I am here to inaugurate the Queen’s School Enugu Alumni Association West Coast Region – the fifth in a row. Up Queen’s School Enugu Alumni Association World-wide! Hurray! There is an anecdote to embellish it.
The Igbo People have a Cultural expression of “ISE”, which means “FIVE”.
First of all, in their idiomatic and proverbial expressions, they say that:
“Mkpisi-aka di ise, zue-ezu, which means: COMPLETENESS!
Nke-ozo: “Mkpisi-aka di ise, mana fa n’ese araro ira”;
Meaning that they are FIVE, BUT NOT EQUAL!
Nke ozo: Mkpisi-aka nine di mkpa, n’alu olu fa – All the five fingers are important and functional;
Obulu na nke ise – isi-aka – adiro ya, aka agba ighaligha – meaning that: If the fifth finger, which is the thumb, is not there, the hand will be dysfunctional. This means that the hand cannot function well without the thumb - or the fifth finger;
The Queen’s School Enugu Alumni Association West Coast Region is the proud Fifth finger;
But that position is certainly not to render the other fingers unimportant or dysfunctional;
Rather, it should be to bind all of them together, like glue, and to enhance their performance!
Also in Igbo Cultural and Traditional Prayer, which is expressed in Igbo as “Igo-Ofo”, especially while praying with the Kola Nut (Oji, which I do not have here) or the pronouncement of Blessings, the Response or Herald of each pronouncement is: “ISE-E-E-E!”
With this, I inaugurate the Queen’s School Enugu Alumni Association West Coast Region, the Fifth Chapter, to make complete the five Fingers of the hand of the Associations of this great Institution, in the USA, ISE-E-E-E!
For the Empowerment of Girls to Be Architects of change! ISE-E-E-E!
And to be Outstanding and Shinning Beacons of Light of Achievements! ISE-E-E-E!
Queen’s School Enugu Alumni Associations of the USA have come into existence since 2006, but certainly this fifth Chapter will not be to close the door! ISE-E-E-E!
There may yet be the 6th, 7th and 10th Chapters! ISE-E-E-E-!
Congratulations! All say “ISE-E-E-E-E-E-E”!
HIP! HURRAH! HIP, HIP!! HURRAH!! HIP, HIP, HIP!!! HURRAH!!!
O. E. Odinamadu (Mrs.)
PREAMBLE: The Devastating Effects of the War on the People
It would be appropriate to begin this account with calling attention to the devastating situation of the Nigeria versus Biafra War of 7th July, 1967 – 12th January, 1970 on the people of Biafra. It spared nothing - the psyche, physical and materials resources of the people. There was extreme scarcity of food. It was the people’s first experience of War, apart from that of the Second World War when only Salt and Rice were, occasionally, rationed to the people at one-penny a cigarette-cup. This time, all Schools – primary, secondary and tertiary institutions - were closed throughout the war-period, especially in areas that the Nigerian Army had entered; and for the fear of bombing. Pupils, students and teachers who found themselves on indefinite holidays, went helter-skelter.
The moment the Military Government was set up in Nigeria after the Coup d’état of 15th January, 1966, and throughout the Crisis, the standards of the Military became the yard-stick. The CRISIS was the period between the Coup d’état of 15th January, 1966; the massacre of Easterners, especially the Igbo in Northern Nigeria in May, 1966 - known as the Pogrom, in which it was estimated that about 30,000 Easterners were killed; the subsequent massacres that followed on the 27th July and 27th September, 1966; respectively, before the Conference at Aburi, Ghana, of the 4th – 5th January, 1967; and the Declaration of the Democratic Republic of Biafra on 30th May, 1967.
During the War, some young men enlisted in the Biafra Army, and others were conscripted. While the adult men were in hiding from conscription, women were let loose on Ahia-Attack (trading with Nigerians across the enemy lines), while others, especially young women, were at the heels of the soldiers, especially Army Officers. Some of these women were among the set of returnee-students, who presented the greatest problems for discipline.
Generally, the women of Biafra, in their organizations, participated in the effort to provide cooked meals for soldiers and hospitals and refugee camps; and dry-packs for the soldiers at the war-fronts and trenches. The Refugee Camps had become the homes of most Biafrans whose areas had been overrun by Nigerian soldiers and, therefore, evacuated.
2. My Posting to Queen’s School
My assignment to Queen’s School by the Chief Inspector of Education to re-open Queen’s School, was almost immediately after the Ministry of Education had resumed in Enugu, following the surrender of Biafra by Major-General Philip Effiong on 15th January, 1970, Right away, I thought that such a destruction and sight needed to be recorded in pictures. Therefore, I contacted the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, and he arranged for some reporters and video-cameramen to go on the tour of inspection with me the next morning.
3. My First Trip to Queen’s School, and Inspection of the Devastation
The thought of what I would see was giving me the jitters. Stepping on the grounds of the School and on the Quadrangle, from where one could view all the desolation and the merciless destruction of all the buildings around it, was like stepping on grounds that had been hit by a tornado and deserted. The chirping of birds and crickets, in the absolute quietness, was loud and clear. And the sight of the carcasses of the burnt-out buildings: the Principal’s Office; the Chemistry Laboratory; the Classes One and Two Block of Classrooms; the Assembly Hall; and the Library, all of which had been totally or partly burnt down, was heart-breaking.
The feeling during that tour of inspection was one of disappointment, disgust and anger at whoever must have done that senseless destruction to the beautiful Institution. I started by going to the heaps of the library books which had been emptied on the Quadrangle – touching some, picking up others and dropping them again. Looking up and around, I was seeing the pieces of furniture that were littered around – some burned or hacked to pieces. During the inspection, sometimes, I was so overwhelmed by grief at the desolation that tears came to my eyes, as I cast my mind back to what I had known of the School before the War, compared to the sights at the inspection.
Next, I went to the buildings - the Principal’s Office first - and started by peeping in, before walking in slowly, as if treading on holy grounds - though desecrated, In some of the buildings, only the blocks of the walls were standing, while the charred cement plastering, the wood-work and broken-glass, formed the rubbles and ashes piled on the floors. Having not estimated the magnitude of the rubbles and ashes properly, I wore only covered shoes, when I should have worn boots and a shorter dress or skirt, because the rubbles and ashes which were some feet and inches-deep, completely covered my shoes, and the edges of my long skirt were smeared with them.
4. The most devastating and unforgettable sight of all was the heaps of the Library Books on the Quadrangle that had been burned, drenched and scotched by rain and weather for God- knows-how-long, and damaged beyond reclamation. Buildings and the Science Laboratory could be reconstructed, reequipped, refurnished and refurbished to even better standards, but not the books, most of which could not be known or reacquired.
5. Summoning All the Academic and Non-academic Staff and Students to Report
The practice for the immediate spreading of information after the War was to make announcements over the Radio. Therefore, the initial call on all the academic and non-academic staff and students to report at Queen’s School, was so made. Of course, all of those who reported were very happy to see each other. They embraced and hugged each other, and thus helped in their own identification. Then everybody registered.
6. The Return of the Old Students; the Academic and Non-Academic Staff
The mood at the return of the old students, the academic and non-academic staff was the same - very somber and of heart-break, seeing the difference from the place they used to know before the War. Everybody that came by felt the same way.
They returnees were also interested in looking around. And they did in a sorrowful atmosphere – hands folded across the chests or akimbo, with exclamations and hisses of disgust and disappointment throughout the period. While the non-academic staff helped with some cleaning-up, the academic staff prepared the announcement to invite applications from candidates for new admissions. They also prepared for the written entrance examinations, given one week later, and to be followed with interviews, the same day. Two streams of thirty students were to be selected for Class One and various numbers to fill up the other classes.
7. Who Was Responsible for the Destruction; And For What Motive?
There were speculations about who was responsible for the burning down of the major buildings of the School; as well as the motive behind the arson. No one really knew when it happened, but one thought was that the fire might have started from the uncontrollable bush-fires, usually set off by local village bush- rodent hunters, that burned into the School premises, then into the overgrown grasses or bushes around the buildings, and on to the buildings, one after the other.
But if the bush-rodent hunters were responsible, they might have ransacked and carried away the pieces of furniture, but could not have been the people who emptied out the School’s Library Books on the Quadrangle and set them on the fire that destroyed a good many of them, and leaving all of them there, exposed to the onslaught of the weather, for God-knows-how-long.
Another thought was that it might have been done by Nigerian soldiers, who entered Enugu in October, 1967, when the city was evacuated, and occupied it until the end of the War in January, 1970. The most likely motive was their spite for the educational advancement of the Easterners, among whom are the Igbo – who were then Biafrans – against whom they were fighting. The Nigerian soldiers might have wanted to destroy the School, especially the Library and the Books, which they regarded as the embodiment of the “dogo turenchi” or “oke akwukwo” or “oke-mmuta” of the Igbo, especially of the girls who, as far as the vandals were concerned, were not supposed to go to school at all.
Or, could there have been a combination of assaults by the two suspects, independently and respectively, that left such a trail of wanton destruction, as was seen?
8. Video-tape Of the Initial Inspection of Queen’s School
Even though those were the hay-days of Video Cassettes, one was made of me going round Queen’s School, into every nook and corner, viewing and inspecting the burned and abandoned books; the burned down buildings and furniture; walking on the rubbles; scooping up the ashes; picking up the debris as if to make sure what they were; picking up some of the unsalvageable Library books and throwing them down again. I went to the dormitories and viewed the emptiness, as every piece of furniture had been removed, and the windows, doors and bathroom and toilet fixtures were either removed or removed. This went on for several hours during which, at times, the weight of the loss and the cost of the unconscionable destruction of the School filled my mind
The Video was shown on the Nigerian Television on daily basis, at prime time, for a long time; and later, it was shown regularly on weekly basis, until the showing tapered off to occasional showings. The Video may still be available in the archives of the Ministry of Information, Enugu. There was a copy of the tapes for Queen’s School, which was among the things to which I called the attention when I left the Principal’s Office. I was also given a personal copy, which may still be in my home in Nigeria.
9. Cleaning Up and Carting Away the Rubbles and Ashes
The Ministry of Works came to the rescue, and sent their men and vehicles to clean up and collect the debris. They also sent men to cut the over-grown bushes and grasses, and sprayed the buildings and grounds for reptiles, rats and mice, which were destroyed in their hundreds and thousands. Ponds were also sprayed for mosquitoes. The Matron’s Quarters, the Maintenance and other non-academic staff-quarters were also cleared, cleaned and sprayed, to enable the people reoccupy them and to resume duty.
10. Re-Admission of Returnee-Students
In as much as there was the need to readmit all the returnee-students, and they wanted to be re-admitted and accommodated in all circumstances, there was also the need to take great care so as to avoid mistaken identities and gate-crashers, who would pose as having been students of Queen’s School or of any other school. Each returnee was first of all required to register, giving her full names, Class, House, House Captain, as well as the name of the Class Teacher, who would help to identify them. Of course, old students easily recognized and identified each other, and the academic staff also recognized them. Once identified, they were admitted and placed in their proper classes.
11. No Loss of Any Queen’s School Life During the War; but Generally of Biafrans
As I recall, there was no report of any loss of life of any member of Queen’s School, Enugu - either of a student, academic or non-academic staff, during the War. Almost everybody returned except a few in each class. Therefore, there was no need for any ceremony for any loss of life. But there were students and staff who did not return for other reasons. But the enormous loss of lives of Biafrans during the pogrom and the War was noted, and discussed commonly.
12. Admission of New Students in Class One and Filling Up Classes Two to Upper Six
Some people had thought that the reopening of the School would be chaotic, and therefore, a good opportunity for them to pick and choose any school or classes for admission. There was a great deal of pressure from parents and guardians and mentors, to influence the admission of their wards and protégées. and especially of the girl-friends of Army Officers, most of whom might have been trying to get back to school with other agenda other than that of being secondary school students.
But I insisted on transparent performance at the entrance examinations and the interviews that followed, to make the selections. This caused some disaffection with those whose candidates failed With the initiatives and co-operation of the academic staff, we were able to make the best selections of candidates who acquitted themselves creditably, both in the short and the long run. We were able to admit two streams of Class One and filled up the other classes with different numbers.
13. After-school Coaching-classes
At a Staff Meeting, the teachers agreed to hold after-school classes for students so as to help them pick up, and to bring up their standards, which were rusticated throughout the war period. The students of the classes before the War were promoted to the next classes, and were followed up with after-school lessons, home-work and extra tutoring. That program was going on very well when I left the School. The extra coaching paid good dividends as Queen’s School performed very well even in the WAEC of 1970.
14. The First Assembly and Re-opening of Classes
The first Assembly and re-opening of classes took place two weeks later, early in February, 1970 the Chief Inspector of Education and the Inspector of Education (Secondary School) were invited to attend this first Assembly at which they introduced the new Principal to the whole School, which introduction had been made to the academic and non-academic staff. They commented on the situation of Queen’s School after the War, and welcomed everybody – the returnees as well as the new students.
The non-return of the former Principal and Vice-Principal and some students did not require any special ceremony, except to state the fact during the Assembly; and offering prayers for them, as well as for those who returned, for continued God’s protection and guidance.
Likewise, the enormous loss of lives during the War was noted; a two-minute silence was observed in their memories, and ended with a prayer offered for the peaceful repose of their souls, with the Lord. Amen!
15. Some Temporary Members of the Academic Staff
Within one week, two new members of the academic staff, who were the staff of the UNN, Nsukka were posted temporarily to Queen’s School, until the University reopened. They were Dr. Laz Ekwueme, who eventually became a professor at the UNN, Nsukka, and Dr. Ndubuisi, who also went back to the UNN.
16. No Dormitory Accommodation Initially, But Snacks and Food for Students
For obvious reasons, students could not be admitted into the dormitories immediately the School reopened. The buildings were standing, but they were ransacked and all the furniture was gone. The students had to be coming from outside but, arrangements were made for women to bring in various kinds of snacks for students to buy during the recess, as usual.
Then within a few weeks, after the cleaning up, students were admitted into the dormitories, but they had to bring in beds and lockers for themselves. Food could also not be cooked in the School Kitchen to feed them. And as a temporary measure, while the Kitchen was being fixed, arrangements were made for some women to bring in cooked food in the mornings for breakfast; afternoons for lunch; and evenings for dinner, to be served in the Dinning Room. These women were interviewed by a panel of academic and non-academic staff, and their cooking were tasted and approved by them,
17. The Use of Buildings and Pieces of Furniture Found In Good Condition
Some buildings were found intact, such as the Geography Room, which was used temporarily as the Principal’s Office. One other large classroom was used as Staff Room. Some of the salvaged desks and chairs were put in the make-shift Staff-Room, and the staff had to share the use of the desks and chairs. The rest of the classrooms were cleaned and put to use as they were ready. The Lower and Upper Six Classrooms behind the Geography Room, which were also intact, were re-occupied by the students. Next to be salvaged and put to use were the Dormitories, Kitchen, and Teachers Quarters.
When classes started, as there were only a few tables and chairs left, some of the teachers had to use the windowsills or the floors to lay their books and bags, while others brought furniture from home. A saving grace was that there were wall-blackboards, and I had to buy boxes of chalk and Biro-pens from the SS&S Bookshop to issue out to the teachers. Almost all of the students had to bring desks, chairs, stools and lockers, or sit and write on the bare floors. This went on for the whole of the first term, until some school furniture started to be supplied to the School during the holidays.
18. Reconstruction of the Damaged Buildings
Almost immediately the School reopened, the Ministry of Works inspected and awarded contracts for the reconstruction of the Principal’s Office and the Classes One and Two Classroom Block, which was to the left of the Principals Office. The work on the block of classrooms was progressing nicely until one night, there was a heavy rain and storm which carried off the half-way done roof as a unit, and dumped it on the Quadrangle. It was glory to God that it did not happen during the day or when people were around. Of course, that contract had to be cancelled and the job was re-awarded.
Then one morning, the new contractor and his team were not at the site, I rushed to the office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works who had been co-operating very well and frequenting the site to see the progress of the work. He could not say much to me, and as I understood it, his hands and tongue had been officially tied. But upon further enquiry from other sources, I was made to understand that the order was given by the then Administrator of the East Central State – Dr. Ukpabi Asika – to stop the work forthwith. It was stopped, but completed after I had gone.
19. Assembly Hall and the Gift from the Federal Government
The Assembly Hall had been burned down, but instead of the Federal Government helping to reconstruct the building at its site, chose to put up a hall of steel-structure, in the name of the rehabilitation of the School. The building was placed at the space in front of the block of classrooms for Classes three and four, on the right. The building, which was completed after I had left the School, did not fit into the Master Plan of the School, and was absolutely unsightly.
Suggestions to the builders to site the building elsewhere, was totally rejected by them. In fact, the citing of the building made people think that there might have been an ulterior motive, in the execution of that project, to spoil the beauty of the School and the utility of the other buildings. It constituted an eye-sore and spoilt the beauty and symmetry of the whole Institution. The same awkward citing of a steel-structure was repeated at the WTC, Enugu. Using the structure as an Assembly Hall was awkward; and it could not be dismantled and carried elsewhere because of the cost that would be involved.
20. The Kitchen and Students’ Food Committee
When the Kitchen was ready, contractors were engaged to supply raw foods in bulk. To help the Matron in bringing out what was to be cooked, a Food Committee comprising of students and the Matron was set up. While the Matron received the big supplies from the contractors and kept them in the Main Food Store, she issued some in smaller quantities to the Student Food Committee, to keep in a smaller store, from which they issued out the quantities to be cooked on daily basis, and keep the store under lock and key.
The Kitchen Staff were also briefed to be very mindful of the cooking, so as to make the food very palatable for the students. They were also enjoined not to play hanky-panky with the food.
21. Student Dressing Without School Uniforms
As School uniforms were not readily available, and the economic conditions of the families after the War did not also warrant requiring uniforms immediately, students were allowed to come in their ordinary clothes, with some regulations, such as:
No minis or long-sleeves or flowing gowns or skirts;
Sweaters and raincoats were allowed;
No hair longer than three inches, worn loose, braided or tied;
No earrings, except small, button-type, clipped or attached to the ears;
No necklaces or rings or bracelets of any type;
No lipsticks, nail-polish or eye and facial make-up;
No slippers of any type were allowed.
No slippers of any type were allowed.
No plastic or bathroom-slippers of any type were allowed;
Only flat sandals of any colors, or bare feet, were allowed;
A warning was issued that any prohibited items worn beyond the designated point, would be removed from the wearer and confiscated. Repeated offences would be followed with other disciplinary measures. But in spite of this warning, which was repeated every morning at the Assembly, some of the students were insistent on coming with them. The disallowed items were collected every morning at physical inspection before the Assembly, and kept in the Principal’s Office. Heaps of the confiscated items were in my office when I left Queen’s School.
22. Permissions and Exeat Cards
Boarding Students were not allowed to go out, even at approved times, without the Exeat Cards, signed by the House Captain and the House Mistress, also signed and returned by the person allowed to be visited. Any break earned the student some punishment or sanctions.
There was also zero intolerance for lateness. This strictness on discipline, and my expression to drive it in, earned me a nickname at Queen’s School, Enugu.
23. Inside Gate at Queen’s School
As the students and staff lived in the town and came to school every morning, it was imperative that lateness must be checked. Also the use of cars and taxis for transportation to school
underlined the necessity for checking both motor vehicles and pedestrian traffic – authorized and unauthorized – into the School premises. Therefore, a Gate had to be constructed at the end of the long walk from the Entrance gate and a few yards from the site of the Principal’s Office. The gate was made of aluminum pipes, expanded metal and iron-rods; had two swinging shutters; hinged on concrete pillars on both sides, with one small gate on either side for pedestrians.
Gate-men were, therefore, needed to check the traffic of motor-vehicles and pedestrians, and to keep the gates open or closed as needed. It was opened at 7:00 a.m. in the morning, and finally closed at 7:00 p.m. in the evening. The gate was especially useful in checking student lateness, as well as dormitory borders sneaking in and out. And motor-vehicles had to stop, be checked before being allowed to enter.
24. Problems of Discipline
There were problems of discipline, especially with the girls who had lived freely throughout the War period, and have forgotten all about school-discipline, and that they would have to return to school and strict discipline. My stance on discipline irked those students and their mentors outside. I believe that the dislike by some powers-that-were of the non-admission of some candidates, and my insistence on strict discipline of those who were admitted, were part of the reasons why I was taken out of Queen’s School.
25. Fence-wall Around Queen’s School
Apart from checking the traffic in and out of the front gate, the need was felt to provide some sort of barricade or fence-wall around the whole Queen’s School premises. It would be very necessary to secure the School from dare-devil students, who would sometimes defy the rules and regulations, and to keep out intruders and predators who would take chances on preying on the students. Securing the front and leaving the back entirely open was in the fashion of the ostrich that buries its head in the sand, but leaves its back-side totally exposed. Such a barricade around was thought of as a necessity, but would be a very expensive proposition. However, I was not in the School long enough to bring up such an idea even for a study of the cost to be made.
26. “Operation Feed the Nation” And the School Farm
When we returned from the War, the on-going project for Nigeria was “Operation Feed the Nation”, which was for the encouragement of agriculture to produce food of all description, enough to feed the hungry millions, and to spare. Myself being the daughter of farmers, and big-time village farmers at that, I understood farming, participated in farm-work with my parents and enjoyed it. I also took pleasure in practicing it on my own, and encouraging it among my friends.
By the time the School reopened, one Chief Ezenwa of Ekwuluobia, who lived on Annang Street, opposite Queen’s School, had occupied Queen’s School land and started to farm on it, without any kind of permission from any constituted authority. When the School re-opened, and I saw the farm, I sent for him, and asked him to stop his farm-work there, forthwith, and to remove whatever he had planted. He thought that I was joking, and continued. I had to send for him a second time, to warn him that going further would mean that I would send people to destroy the farm.
That was when he realized the seriousness of the matter, and started sending emissaries to talk to me, and to convince me to let him continue until his crops were ripe and harvested. Of course, that was not granted. The moment he moved out, I invited the Ministry of Agriculture to help in setting up the School Farm and in the supervision. Then Rural Science was included in the School curriculum and time-table.
The land was cut into plots for each class, to the extent that each student had a mound or ridge, on which they planted such crops as: maize, sweet potatoes and yams, and vegetables such as okra, greens, keren-keren, arira, onugbu, ugu, ugbogulu, akidi with seeds and fertilizer supplied by the Ministry. The first harvests of these crops were shared by the students and staff. But when the School Kitchen opened, they were used for cooking for the students. This not only saved money but also enriched the menu.
27. Landscaping of the School Compound
We also invited the Market Garden to help in landscaping the campus, and in the planting of shrubs and flowers to beautify the place and make it more habitable. This was done, and the flowers were already blooming and the shrubs growing when I left Queen’s School, thanks to the fact that the School reopened at the beginning of the rainy-season.
28. Sports and Games
School Sports and Games were started in earnest without any waste of time, with the equipments that could be gathered from the Sports Commission, local Shops and the Market. Practices and challenges went on among the Classes and Houses, while they were preparing for outside competitions and challenges, such as for the Youths Day; the National Sports Competitions; and for entries in the Festival of the Arts for Arts, Literature and Dancing. As we had sacrificed three-and-a-half years to the War, we had a great deal of catching up to do, and no more time to waste.
29. In-door Games
We also tried to introduce indoor games like Scrabbles; Ludo; Snakes & Ladders; Nchokolito or Ncho or Okwe, known as Ayo in Yoruba; Playing Cards; Chinese Checkers; while carrying on with Lawn-Tennis and Table-Tennis Games, Volley Ball; Basket-ball; Baseball and Football;.
30. School Book-store
In order to help students with procuring text-books and exercise books easily and at cheaper prices, I started the “Queen’s School Supplies Store” for Students and Staff. I got books from the CMS Bookshop, which had been renamed the Stationery and School Supplies (SS&S) Bookshop, as well as from some traders in the Market, at bulk purchase discount prices, which were passed on to students and staff.
Some of the books were placed at the Staff Room, as a beginning to reequip the School Library. Sister Joseph Therese Agbasiere was coming to get some books from us when she was the Principal of the Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka.
31. How and Why I left Queen’s School, Enugu
One day in August, 1971, I received a letter from the Chief Inspector of Education to come to his office. Mr. George Akabogu, now late, the Principal of Afikpo Government College, which reopened at the Institute of Administration, which was the building at the top of the hill, behind Queen’s School, received the same letter. Both of us met there. And after a while of fidgeting and going in and out of the office, the Chief Inspector brought two letter – one for me and the other for Mr. Akabogu.
They letters conveyed the instruction e that both of us were to proceed on indefinite leave, with immediate effect. No reasons were given. “Indefinite Leave” was used in those days as a disciplinary measure. Further inquiries revealed that it was on account of the exception that the Administrator of the East Central State had been nursing about the roles that Mr. Akabogu and I played before and during the War in Biafra.
32. The Roles I Played For Biafra
I started with the Civil Orientation Committee that went round Eastern Nigeria, gingering Easterners up to the realities of the Crisis, with the slogan: “EASTERNERS – ARE YOU AWARE!” And when the “Leaders of Thought” decided on secession from Nigeria, we went round with the slogan: “EASTERNERS – GET READY!”. After the summit at Aburi, Ghana, the Committee went round again with another slogan: “ON ABURI WE STAND!” This Slogan was on-going when the “DEMOCTATIC REPUBLIC OF BIAFRA” was declared on 30th May, 1967.
After the War was declared by Nigeria on Biafra, in the position of the President of the Biafra Council of Women’s Societies, I mobilized the women of Biafra for their Win-the-War Efforts throughout the War. I also led the delegation of the women of Biafra to the Queen of England; and to the Friends of Biafra in Europe. When the Relief Materials we were given arrived, I led the distributed of them to the women’s organizations for their Win-the-War Efforts.
The Indefinite Leave was from August, 1970, during the Second Term, for one whole year until August, 1971. Then I retired voluntarily. It was during the period that I was on Indefinite Leave that Mrs. Maria David-Osuagwu acted as Principal, and continued until Rev. Sister Joseph Therese Agbasiere was transferred from the Holy Rosary Secondary School, Nsukka to take over from her.
33. In Memoriam of Persons Who Served Queen’s School, Enugu and Have Passed Away.
Unfortunately and sadly, since the reopening of Queen’s School after the Nigeria versus Biafra War, we have lost by death, some of the members of the academic staff, and of the Board of Governors, who served the School diligently, namely:
i. Mr. Felix Nwuba …………………..................................Music Master
ii. Chief R. O. Nkworcha………………………………………...Member, Board of Governors
iii. Miss Sussan Obi…………..………………… ………………..Physical Education Master, and.
iv. Rev. Mother Dr. Joseph Therese Agbasiere..………..Principal.
v. Mr. Andy Anyamene Senior Advocate of Nigeria…….Former Member/Chairman, Board of Governors
vi. Any others whose passing has not come to my attention.
May we all stand, and observe a one-minute silence, in the memories and honor of the dear souls of: Mr. Felix Nwuba; Chief R. O. Nkworcha; Miss Sussan Obi; Rev. Dr. Mother Joseph Therese Agbasiere; and Mr. Andrew Anyamene, S.A.N.; and all those whose passing may not have come to my attention. We pray, in reverence to God, for the peaceful repose of their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, that through the mercy of God, they may have eternal rest, at the bosom of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen!!!
Oyibo E. Odinamadu (Mrs.)
1. She was born:
- the second child and second daughter to Mr. Ekemezie Akwuba of Umunogem Family, Umudunu Kindred, Dusogu Village, Awkuzu City, Oyi Local Government Area; and
- Mrs. Mgboye Akwuba, (Nee Nwolisakwe) of Okpuluoji Kindred, Akwa Village, Ifitedunu City, Njikoka Local Government Area - both of Anambra State of Nigeria;
- Of parents who were among the third generation early Christians converts, of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), (Anglican Communion), of St. James Church, Awkuzu City in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State of Nigeria;
- On 2ndJanuary, 1928.
- She had her early education in
Nigeriabefore proceeding to the in 1948, under the auspices of Dr. Nwafor Orizu’s American Council on African Education Scholarship Scheme (ACAE), for further studies; United States of America
- She graduated Bachelor of Arts in Education/History/Sociology, from Lincoln University of Missouri in 1952; and
- Master of Arts in Education (Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education) from Teachers College,
City, U.S.A, in 1953. Columbia University, New York
She returned home, after her studies, in January, 1954:
- The first woman graduate of
Eastern Nigeriaorigin, and also with a second degree.
- Experienced difficulty to be employed by the British Director of Education in the Eastern Region Department of Education; she took employment as the first
- Assistant Secretary with the Eastern Regional Production and Development Board (ERPDB) in 1954, which become the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation (ENDC), up to 1957; and thereafter, the first woman of Eastern Nigeria origin to be:
- Education Officer in the
Eastern NigeriaMinistry of Education. In the course of her career, she was:
- Classroom teacher at the WTC;
- the Principal of the
Women Teachers Training College(WTC), ; Enugu
- Inspector of Schools – Secondary;
- Principal of Queen’s School,
- Inspector in-charge Examinations and Teachers Registration Branch;
- Attain the rank of Inspector of Education Grade One; and retired voluntarily in 1971.
4. MARRIAGE & FAMILY
She married Benedict Obidimma Odinamadu – an Administrative Officer - to Permanent Secretary, in the Public Service, in 1957; and they were blessed with four children – 2 boys and 2 girls. Her husband transcended into glory in November 1979.
5. PRIVATE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
- The Echo Enterprises Limited and went into the business of Retail cum Wholesale of Supermarket Goods with a Boutique Section, in 1972;
- The Company was set up in
Enuguwith branches at Abakaliki and ; Onitsha
- Her husband later joined her in the business, and added a Road Haulage Section by the name of Pelican Transport Company;
- He also floated the John Kenneth Nigeria Limited Company, for importation of goods.
She was appointed to various Government Boards and Parastatals from 1954 notably from 1972-1999, notably, as:
- Chairman of the Board of Governors of Queen’s (Secondary) School,
, and Member of the:. Enugu Management Board; Anambra State School
- Hospital Management Board;
- Judicial Commission of Enquiry Into Examination Leakages 1975 (JUDICEL ’75);
- National Council for the observation of the International Women’s Year (IWY ’75);
- Governing Council of
Bendel State University(now ), 1*81 to 1984; Ambrose Alli University Development Board; Anambra State Local Government Service Commission; Anambra State
- Governing Council of Nnamdi Azikiwe University; among others.
7. VOLUNTARY ACTIVITIES
She served as
- One of the pioneer and founding members of the first non-governmental, non religious, charitable, non-profit women’s organization in Eastern Region of Nigeria - the Women’s Cultural and Philanthropic Organization (WCPO) Enugu, in 1958; and its president;
- The WCPO was the forerunner of the National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS), which is the national umbrella for women’s organizations, also founded in 1958;
- as the President of the Eastern Regional Branch; the Eastern Nigeria Branch; the Biafra Council of Women’s Societies; the East Central State Branch of the NCWS and of Anambra State Branch, respectively, until 1979.
- She is a Life Member of the NCWS.
- She led the delegation of the Women of Biafra to the Queen of England, about the
versus Biafra War in 1968. Nigeria
- Chairman of the community development organization in her marital home of Abatete, in Idemili Local Government Area - the Abatete Task Force Group on Development – which brought Electricity to the town, under the Anambra State Rural Electrification Project;
- She also initiated the Electrification Project of Awkuzu, her paternal home town, in Oyi Local Government Area, in bringing Electricity to the town, in co-operation with the Awkuzu Progressive Union, also under the Anambra State Rural Electrification Project;
- Provincial Secretary of the Provincial Mothers Union, Province III,
(Anglican Communion), 1991-94. Churchof Nigeria
8. POLITICAL PARTY ACTIVITIES
In 1978 she:
- joined the Unity Party of Nigeria led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo (now of blessed memory).
- was elected the National Vice-president of the Party, and also served as
- the Party’s Chairman of the National Working Committee 1978-84.
- was the Deputy-Gubernatorial Candidate for
in the 1979 Elections; Anambra State
9. LITERARY INTERESTS
Pursuing her literary interests, she published a book entitled:
- The Dilemma of the Igbo Political Elite;
She has delivered papers on a variety of subjects to Conferences and Symposia,
- Women In Society;
- Widows and Orphans in Traditional Igbo Society;
- Women In
. Others are: Nation Building
- Empowerment of Women;
- Low Enrollment of Boys in Schools in
- What Remedies; Anambra State
- Ordination of Women In the Church of the
(Anglican Communion) – An Advocacy; Provinceof Nigeria
- Burial According to Christian Rites - What Significance;
- Community Development: Its Multifarious Aspects;
- Origin of Awkuzu In Umu-Iguedo Clan;
- Many Goodwill Messages to various organizations, respectively, at home and abroad;
- Participation in numerous Radio and Television Discussion Programs, on a wide variety of topics;
- In recent times, contributed many articles to the mass media, including:
· “SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH
· In Conversation With Obi Nwakanma, for the Chinua Achebe Foundation;
· A REJOINDER – being a commentary on the Report of the AKA-IKENGA AND OHANEZE RETREAT AT ASABA 2004;
· President Bill Clinton and the Movie: HOTEL RWANDA – Why the Change of Mind after Supporting the Genocide in
· There Is Not Much to Give Credit For: A Rejoinder to Paul Edujie’s RE: President Obasanjo’s Diplomatic Finesse, Unheralded;
· What Serious-Minded Countries Do to Face-off Corruption;
· The Grand Home-Coming of Ndi Igbo- Parts 1 & 11;
· Comments on General Yakubu Gowon’s Conversation With Pini Jason;
· Comments on General Ojukwu’s Conversation With Chido Nwangwu;
· Sovereign National Conference: Revolutionizing
· Numerous postings on the Internet Fora.
She has completed a manuscript, awaiting publication, entitled:
· “FAIR PLAY: Igbo Women Plead for Compassion, Empathy and Fairness – in the application of Igbo customary practices to the girl-child and women”, under her IGBO CUSTOMS SERIES; currently working on the following:
· MY JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE - BLAZING TRAILS!
· MY MEMOIRES – I REMEMBER!
· CULTURAL PRACTICES OF IGBO PEOPLE.
She publishes articles on political and social issues affecting the society, women and children, especially girl-children. Read some of the blogs at her Website:
She has been recognized by:
- The Nigerian Federal Government, at the inception of the Nigerian National Honors in 1964, with the award of Member of the Order of the
- The Biafra Government with the award of the Member of the Order of the Republic of Biafra (MORB);
- The Diocese on the
Nigerof the (Anglican Communion) as a foundation member of the Order of the Knighthood of St. Christopher (KSC) 1978; Churchof Nigeria
· The Nigerian Union of Journalists of the
- The Nigerian Association of University Women in 1980 for the upliftment and empowerment of women in education and in the society;
- The Nigerian National Center for Women Development as a foundation and founding member of the National Council of Women’s Societies; honored at the inception of the awards in 2004, by having a building standing in her name at the Women’s Center,
- The presentation of a Plaques by the Abatete USA Inc. on its Fifth Annual Convention 2004, in appreciation of her invaluable pieces of advice to the Abatete Development Union of North Carolina;
- The USAfrica and Class Magazine for due recognition of the ability she has shown regarding the development of the bilateral interests of Nigeria and the United States; and in respect of her professional distinctions as a community pillar, and in our community’s multimedia and news leader in America, USAfrica honors her with: Mother of the Year 2005;
- The Idemili Association, in sincere appreciation of her support and contributions to Idemili Association and Women’s Rights in
, at the Idenite, 2006; Nigeria
- The Anambra State Association Dallas-Fort Worth (ASA-DFW)- African Civic Awareness & History Preservation Award, in recognition of her efforts to uphold African History and by her presentation and enlightenment on the life and legacy of the Late Rt. Hon, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe – Zik of Africa- on the occasion of the First Biennial Zik of Africa Symposium, Anambra Day, February 28, 2009;
12. LEISURE ACTIVITIES
In her leisure she loves to engage in a variety of satisfying activities, such as:
- voluntary and charitable work;
- Church activities;
- Internet Fora discussions;
- keep-fit exercises;
- listening to classical and a variety of music and dancing;
- watching movies and theatre;
- singing songs and choruses;
- onding with grand-children;
- sewing, and
- home-keeping for the family.
11. UPLIFTERS CHARITIES
She plans to start an organization for charitable activities, to be known as the UPLIFTERS CHARITIES. She proposes that the Organization will undertake:
· Campaign against female circumcision.
· Campaign against childhood marriage of the girl-child.
· Material assistance for poverty alleviation among rural women.
In economic development areas for poverty alleviation, some limited financial and material assistance is planned for women, to support small-scale partnerships and co-operatives, at grassroots levels.
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