“Unless we know what we are, we shall certainly be unable to know where and how to go further”- Nwafor Orizu (1944).
Worldwide, Ekiti people are known for their intense love for learning and knowledge acquisition. The ‘one-household, one-professor’ that Ekiti is known for and many ‘firsts’ recorded by the older generation has led to the conclusion that the only industry that Ekiti has is education. The State has recorded many firsts in the annals of knowledge production in Africa.
It is an understatement to say that the history of educational development in Africa will not be complete without mentioning the giant contributions of Ekiti prodigies. Some of the trailblazers and erudite scholars from Ekiti that illuminated the academic firmament of Africa include: Dr. Omojola Agbebi – the first PhD holder in Nigeria; Professor V.A Williams – the first Professor of Electrical Engineering in West Africa; Professor Daniel Funmilayo Ojo, aka, Ojo Ugbole – the first Professor of Geo-physics in West Africa; Professor Adegoke Olubummo – the first Professor of Mathematics in Nigeria; Professor Olu Longe – the first Professor of Computer Science in Nigeria; Professor Ade Ajayi – a foremost Professor of history and the pioneer of Ibadan School of African study; Professor Benjamin Osuntokun – a renowned Neurosurgeon; Professor Adelola Adeloye, another renowned Neurosurgeon from Ikole Ekiti; Professor Niyi Osundare – the 2014 Nigerian National Merit Award (MNNA) holder and Aare Afe Babalola- Founder, Afe Babalola University, among numerous academic wizards that announced the state to the world as the ‘FOUNTAIN OF KNOWLEDGE”.
The history of Ekiti will not be complete without these eminent scholars and hundreds of brilliant minds that turned the mountainous state into an intellectual capital pool of the world. Indeed, the history of any place is the biographies of all men who lived in the place. If only we can study these erudite scholars with unusual academic prowess, I strongly believe that we can learn great virtues from their lives. However, it is quiet unfortunate that we have no sense of history.
According to Ade Ajayi, an emeritus professor of History, “We have so little consciousness of a time perspective. We act and react as if there is only today, no yesterday, no tomorrow. We seem to care a little about the past, we have no enduring heroes and we respect no precedents. Not surprisingly, we hardly ever consider what kind of a future we are building for our children and our children’s children. We lack statesmen with any sense of history. Politics of the moment dominates our life, leaving no room for evaluating achievement or appreciating merit. The nation suffers with no sense of history. Its values remain superficial and ephemeral unless imbued with a deep sense of continuity and a perception of success and achievement that transcends acquisition of temporary power or transient wealth. Such a nation cannot achieve a sense of purpose or direction or stability, and without them the future is bleak.”
One of the fundamental reasons why the current crops of Ekiti students are finding it difficult to replicate the success stories of the golden era is lack of historical materials about our founding fathers that can stimulate them into greatness. They are not aware of how the academic giants in the state became giants of history. They are not only detached from the culture of excellence that defines us as a unique people; they are ignorant of the techniques employed by the older generation in reaching the pinnacle of their careers. Educational researchers have shown that one of the reasons why Africa has not truly developed is the type of education that we received from the colonial masters. From infant, the brain of African child is wired around external world; through history, he understands past events and historical artefacts of the world except his own!
With the exclusion of history from secondary school curriculum, it is plausible to conclude that our educational system can only develop the brains of the young ones but not their minds. The end product from such a system is very clear: the production of students who can read but who cannot think!
As Sir Sidney Philipson reminds us; “Every situation has its roots in the past and the past survives in the present; the present is indeed the past undergoing modification.” Common sense also tells us that we are product of many historical circumstances and if the lessons from those historical experiences are properly communicated to the young ones, it will not be difficult to maintain our identity as the fountain of knowledge.
The role of stakeholders in the education sector is not just to be talking or celebrating the glorious past but to learn and convert its blessings to opportunity for the young ones. Frantz Fanon said, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it.” if we fail to learn from our past, then, we have successfully betrayed our responsibility.
However, we can dodge our responsibility but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.
Therefore, if we are going to return Ekiti to her glorious days on a sustainable basis, our educational system must go beyond the teaching of Physics, Chemistry and other basic subjects. People don’t learn how to be great in those classes; virtues and values of greatness are learned through biographies of great heroes and study of past events.
Unfortunately, as important as the study of history is to the overall development of Nigeria in general, and Ekiti State in particular, the government has not made any meaningful effort aim at tapping into the rich academic culture of excellence that helped the academic wizards of Ekiti extraction to reach the pinnacle of their careers despite the unfavourable academic conditions they encountered.
Even though, teaching and learning of history have been identified as one of the most dependable ways of passing norms and values of a society from one generation to another unfortunately, History is not being thought in our secondary schools anymore. However, hope is not completely lost in Ekiti as two non-governmental organisations: EduLink Concepts and Olusegun Fadare platform are creating platforms for students of the fountain of knowledge to familiarise themselves with the history and virtues that define Ekiti people. One of such platforms is their annual Inter-School Quiz Competition on the History of Ekiti among public secondary schools in Ekiti State.
While answering questions on the motives behind the introduction of the competition, Mr. Aduralere Oluwagbohunmi, the President of EduLink Concepts said; “Ekiti as a nation state is unique in the sense that we are the pace setter. However, an average young man in Ekiti is ignorant of the history of Ekiti and to be ignorant of political and cultural history of a people is also to be ignorant of the contributions of that people to all arrears of intellectual activities. The inter-school competition focused on the biographies of trailblazers and academic giants of Ekiti extraction and the factors that make them excel. We cannot afford to lose our heritage; hence the need for this special and educative competition tagged “Inter-school quiz competition on the history of Ekiti.’
“The time is ripe for the introduction of History of Ekiti into the secondary school curriculum. If Ekiti would ever restore her lost glory in the education sector, we must go back and pick some values that we have left behind. Therefore, to go forward, we must catch the spirit of the great pioneers of the past. And to achieve this, we need to introduce the study of History of Ekiti into the junior secondary school curriculum”, he said.
He also noted that the kind of academic revival that Ekiti state requires at the moment cannot be handled by the government alone. And if we fail to act, in four decades from now, our cemeteries will be richer in values, virtues and intellects than our secondary schools and universities.
It is against this backdrop that Olusegun Fadare Platform (OFP) in conjunction with EduLink Concepts organised the maiden edition of the competition among 15 public secondary schools in Ido/ Osi Local government area of Ekiti State last year. The competition took place at Ojo Ugbole High School, Igbole Ekiti in 2017. Each school presented five students and the overall winner of the quiz competition went home with a sum of #30,000 while the runner up and third position went home with the sum of #20,000 and #10,000 respectively.
The 2018 edition of the inter school quiz competition on the history of Ekiti according to the organizers will be conducted among all public secondary schools in Ado Ekiti Local Government area on October 5th at the prestigious Christ’s Girls School, Ado Ekiti. The winner of this year’s edition will go home with the sum of #50,000 while second and third positions will go home with the sum of #30,000 and #20, 000 respectively.
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