Tuesday 19 May 2009

Childhood: The pupils of Corona School, Shamrock House, Bukuru, Jos

Memory jolts on safari
Somehow, I have never really finished writing about my childhood as it revolves around my schooldays and the experiences I had growing up.
However, as I think about those days the memories become more keen and reinforced, like for instance, I was on a jeep safari into the arid region of South-Eastern Gran Canaria and these jeeps were really Land Rovers – not the posh kind but the rough terrain ones that look like they could take a real road beating when it appears there is no road.
Each jolt was a reminder of the Land Rover that was our school bus that picked us up each morning and dropped us back at home each afternoon. Basically, Land Rovers were the vehicle of choice for mining companies and one was given over for a school bus.
However, the more important part of this blog is to bring together the additional information I have been able to collect about my school from comments left by others who attended the same school – I could not  forever leave them languishing in the comments areas when what they had to say was quite pertinent.
Many relocations of Corona School
I first attended the Army Children’s School in Kaduna for just under a year and then we moved to Jos, in the then Benue-Plateau State, from my reports, it appears I jumped the second year and started in Class 3 – the assessments must have qualified me for that jump considering I was a year below the class average.
It was Corona School at Shamrock House in Bukuru, we lived in Rayfield some 6 miles or 8 kilometres away.
Joe Miner who left a comment in October 2008 said he first attended Corona School at Miango Road before it moved to Shamrock House and then he was transferred to Hillcrest School which then was the top school in Jos.
Julie Sanda in May 2009 goes on to say she even attended Corona School before it relocated to Miango Road, when it was at Beach Road – these are pieces of information I never knew.
Relationships between their stories
Armstrong who seemed to be a popular sportsman at school attended Corona School some 8 or so years after I left the school he left a comment in August 2008 – I left Corona School in 1975 when we moved back to Kaduna.
An anonymous writer attended Corona School slightly later than I did and then moved to Hillcrest School when a place opened up for her in Class 3.
The stories are so intertwined as Armstrong lost his parents in a car accident and Joe Miner remembers that accident that involved a family, apparently, they were on their way to Kano Airport which was the international airport in the North of Nigeria – Armstrong happens to be Filipino.
More uncannily, Armstrong’s father was a maintenance engineer at Microwave Associates, Joe Miner is now the Managing Director and CEO of Microwave Associates still based at the same address on Bukuru Bye Pass.
Teaching the memory
Julie Sandy remembers the Dent-Youngs, Mrs. Dent-Young was the headmistress when I was there, and her husband was the Chairman of the Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria where my father was the Deputy Chief Accountant.
I do also remember Mrs. Uku, though she was never my teacher, the teacher I most remember was Mrs. Onyemenam who taught me in Class 5, then Mrs. Obole who was the school disciplinarian and Mrs. Agbelusi who became a family friend, I wonder if her story requires a blog on its own.
Only memories remain
We all remember Yelwa Club which used to be the watering hole of all the expatriates, the company executives and their kids, apparently, according to the Anonymous comment, a Philistine named Joshua Dariye – a one time inveterate governor of Plateau State – erected high walls round the club and replaced the colonial style windows with aluminium ones.
Rayfield, that idyllic place where we lived with large expanses of grazing land, orchards and bliss has become a completely built-up area, I suppose all one can say is all these would only be memories never to be relived again but in the recollections gathered together as comments in blogs that reference those people, events, places and ideas.
I want to thank, Armstrong, Joe Miner, Julie Sanda and the anonymous commenter for sharing their memories and corroborating my recollections, their comments with my editions in parenthesis [] appear below.
The Childhood blogs
The comments in the order they appeared on my blogs
1. ARMSTRONG left...
Friday, 8 August 2008 2:48 pm
Greetings to you Mr. Akin,
It’s nice to know that you were also a student in Corona School, Jos, Plateau State.
I was very impressed in how you described your past memories & past experiences of our School and very happy to know that I am not the only one who recalls these wonderful events that had happened to our lives.
I said this because, I was there also, but you were there ahead of me. My time was during [the regime of] President. Shagari in the early 80s' [1979 to 1983], but he was overthrown [in a] Coup D’├ętat led by Major General Babangida [In fact, this coup was lead by Lt. General Muhammadu Buhari, the Babangida coup was years later] and that's when the military rule begun until we left Nigeria.
Of course who could forget that wonderful places, there was the Club House [Yelwa Club] just nearby where Mohammed Isa & I used to hang out and watch the British, German, Dutch and some Filipinos like me playing Snooker or Darts while they were drinking or holding a bottle of Rock.
And yes one of my favourite places was the Swimming Pool, just a walking distance away. I remember it well; Mohammed and I, together with other expatriate friends used to swim there once a month or if there was time.
And just a stone’s throw away, there was the Multi-Purpose Theatre Hall and guess what? It was time for the annual Festival of all Nationalities in Jos, to perform their own folk dance and songs.
I was one of the chosen dancers to represent my Country, at first I felt weird and uneasy, but I did it just fine!
Actually, I was a Break Dancer then; my moves were hand spin & back spin, but not anymore now.
I was one of the Varsity players for the Basketball team, though I'm not that tall but our head coach, actually she was a lady. She saw my talent and skills and put me in as a centre forward and of course we won.
Everyone was very happy in the school that day; they were shouting 'ARMSTRONG','ARMSTRONG'! Of course I was very happy and proud to bring glory to our school.
One event that I can't really forget is when our Headmistress accused me [about something] which I did not do at all. She put it in writing and on the record. Yes, I have a school record not only as a student and Varsity player, but also a record of Chasing GIRLS.
Was it my fault for being popular and with good looks? Actually she was very strict Mrs. Opara (British National) [I cannot remember this name], but she overlooked the situation and jumped into a one-sided conclusion, she didn't even bother to ask me of what really happened.
Is it because one of them was her niece, anyway it’s no big deal for me. [This interesting because perceived injustices meted out to us in childhood have a way of reappearing as milestones in memory, I have one pertaining to my secondary school.]
My father was an Engineer and he worked as a Maintenance Manager at Microwave Associates [located at] 26 Bukuru Bye-Pass Road. Sad to say my parents died in Nigeria, we met in a car accident on the way to Kano Airport.
Thanks for the opportunity for sharing my happy memories and sad moment on your site, I hope you like it and find it interesting. [I do find your story and memories interesting, thank you too for sharing, I am also saddened about your loss, but you seem to have turned out fine. My kindest regards.]
2. Joe Miner left...
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 6:44 pm
Hi guys,
Nice to read all these nostalgic stories. Jos has become a big town now. I was at Corona when it started off at Miango junction before it went on to Shamrock [House] and I moved on to Hillcrest [School].
I think we can all make Jos a much better place by insisting on certain economic and political values. We have had a riot that almost tore our peace to pieces, but we thank God it didn't. We must insist on peaceful co-existence and good neighbourliness.
For Armstrong, I didn't get your last name, and I would like to. I am currently MD/CEO of Microwave Associates, and we are still at 26 Bukuru By-Pass.
I remember many years back when a family was sadly involved in a motor accident on the Kano Road. I was in secondary school then. If they were your parents, you have my deepest regrets. Do keep in touch.
My email: address supplied
Enjoy yourselves my friends! [How uncanny, history and contemporary events wrapped up in a comment that is quite far reaching. Thank you, Joe Miner.]
3. anonymous left...
Monday, 16 February 2009 2:44 pm
Hey Akin
Haven’t read your blog in over a year, [was] bored in my office, surfing different sites. I decided to see what you've written since I was a frequent visitor, - When I notice your Corona School, Jos blog, and I [thought], 'I KNEW he was good peeps' [Don’t understand this phrase, but will leave it as is, must be some contemporary parlance].
I grew up in Jos too, a little later than you, I am a little younger (40,'young-ha ha), and I too have really fond memories of growing up there. My mum still lives there and we take our kids quite often - we live in Abuja.
Jos in the 70's and even the80's was a magical place, do you remember the squirrels outside at Corona [School]? [Not too vividly, but I do remember that we saw a few squirrels] I went there briefly, about a month before a place opened up for me at Hillcrest [School] in the 3rd grade [Hillcrest School used an American educational system, Corona School was more British orientated.].
I have such fond memories of Yelwa Club, mummy was a member of the Horticultural Society and flower shows were a huge part of our growing up [Never attended any of those but I remember more the Guy Fawkes Day bonfires that club arranged.].
I remember the theatre and the lovely wooden floors, the backstage dressing rooms which we thought were haunted and the pool – the deep pool – I must add, it was 13 feet at the deep end.
By the time I was a junior at hillcrest, we had our prom there, in the restaurant, not the auditorium, our theme was Mexican and I think my loathing for “quanta la mera” [It is really Guantanamera and it is Cuban, meaning the girl from Guantanamo, amazing.] began there, our pseudo Mexican band played it over and over and (you get the picture).
I left Jos at 18 - went to the US, and finally find myself, 40 years young, living in Abuja with my husband and our brood.
I don’t know if I should tell you what became of Yelwa Club or leave it an unspoiled memory in your head. Actually I will – two words – Joshua Dariye; the former and disgraced governor of Plateau State.
The first thing he did was erect a high wall around it, probably to stop us from seeing the ALUMINIUM WINDOWS he replaced the gorgeous old colonial ones with. Should I go on? No, I won’t, I’m lazy and I’m over it. This is the face of the new Nigeria
[How poignant, the memories we have of a post-colonial Nigeria long past when we fully took control of things and allowed the legacies to deteriorate. Thank you for sharing your fond memories, seems I’ll never know who you are.]
4. Julie Sanda left...
Thursday, 14 May 2009 1:13 am
Sitting alone in my hotel room on a work-related trip, I got nostalgic, I remembered my teachers in primary school - Mrs Mcphee, her daughter (Murray?) Mrs Uku, etc.
I remembered the Dent-Youngs, the Holticultural Society etc. etc., and decided to do a search for the Women’s Corona Society, and that's how I got to your blog – fantastic piece!
You won't recognise Rayfield now, the idyllic fields are almost all gone – Rayfield is FULLY built-up, there's hardly any demarcation between that area and Du [I cannot recollect where Du might be.].
What got me really excited was your recollection of school kids lining up the road by that railway crossing, waving Nigerian flags as the Head of State, 'Uncle Jack' would drive by in his convoy .[Indeed a shared experience, Yabubu Gowon was the Head of State of Nigeria from 1967 to 1975, he was an indigene of Pankshin, I think, anytime Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo visited, they both went to his village.]
I was in Corona [School] too, started from Beach Road, moved to Miango Road junction and finally to Shamrock House in Bukuru.
Yelwa Club as you have been informed is gone, FOREVER. Foley theatre is no more (I know 'Muhammadu theatre' squirmed in his grave as it was being 'remodelled').
Thanks for sharing your memories. [Thanks for taking the time to share yours too, the story evolves as we get together the full story and timeline of all those who attended Corona School, Bukuru, Jos.]
[There was no way I could leave all these memories stuck in the comments section, so, we have a blog of comments and somehow it shows how recollections in blogs can lead to more corroborative participation by those who have shared similar experiences.
There is more to write about my childhood, it was eventful as a decade, with its years, its months, its weeks, its days, its hours, maybe minutes and one can still savour every second.]


guest said...

WOW Today I googled the Yelwa  pool from curiosity and symbled on your blog and was brough back in time.  I also was there much later (1983) through my father who was a microwave engineer (Jay Clark) I was as student with Ms. Opara as headmistress... thank you for your blog I will continue to read your posts

Bubbels28 said...

wauw amazing reading al those mememories.
I remeber coraona school and hilcrest to. We used to live near the corona school. My best memory is the chopones this woman used to selle near the school. We loved them. Cost 1 naira.
Most my memories are about the food i loved the nigerian foods.
Miss Nigeria loads.
beeing born there and growing up there it will for ever be in my heart.

Brenda gelul

Mariannegeluk said...

so cool,i grew up there too.corona school then hilcrest.I remember the swimming pool .we used to go to the club loads of with my parents and we ate pep&chicken.with all the other people.
So many cool memories,still miss it.

Anonymous said...

I came across this super blog. No idea if it’s still reviewed, my name is William Gardner, my parents, Jim and Ina. Just to say to say I have strong memories of my time at Shamrock School in Bukuru. My parents were from Edinburgh, Scotland and my father worked in tin mining( ATMN) . Previously served with the West African Forces during the Second World War. He was in the British Royal Engineers and was in Kaduna and Maidugri in 1943 before the brigade was sent to Burma until 1946. My father and mother then went to Jos in 1947. I was born there, lived in Sabin Gida ( Bukuru), Harwell houses ( near Rayfield) and a few other places nearby. I remember going to Shamrock School when I was 5 in 1962. My teacher was Miss Emby, then Miss Thorogood, and my last teacher I can’t remember her name. Yes, I remember Yelwa club, snooker, pool, Sunday curry lunch, theatre also used for Badmington. I was sent back to Scotland in 1967 and went to private school and came out to Jos twice a year. Really loved in being on so many airplanes! I remember the leaders of ATMN and their kids. Great adventure. Mum and Dad retired in 1974.

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