Ilesa Grammar School Old Students’ Association
History of Ilesa Grammar School Old Students’ Association
The premier grammar school, the school that has produced some of the finest people ruling the roost in different sectors of the economy in Nigeria and beyond, one of the more beautiful public schools around, the oldest secondary school in Ijesaland and second oldest in Osun State, a member of the prestigious AIONIAN brotherhood.. We can go on and on. That is just the story of the great Hem Grammar School, a school reputed to be among the finest of its generation not just in physical infrastructure but also in the quality of its output over the years. The road to greatness of llesa Grammar School has been tough and rough. The success story of the school can simply be attributed to the unrelenting efforts of the founding proprietor of the school (Egbe Atunluse Ile Ijesa), the early Principals and Tutors, the high standard of discipline and sense of responsibility set by the early boys and the doggedness of the later and present generations of students to maintain the set standard and keep the flag of excellence flying. The story of Ijesa Grammar School can be traced to 9th April, 1924 during one of the meetings of Egbe Atunluse when a member of the society, Dr Oguntola Sapara, moved a motion that ’emphasis should now be laid on educational matters concerning Ijesa’. That was the day Egbe Atunluse planted the mustard seed that later grew up to become a gigantic educational tree in Ijesaland. It took almost ten years before the emerging tree became fruitful. Quite a number of steps and decisions were taken by Egbe Atunluse before the school eventually took off in 1934. These included Seeking and obtaining the support of His Royal Majesty Oba Oduyomade Aromolaran I and Owa-in-Council for the establishment of the school, The siting of the school at Mesa (being the biggest town in Ijesaland), Naming the school Mesa Grammar School” (following a suggestion by Mr. J. S. Oginni in 1928 at one of the meetings of Egbe Atunluse Obtaining the gift of 50 acres of land from Chief Ajayi Obe (the then Leemodu of Mesa) for use as the proposed school’s permanent site, Employing the foundation Principal (Rev. E. C. Doherty) and founding Tutor (Mr. E. 0. Lucas), Setting up of the school’s Management Board under the Chairmanship of Capt. J. A. Mackenzie (then District District Officer (DO) for Ife/Ijesa Division in August 1933). On the orders of the governing board, a competitive entrance examination was conducted on the 18th of January 1934 for pupils seeking admission into the new school. Twenty-one boys were, consequent upon the examination, given admission, among them were Emmanuel Asaolu (later Fafowora),
Ezekiel Aofolajuwonlo, John Aoko, Enoch Ayeni, Gabriel Aluko-Oluokun, Habibu Karimu, Samuel Doherty, Adolphous Doherty and Eric Ma b a y oje. Although classes commenced informally on Monday, 29th January ,1934 the formal opening of the school took place a week later, precisely on Monday, 5th February, 1934 at a colourful ceremony presided over by the District Officer for Ife illesa District, Capt. J. A. Mackenzie who was also the Chairman of the school’s Board of Management. Ever since then, successive generations of staff and students of llesa Grammar School have always earmarked 5th February as the Founders’ Day every year.
The Advent of ‘Omoluwabfism’ While welcoming the foundation students to the school on their first day, the principal told them, among other things, that the school motto would be either ‘A ce quid a ce’ (a Greek phrase interpreted as ‘Do what you are doing) or ‘andre zeste’ (another Greek phrase meaning ‘Play the Man). This was later translated to ‘E huwa Omoluwabi’ during the time of Rev. N. Q A. Lahanmi as Principal.
‘Omoluwabism’ connotes that undying spirit of handwork, chivalry and fair play, the determination to excel at everything, and the wish to be a perfect gentleman. It is the legacy bequeathed to every student of Ilesa Grammar School. And it pays good dividends.
Right from the beginning, a tradition of honesty, dedication to duty, self-determination and self-reliance, all summed up in the essence of ‘Omoluwabism’ was nurtured. The boys were taught to excel in whatever they did and to know that the good things of life could only be achieved by courtesy, kindness, good comportment and good manners in general. They were taught to portray the evidence of good breading received from the school to the outside world. Asperity and vugarism were to b e eschewed.
Evidence abound to show that the various generations of boys and girls who have been privileged to be trained in Ilesa Grammar School have, over the years, successfully passed the baton of excellence, dedication to duty, self-reliance and rugged personal confidence in oneself from one to another.
Few schools in Nigeria have been able to sustain their traditions of over sixty years the way Ilesa Grammar School has done. Through modifications occasioned by leadership changes, environmental growth and development, modification of facilities and others, the spirit of ‘Omoluwabism’ stands firm. An old student Mr. E.0 Fatiregun (1951 set) has some words on the significance of the school motto: “The School Board and the principal believed in the potential of education to lay a solid foundation for the growth of the society. They believed in the virtues of temperance, hardwork and disciplined behaviour. What with the motto of the school that got rammed into students as an ideology E Huwa Omoluwabi which literally translates colloquially to behave like a child of Noah or elegantly behave as a man of honour Play the Man. The principal often said the school was not there to make people pass examinations but to educate and bring up disciplined and mature citizens. His favourite songs and homily for boys passing out were always laced with the evils of getting-rich quick mania. The School’s curicula were broad anough to lay the foundation for the development of the whole man.”
Since the inception of the school, the school uniform has undergone changes on more than three occasions. When the school formally took off in 1934, attention was not paid to the type of dresses that the foundation boys wore to school. They were permitted to put on their personal clothes. By 1936, the use of brown khaki shirt over brown khaki pair of shorts had become law This lasted till 1950’s when the brown khaki shirt was replaced by white shirt while the brown khaki pair of shorts was retained until the days of Ijesa Comprehensive High School in the late-1960’s. It now had to change to white shirt patterned with blue stripes over navy-blue pair of shorts for boys and stripped white blouses with blue skirts with or without pinafore for the girls. Incidentally, when the Comprehensive High School reverted to its old name (Mesa Grammar School), status, and glory, the adopted uniform of Ijesa Comprehensive High School days remained. And that has been the school uniform till today. Sometime, in the 1970’s the Higher School Certificate boys were allowed to wear pairs of trousers, but this privilege was short-lived. This is probably connected with the fact that the Tutors had a lot of problems coping with the arrogance of the Sixth Form boys. And one way of cutting the boys to size was to remove this ego-boosting privilege of uniform in and outside the school premises. It was then the vogue and served as the better means of identifying than the brown shirt and pair of shorts of that time.
Today, government’s policy in secondary education which divided the school into three different units Junior School 1, Junior School 2 and Senior School means the patterns of uniform differs but the colours remain. An example is the privilege accorded Senior School students who now wear long trousers like the days of old.
Ilegrams School Anthem Apart from the tenets of ‘Omoluwabiism’ that pushes products of Ilegrams to stand head and shoulders above their peers in whatever area of life they found themselves, one thing that is worthy of mention about the school is its anthem. The song goes thus: Ilegrams! Ilegrams! The Premier Grammar School Pride of Ijesaland We hail Ijesa Improvement Society For the noble role played And the good foundation laid Ilegrams! Ilegrams! Great school you are!
Ilegrams! Ilegrams! Characters you’ve moulded