Thursday, June 27, 2013

School Zik, Eyo Ita, Ogunsanya attended to become National Monument


Plans are afoot to make the Hope Waddell Training Institution (HWTI), fondly called Howad, a national monument; according to Mr. Oluremi Adedayo, Director of Heritage, Monuments and Sites at the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

Although Howad, which will clock 120 years old in barely 24 months, is not among Nigeria’s current 65 Declared National Monuments, it deserves to be one in terms of history, heritage and monuments et cetera. Founded in 1895 by functionaries of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) Mission, Howad is located on Diamond Hill in Calabar, capital of Cross River State.

This elite institution is named in honour of the Reverend Hope Masterton Waddell. However, the man never got to know of this memento to his contribution as he died a few days after the decision to name the school after him was reached.

A recall of Howad ex-students easily sheds light on the monumental impact this school has made. The late Rt. Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president; Prof Eyo Ita, elected leader of then Eastern Government of Nigeria in 1951; Eze Akanu Ibiam, medical practitioner, missionary and later, Eastern Region Governor; Prof Eni Njoku, founding VC (Vice Chancellor), University of Lagos; Dennis Osadebay, politician, journalist and Premier of then Mid-Western Region; Vice Admiral Edet Akinwale Wey, a former Chief of Naval Staff and later Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters; and, Dr. Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, late politician; all passed through Howad.

Interestingly, students also came from other parts of Nigeria. For instance: Otunba Adeniran Ogunsanya, a former Commissioner of Education, Lagos State; was a product of Howad. Similarly, another Lagosian, Chief Torch Taire, art collector extraordinaire and MD of Stanley Torch Limited also attended HWTI.

Howad is, indeed, unique in many respects. Howad was the first secondary school in the entire area that made up the now-defunct Eastern Region; namely: The States of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers. Although HWTI is believed to be among the five oldest secondary schools in Nigeria, the Calabar-based College is the only one still standing on its original grounds with several ancient structures extant.

Howad is also unique because it was on its premises two games, football and cricket, were first played in Nigeria. The latter, was first played in Nigeria in 1903, while first football game in Nigeria took place within HWTI compound a year earlier; in 1902.

“After Reverend Thompson, the founding Principal; his immediate successor, Reverend Luke, was the man who brought the game of football to Nigeria. Football came to Nigeria in 1902 and a year after, Mr. F.A. Foster, a West Indian, brought the game of cricket to Calabar in 1903. Although most of you may not know this, the first game of football to be played in Nigeria took place on Hope Waddell grounds in Calabar. In fact, until the 1930s, football was commonly referred to as ‘Calabar Game’ by Nigerians in other parts of this country”; Pa Efiong Ukpong Aye, a one-time student and later two-time principal of HWTI, told me during a 2010 interview.

Some of these and other facts are laid bare in Hope Waddell Training Institution: Life and Work, 1894-1978, a volume published in 1986 by Messrs Paico Limited Press and Books. Chief Aye (now deceased) is author of this book.

Furthermore, although Nigeria’s first-ever newspaper, Iwe Irohin, was published in 1859 by Henry Townsed, another famous missionary in Abeokuta, capital of today’s Ogun State in the country’s south-western parts; the first English language newspaper ever printed in Nigeria, Calabar Observer, was launched by Hope Waddell in 1903. Interestingly, the printing machine that used to roll off Calabar Observer can be viewed at HWTI.

In an exclusive chat with mauricearchibongtravels, Mr. Adedayo reminded that his department has two publications, one of which lists the 65 Declared National Monuments. The second volume, he added, is a collection of proposed National Monuments. The latter originally comprised 24 sites but these have been reviewed upwards to 100, in view of Nigeria’s forthcoming centenary celebrations.

Interestingly, Hope waddell Training Institution, Calabar, CMS Grammar School and Kings’ College, both in Lagos; Queens’ College, Ilorin; and, the First Primary School in Northern Nigeria in Lokoja; are among other institutions in this revised list.

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