Up! Up!! Ibadan

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Dupe Bobadoye shares a hilarious story about a moment in the past where as underdogs they changed the narrative.

When I say, “UP UP IBADAN”, what will you say?

Call: Up up Ibadan

Response: Up up Ibadan

Call: We shall not falter, Ibadan

Response: We shall not falter, Ibadan!

This was the call and response to charge members of Ibadan house.

Getting into high school was one of the most exciting period of my childhood. It was a period of growth, development, toughening, building, laughter, friendship and struggles. One of such moments was my Ibadan house moments.

Looking at the banters and jokes that Arsenal football club has been receiving in recent times, Ibadan house always comes to mind. I believe the only thing Arsenal has failed to achieve as a football club is winning the UEFA Champions League but not my Ibadan house.

Mayflower school was known for a lot of things, among which were high level discipline, self-reliance and democracy. As new students, we were allocated to clubs and societies, classrooms, dormitories and ‘houses’. The day we got our house allocation was one day I can never forget.

We were all assembled at the assembly ground and asked to choose from numbers one to six. After this, all those with number one were asked to step aside, then number two to another side, then three, four, up to six. We had six final year students stand in front of all the different groups. The teacher in charge then asked the respective seniors to pick a ballot paper. On each ballot paper was the name of our soon to be houses. Whatever was picked by your senior, automatically became your house. As our senior stepped forward to pick his ballot, he walked towards us and smiled as he opened it.

“You are all in Ibadan house,” he said.

There were six houses namely: Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Enugu, Ikenne and Ibadan. These were represented by the colors; purple, pink, red, blue, green and yellow for each house respectively.

 As our senior announced that we were in Ibadan house, it meant we were in the yellow house.

Ibadan was the most popular house for the wrong reasons and had a mouthed house master called Mr. Ogidan. We learnt from history, that the house had a big chair, with which it sat comfortably in the sixth position. Our seniors and those before them, met it that way and continued the woeful tradition. So one could say for ten straight years, the house had hopelessly and effortlessly ‘enjoyed’ its big chair located on the ground floor.

Every year there was an inter-house sports competition, everyone already knew the fate of Ibadan house. Unknown to us, there were students lurking around the assembly ground waiting to see the new students who would have the misfortune of being in Ibadan house and as soon as the senior announced “Ibadan House’, the school went agog with laughter.

The house master, Mr. Ogidan simply came forward and blew his whistle. Everyone went silent.

When he blew his whistle with, “Up up Ibadan”, some responded with;

“Up up Ibadan” while many responded with “Down down Ibadan”.

He looked at us and said, “Don’t mind them, they are foolish boys and girls”, and then he welcomed us into his house.

Mr. Ogidan was a Senior Agricultural Science teacher, tall, dark and heavily bearded man with a very deep voice. He was also a disciplinarian to the core. He was greatly feared by the students but ironically, he had a soft spot for his Ibadan house.

On getting to our hostels, the seniors asked about the houses we had been allocated to and when I mentioned Ibadan house, they looked at me and said, “That’s the worst house in this school. You better come to Lagos or Abuja.” Unlike Ibadan house, Lagos and Abuja houses had the best athletes, they had swag, they were many and always rotated the first and second positions between themselves. Enugu, Kaduna and Ikenne houses usually shared the third, fourth and fifth positions but Ibadan had no one to share the sixth position with.

Months later, after a lot of preparations, came the annual inter-house sports competition. During the heat, was the 1500metres race. I was a new student in my first year. And totally inexperienced in that particular race. The six houses were required to send in four representatives each for the race. Ibadan house didn’t have enough manpower for the race and while Mr. Ogidan was looking for who to send as the fourth person, I raised my hand and said;

“I can run”

“Are you sure?” He asked.

“I will try”, I replied.

He then sent me to the centre of the field as the fourth representative of our house, after all, the house was a chronic case of “he that is down need fear no fall”. “It’s a long distance race and we have to run round the field five times”, a senior from my house hinted. “Just jog for the first four laps and run very fast when the whistle is blown for the final lap,” she continued.

“Fweeet! Fweeet!” Sounded the umpire’s whistle. We were arranged on our tracks and “on your marks, set, fweeet!” went the umpire.

I jogged for the first few laps as advised by the senior, as I watched many other athletes that had gone far ahead. I could hear some comments from some spectators.

“Ibadan is last again,” one said. “Who asked them to put a JS1 student there?” Another said.

As the race progressed, my house captain gave me a spoonful of glucose and we continued. “Fweeeeeeeeeet”, went the whistle for the last lap, then began the race for the survival of the fittest. We ran like our lives depended on it and I crossed the finish line in the fifth position. (I know you were expecting me to say first position).

Jubilation began as my house mates cheered, not because we came first, but Ibadan house had never been visible in such a race and the first six winners were usually registered.

Mr. Ogidan patted me on the back and said, “Well done my girl.” I was nearly choked with glucose. There was a great jubilation in Ibadan house. Other track and field events were done and Ibadan managed to come third in a few while Lagos and Abuja houses stole the show. At the end of the competition came the announcement of results.

“Coming sixth overall is……..” said the announcer. “Ibadan house!” Shouted the whole school as they burst into laughter.

“Up up Ibadan”, whistled Mr. Ogidan. “Up up Ibadan!” Replied my house members. “Down down Ibadan,” jeered the remaining students as we shamelessly danced to our tent.

Back at the hostel, some seniors tried to cajole me to cross over to Lagos or Abuja but the fear of Mr. Ogidan would not let me, therefore I stayed in Ibadan house. The second year, Ibadan came sixth again.

There was no competition in the third year but in the fourth year, we came sixth again but Mr. Ogidan never stopped chanting “up up Ibadan” with his whistle and we were undaunted.

The fifth year had some of us already in the school relay team with many looking up to us. This made it easier for us to be able to encourage more juniors to stay. As seniors, we won a couple of medals as did some of the juniors. By the time the announcer came up with results that year, every one paid rapt attention. “Coming sixth is………” Everywhere was quiet. “Ikenne house!” Ibadan house members went into wild jubilation. For the first time in over a decade, that chair with which Ibadan sat hopelessly on the ground floor, which appeared stuck was moved to the first floor. Ibadan house had come fifth.

The manner of jubilation matched those that were in the first four positions. Mr. Ogidan was over-excited. This time, as he blew his whistle joyfully, the response was huge. Our mockers had backed off for the first time. We barely heard “down down Ibadan” unlike before.

Then came our final year. The competition was stiff and the adrenalin high as there was more at stake. For the first time in what appeared to be forever, Ibadan house had come first in the March past. This was a major breakthrough. We won a couple more medals and by the end of that year’s event, the results were announced;

“Coming sixth is Ikenne house, the fifth position goes to Kaduna house…….” We went wild with jubilation. We had moved from the first floor once again. Mr. Ogidan laughed out loud as he sat beside our tent. Our house members hugged him, shook hands with him and we all celebrated our exit from the first floor.

“Can we have some quiet please?” Said the announcer. Every one calmed down. “Coming fourth with three gold, four silver and three bronze is IBADAN HOUSE!” We didn’t even wait to hear the remaining announcement. Nothing mattered anymore. The first, second and third positions were made to feel like nothing compared to our fourth position.

As Mr. Ogidan blew his whistle again, “up up Ibadan”, the whole school including those who were not in our house responded with a thunderous “up up Ibadan”. We celebrated our moving up again. We didn’t come first, but we were the most improved house as we went from being less than underdogs to being the most improved house. That chair that used to be stuck to the ground floor had moved up to the second floor. That day, I learnt to celebrate small wins.

Mr. Ogidan passed on some years later but he lived to see his beloved Ibadan house move up. We never came first but we improved and that memory remains evergreen. So when I say, “UP UP IBADAN”, what will you say?

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26 thoughts on “Up! Up!! Ibadan!!!”

  1. Muyiwa Ashogbon

    This is nostalgic to me. I can totally relate . I love the story and it gave me shivers to hear that he’s late. He sure thought you guys that life was all about getting better. Today I learnt .

  2. Lol…I’m holding my stomach from laughter. Well done Dupe. I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet trip on memory Lane.

    You for try finish the story na…I lifted the first position for Enugu. Lol

  3. Nice story, shows that improvement does not have to be tremendous and also that if no one celebrates your improvement, you can celebrate by yourself so you can take the little victories as motivation for more improvement.

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