By ‘Kuti Sofumade
BLUNT OUTBURST: BASHORUN ONA KAKANFO UNIVERSITY aka UNILAG
   “University of Lagos (UNILAG)?! What’s in a name really? I think its rather depressing to see how young people have grown so accustomed to labeling their Commander-in-Chief all sorts of absurd monikers at the slightest opportunity. ‘Great men are detected in their words first of all’!

In 1992, I set my foot as a ruck-sack hugging new student on the architectural wizardry that is Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) when it was categorized as the 4th most expensive real estate in the world. After I encountered that listing around October of that year in an Architecture bulletin that compared properties ranging from stadia, universities, palaces, cathedrals, seats of government etc…I went on to discover that what was OAU then was actually the first step in a 7-phase colossal developmental project…that school for goodness sake was designed to have its own aerodrome at some point, in the later phases.

Instead of feeling bad that University of Ife (UNIFE) was re-christened OAU, I thought with hindsight, it would be better as concerned alumni to accomplish one or two of the remaining phases.

On an edition of Oprah Winfery Show, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave a USD100mn gift for community and educational development in a neighbourhood of his interest. That, from someone that couldn’t even claim Harvard as alma mater…or do you drop out of an Alma mater???

If so many current and ex-students were as a matter of duty engrossed about taking their alma mater to the next growth level…names and semantics would be a no-brainer!

I don’t agree with having an umbilical attachment to an alma mater in sound, cult and ‘length’ of name only…I thought we should have recorded demonstrations by UNILAG Alumni in time past where they would hold the Lagos metropolis to ransom demanding that the FG should allow them invest their last naira on transforming the great institution into a mercurial academic Mecca of some sort.

Not all those camcorder seeking poses and gestures…the wine goblets clanking, high decibel speeches and reminisces…gaily assembled repertoire of activities…tables and chairs procurement and unnecessary self-serving awards that have come to colour annually congregated ‘owambes’ called Alumni meetings.

We are meant to improve the ‘life’ of our schools as current students and alumni…not hold on to some names in a cult like manner. This does not expressly adjudge the re-christening of UNILAG as Moshood Abiola University expedient…but its not erroneous either…or a treasonable offence or some travesty as its being treated in some quarters of the media.

The culprit here is perception…many people that attended UNIFE before the OAU name-change still cling to the UNIFE name in the inner chambers of their beings…what does that produce? What does it achieve? What does it build? Perceptions of this scale have even failed to ‘build castles in the air’ to say the least.

UNILAG for whatever it stood for and would continue to stand for has not got much to do with the name…let’s cut ourselves loose from barbarism, sentiment, denial and myopia.

Did you see those placards being brandished by the great Akokites? I felt the bad spellings were too much…or were they St. Finbarr’s students sympathising with their ‘Ivy league’ neighbours?

And that argument about stationery, domain name change and all other expensive alterations? Is UNILAG not a Federal university anymore? I thought the DJ would normally set the tunes for the gig usually…stop kidding, ARE ONA KAKANFO joor”~Kutero, NEW TUNES!

3 Comments

  1. What is the breed of the writer? What kind of background and exposure does he have? I am sure this same guy will be quick to defend Yoruba tradition. However, a higher institution of learning, which graduates people who take pride in distinguishing themselves along with ties to their Alma Mata should be deprived of this?

    There is a saying that people who come from nothing hold no value to anything. MKO Abiola is a legacy to all Nigerians and should not be sectionalized, but honoured as a Nigerian. This means a monument in the FCT!!!

    It is clear that there is a great divide between people who do not have ties to prestige and those who are fortunate to have. Could this be the reason for the ramblings of the author? What exactly does he claim to be his motivation for this piece? Do we see a green leprechaun?

    Today, we read and hear of people graduating from the better global institutions of learning, proudly leading great heights and carrying their Institutes along with pride. Should Nigeria not copy these good examples? Should our people not feel Institutional ties and heritages, but just graduate and forget where they come from?

    I was lucky enough to have attended a University in the United States that was founded in 1884 and remains with the same name.

    Na jealousy go kill plenty Nigerians!!!

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