was the greatest academic bottleneck. Although 60 of us passed to class 4A and B (of 30 students in each class), only 30 was promoted to class 5. The rest were rejected and I knew that was going to happen. Most unfortunately, my first term result was not all that good. Therefore, from the time of our Easter holiday in 1953, I reverted  to my “golden nights” reading and studying day and night.

The result was outstandingly successful. I was one of the 30 successful students that passed to class 5. I crossed the bar. Again, thanks to my magic of “golden nights” and the help of Almighty God, I passed on to class 5. There was not much hurdle in class 5, but class 6 was another major academic obstacle to surmount with regard to the West African Examinations Council and other examinations, like the one for civil service. Throughout 1955, I had to intensify my studies with my “golden nights,” thus ensuring positive nights’ deliberation and dedication to my studies. The examinations rained on us in December and I succeeded by passing all of them, especially the Cambridge School Certificate whereby I passed all my subjects.

I passed out from Baptist Boys’ High School in 1955 and proceeded straight to Ibadan to seek for employment and eventually settled at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Information at the Printing Press section.

The two years that I served as Printer Grade 3 was academically uneventful because I was so much engrossed in the printing works which earned me high reputation and commendation from my boss, Mr. Kadara, who died in an accident in December 1957. Situation dramatically changed to my detriment at the printing press on the death of my immediate boss who had always treated me with great admiration and showered benefits on me. As a matter of fact, he planned the arrangement of scholarship for me to study printing in the United Kingdom. Because of his death, I planned to move to Lagos which I did in January 1958.

I came to Lagos with a good old friend of mine, Olawale Shittu, who is at the moment permanently resident in London. He was admitted to Emergency Science Training School and both of us were staying at my father’s house at 20, Oko-Baba Street, Ebute-Meta. I was employed as an auxiliary teacher at St. Jude’s School, Ondo Street, Ebute-Meta. In retrospect, let me say that the interview for this teaching job was remarkable and interesting. The late Reverend Asekun, who served as the Chairman of the Interview Committee, I think liked the look of my face and immediately passed me for the job.

Others were denied the employment. One of those interviewed who happened to know me went back to the interview committee,, complained that I am a Muslim and not a Christian and, therefore, ought not to be employed. When the report reached Rev. Asekun, he said he was not prepared to change his decision and maybe in future they would persuade me by converting me to Christianity. That attempt failed and I served as a teacher in that school for virtually a year.

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