CKC 'Old Boys' Move to Save College

CKC 'Old Boys' Move to Save College
By Bayo Adeleke

Thisday

16/11/2004


Founded in 1933 by the Roman Catholic Church, Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha prides itself as one of the best secondary schools in Nigeria. It had over the years maintained extremely high standards in academics, sports and ethics. Little wonder that the school is proud of its products who are all over the place, excelling in their chosen professions. But the tale of the school that produced the likes of Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (rtd), Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State, Dr. Philip Emeagwali, Professor Pat Utomi, Senator Michael Ajegbo and a host of others is not different from other notable schools in the country where facilities are decaying and instructional aids disappearing.

No doubt the situations in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the country call for concerted efforts, if those schools are to regain their lost glories.  After erecting a multi-purpose Hall worth N30 million, the Lagos State Branch of CKC's old boy's association could still not take its eyes away from the decaying facilities and sundry problems in the school. They have therefore slated next Friday, April 30, for the

launching of a N200 million endowment fund to rescue the "goose that had laid the golden eggs." The ceremony is scheduled to hold a the school's multi-purpose Hall in Onitsha, Anambra State. President, Lagos State Branch Chief Joe B. Ekwunife says they are calling on all friends of the 'boys' within and outside the country to help raise the fund. With pain in his voice, he told THISDAY, "you we weep for CKC when you go there. It is not the same CKC of old, students sit on bare floor. There are dilapidated facilities everywhere. The situation truly needs urgent attention."

Worried about the fall in standard, lack of moral and ethical values and the dampened morale of members of staff, Ekwunife retorted, " After the war and perhaps as one of the consequences of that war, government took the most unfortunate decision to take over schools from the missionaries." The take-over, according to him marked the beginning of a drastic fall in standards of all educational institutions in the country.  He said the funds raised will be used for rehabilitation, provision of scholarship for brilliant students, as well as rendering help to the less privileged in the society. While advising government to provide enabling environment for the sectorr to thrive, he argued that government has no business in running schools.  He challenged government to be sincere about the state of public schools and stop pretending that education is free.

According to him, private schools are doing better than public schools because students are paying and their teachers well remunerated as at when due.  He expressed gratitude to the Anambra state government for identifying with what the old boys of CKC are doing and praised it for the return of schools to the missionaries.  In a seperate interview, Chairman, Project Committee, Chief Emma Udedike said the school needs complete rehabilitation and that the old boys are committing time and energy to garner support to raise N200million to executive some of the projects they deem useful to the present and future generations of students of the school.

"We believe that education is the best legacy to bequeath to one's children and because of what the school had done for us we want posterity to judge us right," Udedike said.  Recounting the good old days in the college, the chairman stressed that lack of discipline and decay in values account for the numerous vices in the society.  "Even if you were one of the brilliant students then in CKC and failed in moral knowledge you had to repeat the class. If you failed again the following year you were dropped," he stated.

Udedike noted that government's effort is not sufficient to counter the decay in schools, due to other commitments.  He therefore advised it to concentrate on setting standards to be met and then subsidise private individuals and organisations that are willing to commit their resources for better output.  The old boys' association has also promised to improve the welfare of the teachers in the college, so they can be more committed to the students in their care. He enjoined the present crop of students to adhere strictly to the school's motto: 'Bonitas Disciplina Scientia' for their future development and that of the society.



 THE PUNCH, Tuesday June 06, 2006

 

Six Nigerian students for world maths competition


Onyedi Ojiabor, Abuja

Six Nigerian secondary school students, including a female, are to represent the country at the 2006 International Mathematical Olympiad in Slovenia.

This is the first time since the inception of the competition in 1959 that Nigeria will be represented.

The Director General of the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, Professor Sam Ale, said the students were selected after a series of examinations conducted by the body.

The DG said the students would be sent to Turkey to receive one week tutorial, after which they would proceed to Slovenia for the competition.

He said the NMC and the Nigerian Turkish International College were working hard to ensure that a Nigerian participant emerged tops at the event

Ale said there was no doubt that students from the country had the potentials to spring surprises at the world event.

Four of the students, Uchendu Ndubuisi, Muazzam Idris, Segun Arivibi, Omole Oluwakayode, are students of NTIC, Abuja.

Another, Ekwue Winner, is a student of Christ the King College, Onitsha, while the only female among the participants, Adetuyi Olukoyo, is a student of Regina Pacis Girls' Secondary School, Abuja.






 Seeing Casey: The CKC Experience As Narrated By the Daughter of An Alumnus

By Amaka Uzoh

 

 

Until recently, I never fully understood the significance of these “See-Casey” meetings but I could always detect the air of importance the minute I walked in the meeting room. It seemed like no matter how many people attended, there was always a seat for them, and if not a seat, at least a place. Some dressed casually in sandals and polos shirts, while others were more formal, decked in suits and freshly shined shoes; nonetheless, they were all dressed for business. I could just tell. This Casey man must be great, I thought to myself.

 

 My father would greet his comrades with the notorious “slap-click-snap” handshake in his right hand and point us to vacant seats in some corner of the room with his free one. We would then head over there like the obedient children that we were. No, actually we trudged over there rather clumsily, bumping into no less than 6 sets of knees on the lodged route to our seats. We overheard him call out to a man, saying Primus, and to another he called Oga! And then to another he yelled “Chee-airmannn!” (I soon began to wonder why every man in attendance had one of those three strange names) It was only after greeting them that he sat down to hear this man called Casey. Of course “Casey” is the man with the microphone in the front of the room, right? That’s why we are at the meeting. We came to see Casey.

 

 

We were veteran attendees so my sister and I knew exactly how to behave. We knew not to whisper too loudly, itch a summer’s worth of fresh mosquito bites too earnestly, move around too much, or even to breathe too audibly. The sense of distinction and sophistication was so thick that we could practically spread it on toast with a knife, and we wanted to have no part in disturbing it lest we be tsked at or have eyes narrowed at us. Inevitably, we would begin to get bored after about 12 or so minutes—that is until I would spy the brochure on a nearby table--the ever famous Amaka Gazette. Of course this immediately caught my attention. I could never get over how great it was for them to name brochure after ME.  It never failed to make me feel like the guest of honor (It wasn’t until years later that I learned that the “Amaka Boys” was actually a nickname for students who were not in fact my namesake). My sister and I would revel over the glossy portraits within the pages and gasp in awe, when we saw a familiar face. “Whooooa!! How did Uncle Uche get into this magazine?” I once exclaimed. Until then, we had thought that only famous people had to honor of gracing magazine pages and if he was famous that means that we’re famous too?

 

The magazine could captivate our attentions for only so long and eventually, we resorted to the most silent form of entertainment known to bored little children that didn’t involve pinching one another. I’ll call it “The Counting Game.” Hmmm how many people are wearing ties? One…two…three…four—four!! No five! Okay now, how many people are wearing glasses? Eighteen!! After a while, the game evolved into “How many people had bald spots?” and usually terminated by the time the question got to “How many people do you suppose are wearing caps to disguise their bald spots? Hmmm I think 9…yes 9 people are. Yes, it usually did.

 

It wasn’t until I visited Nigeria in December 2005 and finally saw the Onitsha high school that I sincerely comprehended that the annual CKC meeting was more than just an excuse for my family members to pile into the car and drive somewhere really really really far away. It was more than another opportunity for dozens of aunties and uncles dressed in brightly colored matching lace-sets to pinch my cheeks (even when they still had grease from the fried goat on their fingers! Eeek!!), tell me how tall I was getting, then ask me if I remembered who they were. I always cleverly responded, “Of courrrsse I do, Auntie. How could I forget youuu, Auntie??” (Mind you, I rarely actually did know any of their first names…).

 

 Before I continue, I must clear one thing up-- Christ the King College isn’t actually a college, it’s a high school. Okay good, we’re on the same page now. From the stories I’ve heard, it was quite posh in its day—in fact it was considered the most renowned school in the state of Anambra (though other argue the most renowned in Nigeria, and STILL other claim that it was the best school in all of Africa) Anyway, it admitted only the most talented, motivated, and distinguished young boys to be molded into prominent, successful, and righteous leaders. Quite frankly, it was the place to be. I mean if you went there, you were pretty much entitled walk to with a pretentious swagger.

 

Built by Irish priests in the first half of the 20th century, its prestige and nobility has been maintained and sustained by a remarkably auspicious and committed group of alumni who hold annual meetings in an attempt perpetuate the legacy of the great school community. The Alumni Association is like a fraternity (that doesn’t exclude girls) in which the members are bonded by their high value for excellence and progress. Before I actually saw the school, I imagined it to be a magnificent castle-like boarding school out of Harry Potter where everyone mysteriously had the same penmanship, and either played soccer extraordinarily, was related to someone who did, or at least pretended that they were friends with someone like that. Naturally, I was looking forward to seeing the legendary school renowned for the amazing doctors, lawyers, diplomats, scientists, orators, engineers, and professors but more importantly outstanding thinkers that it had produced. It was like one huge fraternity that accepted girls. The members of the association are bonded by their values of excellence and most importantly progress.

 

Ummm I know that this is not what most people like to hear about their beloved school but, I was not impressed.  Basically, the school fell far short of my expectations. Really short. The buildings looked rundown and eerie in the sea of red sand, while the schoolyard was littered with what seemed to be hundreds of empty plastic “pure water” sachets. It just looked ordinary, and that upset me. It looked ordinary, lifeless, and pitiful. I know I’m not the only one in my family who was extremely disappointed.

 

Me! Of all people, an American child who never even attended a single class there! I mean if I was so disappointed with it, I wonder how the alumni would feel when they see what the school had been reduced to. It’s so easy for the alumni in diaspora to reminisce about their fantastic adventures over there but it must be heartrending for them to go back and to see what has become of a place which they hold sacred. After seeing the school in Onitsha, I realized what motivated the alumni’s association’s service and came to respect it.

 

One thing that has really touched me about the school is the stories that have been born behind the walls. These stories have an enchanting and mystical quality because they have the tendency to bring the place to life. Two things I’ve learned over the years is that Nigerian people love to talk, sometimes too loudly and sometimes too much. The upside about this cultural quality is that it aids in the facilitation of oral tradition. Often, these tales are didactic in nature. I know I’m not the only Igbo child who has seen their parents’ eyes glaze and a smile play upon their face when one of their parents begins to recount a tale after reprimanding them. “Don’t complain about having to walk to the bus stop in the snow. When I was your age, we had wake up at 3 AM to cross two great rivers to get to school. And in rainy season we didn’t even have rain-coat. We used banana leaves to protect our selves…there were crocodiles that would lurk waiting to eat us. I’m telling you many children lost their lives. Yes many, many…” Often, I want to interject something like “Hmmm Dad, I thought you said you woke up at 2 AM and crossed to the woods full of snakes?” Of course he’ll catch me quickly and say something like “Oh no, that was in primary 3 and 4. I’m talking about primary 1.”  After hearing the same story a dozen times, it takes all my willpower to resist the urge to roll my eyes when they tell it over again, a little differently every time.

 

 All the stories I heard about Father Tagbo’s rules and how the family scraped to put up “school fees” and this great soccer team that went to Dublin, and so on and so on brings  the place to life. I think it would be really cool if someone could compile these stories into a book of memoirs and give the book a catchy name. I suggest that the word “Amaka” should be somewhere in the title (mostly because it’s my name and I wouldn’t mind seeing my name somewhere on the New York Times Bestseller List) but also because “Amaka Boys” is a proud and inclusive nickname associated with the students that almost all regard with pride and warmth. I know that more than enough people would be willing to contribute tales and like I said earlier, Nigerian people and talking are essentially synonymous. Perhaps, profit from this book could go towards improving the school. Personally, I think it would be a prodigious endeavor.

 

 I know that there are thousands of tales hidden within the walls of Christ the King College in Onitsha; it’s as if a piece of each student is preserved there. My grandfather graduated in the pioneer class of 1933 and my father followed in his footsteps as a member of the class of 1971. Since I have their blood, I guess that means that means that there is a piece of me in CKC. Logically, that would suggest that there is a piece of CKC in me, correct?

 

 

 Amaka Cypriana Uzoh is 16 years old and just completed her junior year at Saint Francis High School, Mountain View CA. She maintains a 4.1 GPA and is the President of the National Honor Society, the Student Athletic Trainer for the football team, and also a 3-year Varsity Track and Field Athlete. Outside of school, she dances with the Ezinwanne Cultural Dance Troupe (which she founded in 2003) and is the Secretary of the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chapter of the NAACP Youth Council. When she is older, she plans to be a pediatrician. She is the second daughter of Cyprian Emeka Uzoh, c/o 1971, and resides in San Jose, CA with her parents and two sisters.

 


 Fact or Fiction

How Johnny Skeese of CKC Made Honda Famous In Onitsha

By Oseloka Obaze

The year was 1962. Post independent Nigeria was still agog, vibrant and hopeful.  Every enterprise thieved.  And national patriotism was a new fad and at a new high.  Nigerian’s general went about their business, each eager and proud to be the best in his or her trade.

The civil servants were at their best in their white starched shirts and ties, which mimicked and mocked the departing British masters.  Most were gradually insinuating themselves into the whiteman’s ways – GRA residences, siesta, membership of the sports clubs and drinking afternoon tea. That these were elitist colonialist tendencies did not seem to matter.  Likewise, the London-trained Nigerian lawyers were also at their best, donning their white-frilled collared shirts and their wig and gowns- despite the stultifying heat on Nigeria.

In the various markets Nigerian traders carried on with aplomb. This war true in Bodija  Market, Igbanke Market, the Ogbete Market,, The  Tejuoso Market,  the Kano central Market and the Out and Ochanja markets in Onitsha.  Onitsha was reputed of having the biggest open market in Africa. And a popular local musician had added to the fame with a hit song, which declared that Onitsha was predominated by Ndi afia -- the market people.

Onitsha was also acclaimed for having two of the best schools on the country – Christ the King College, or C.KC – a Catholic high school and Dennis Memorial Grammar School or D.M.G.S. an Anglican high school.  Naturally, both schools were steeped in deep academic and sport rivalry, which also had a deep religious fervor and undertone. Since the only professional soccer team in Onitsha, the “Red Devils” had relocated to sport Harcourt with their founder, CKC and DMGS provided the Onitsha traders the only sporting entertainment in town. Again support for any such sports competition split the traders in the town along religious lines.

The educated, rich and eminent people in Onitsha were few. The civil servants had good standing in the community but were hardly considered rich or well to do. Some traders, we rich, but were largely illiterate and therefore, not deemed the cream of the society.  The crème de la crème of Onitsha were mostly Judges, lawyers and doctors. And like most things in Onitsha, they were mostly either product of CKC or DMGS.  They were visible since the tooled around in their long American Cadillac or Pontiac convertibles. Such cars were then marks of affluence and one’s standing in the security.   These men  also had name recognition.

Mr Nkenobi, who owned the biggest Chemist in on new Market Road was a DMGS old boys as was Dr. David Ekwulugo who, owned one of the major private hospitals.  Both had Pontiacs.  Dr. William Eze, who owned the Niger Hospital, Barrister Alex Mbanefo, who had the biggest Law Office, and Mr Areh, who had the biggest Pharmacists and Children’s Clinic, were all CKC old boys, and all drove Cadillacs.   The only three businessmen who owned either a Cadillac or Pontiacs in Onitsha were Alhaji Aliyu Usman, the leader of the Hausa Community, who owned a pink Cadillac, and Chief John Oduah, the six-foot four paramount ruler from the Ogbaru Town of Aliki-Ozizo. He was always dressed in resplendent Red regalia and drove around in Tomato red convertible Pontiac sedan. 

Aside from these men, most well do residents of Onitsha drove either a 403 Peugeot or and Opel record or Opel Caravan.  The clergy drove Volkswagen Beatle.  The other citizens of the town  were consigned to using public  transportation – either the Black Morris Minor taxi cabs nicknamed Oli Nwgongwo  or the ubiquitous kombi buses that charged tree pence for a drop, nicknamed ka obanye.  A majority of the traders in the Out and Ochanja market s rode around in Raleigh Bicycles. The more affluent ones bought the Sliver plated bicycles, which distinguished the men from the boys.

The transportation landscape in Onitsha changed in the Easter of 1962, in the month of April, when a stranger, an American rode like a cowboy, into Onitsha town, not on a horseback, but on a Japanese made motorbike named Honda.  Initially, it was not clear if Honda was the make of the motorbike, or it was the named given to it by the America.  The stranger was a huge, eternally suntanned, bohemian member of the American Peace Corps Volunteers deployed to Nigeria and most of African on the orders President John F. Kennedy.  A native Kentuckian, his name was Johnny Skeese (aka Johnny’s Crazy). 

Johnny Skeese was a teacher.  He had been assigned to teach Biology and Micro-Biology to the CKC- Sixth formers.  His arrival at the school, despite the distraction it caused, had been most welcomed by the Principal Reverend Father J. Fitzpatrick   C.K.C, was by reputation a school inclined to the Arts, and therefore, produced civil servants, lawyers, and teachers, and  people who went to Universities to read classics instead of the hard sciences. The rival school, D.M.G.S, in contrast was good in sciences and by that niche, was inclined to produce doctors, engineers and scientists.   Johnny Skeese, a young bachelor joined the Principal and another Priest, both Irish, as the only expatriates on the CKC staff. 

 Johnny Skeese had arrived in town with a shiny Tomato red machine a Honda 50, which was soon right dubbed one in Town – for it was the only Honda 50 in the metropolis.  As he familiarized himself with the town, he soon became ubiquitous and well-known. The fact that he always wore khaki shorts and shirt, and that he taught at C.K.C, added to his legend. But his legendary had more to do with his daredevil speed and maneuvers on his bike while streaming around the well-maintained streets on Onitsha. This was really how he earned his sobriquet -- Johnny’s Crazy.  School children and traders alike mobbed him wherever he went.  Everyone fancied his motorbike, which he never tied showing off. 

Soon, it was realized that Johnny Skeese gave to C.K.C and edged that D.M.G.S. did not have. He was a local icon – a C.K.C. icon.  To be young, hip and American in Onitsha was to aspire to be like Johnny Skeese.  Most late afternoons, just as the markets and stalls were closing, Johnny Skeese and a few other Europeans and some of his American compatriots, who worked either at the general Cotton Mills, CTO Records or for Dumez Construction company would be seen tooling around town.  CKC’s Johnny Skeese was always at the head of the pack as they streamed from Oguta Road down Old Market Road to Niger Drive then back up into town Zik Avenue through APZ plaza before ending up at NIDO Supermarket for either ice cream or a drink of Krola or Mirinda of beer.  At other times the bunch headed to the Sport club on Court road to play a game of Tennis or Billiard.    

The longer Johnny Skeese stayed in Onitsha and at C.K.C. the more popular he became and the attraction for his motorbike grew.  When in early 1963, he made it known that he wanted to sell his Honda 50 there was a deluge of request from Onitsha traders, each hoping to own the icon and perhaps become as popular as Johnny Skeese.  In the end, he sold it to an elegant and enterprising young trader, a high school dropout nicknamed “Mogambo”.   For himself, Johnny Skeese purchased a brand new 250 cc Honda, which the CKC student’s and Onitsha traders soon nicknamed “Chassis”.

 Johnny Skeese taught “Mogambo” how to ride his new bike. Soon, “Mogambo” was riding in the same pack with Skeese and the expatriates and hobnobbing with them at the Sports Club. Having made their acquaintanceship, “Mogambo” had also cornered the business of selling provisions from his store directly to the expatriate community in Onitsha, who had taught him the utility of home delivery.  In return, he spared them trip to the market and the endless.

On occasions, Johnny Skeese left town on long motorbike trips to places like Ghana, Upper Volta and Ivory Coast.  Such daring acts added to his renown and celebrity status. He would return with various stickers plaster4ed on the body of his bike.  One which read “WAN”, was said to mean that he was “Warranted Across Nigeria”   His mandarin nature and status also rubbed off on C.K.C.  students, especially those fortunate enough to hitch rides into town on Johnny Skeese’s machine.    Skeese’s  legend peaked who he added a loud sing-song hooting horn to his bike meant to forewarn heady and seemingly deaf Onitsha truck and wheel barrows pushers that his speeding bike pack was approaching them. He never counted on the reaction from the traders. When ever Johnny Skeese’s horn sounded, there would be a uniformed response of “Johnny’s Crazy” from all nook and corners of as men women and children rushed to their front yards to catch a glimpse of Johnny and his pack.  It was not long before several other traders began acquiring and kind of Honda machine they could buy no matter how old or rickety. The Honda fad introduced to Onitsha by C.K.C’s Johnny Skeese was on.

By the time Johnny Skeese’s tour of duty was up he had left an indelible mark on Onitsha. Owning and riding motorbike at breakneck speed was in vogue and acceptable.  He also left a behind a protégé “Mogambo”, who continued to ride with the pack and had introduced his one singsong horn to which the Onitsha inhabitant’s responded to with an ear shattering response of  “Mogambo”.

Two decades after Johnny Skeese left Onitsha his legend and heavy footprints remain. Today, there are more motor bikes in Onitsha than there are cars. Popularly known as “Okada”, these followers of Johnny Skeese ride with the same joyous abandon, albeit on dilapidated, pothole filled and ill-maintained streets.  Honda remains the motorbike of choice among most Onitsha bikers. One trademark they have all retained from the days’ of Johnny Skeese, is that they all still ride without helmets but never without their dark sunglasses – rain or shine [TAG]

P.S. –

The true biking story of Johnny Skeese by his friend and fellow peace copper by Jack Finlay appears on page XX. It was written in 2003, and published on htp://www.friendsofnigeria.org

 


Remembering The HONDA 50

By Jack Finlay (03) 61–64

(A member of the American Peace Corps Volunteers In Nigeria 1961-1964)

 

I never had one. The Honda 50 came after our time as volunteers. But we are connected, somehow, I think—if you can believe the following story. When Johnny Skeese (03) 61–64 and I returned from a year in Gabon in mid ’65, it seemed that practically every volunteer had one. We recall there were accidents—some even fatal, as we still remember a fallen comrade from those days. But the Honda 50 also provided a good deal of pleasure to volunteers of the 60’s. And we are certain that many of you have a story or two to tell about your Honda 50. Some of your as yet untold tales are no doubt humorous.

 

Following early accidents, we recall that Peace Corps Nigeria issued certain strict rules—one being that any volunteer caught riding his or her Honda 50 without a helmet would be sent home. Does anyone really know if any PCV was sent home for such an infraction? We do not, but we do know of one volunteer who had to use his Honda when there was no helmet on hand. As he told it, he went to the kitchen and obtained a metal pot which he placed over his head. He then drove the 15–20 km required of him at the time—in the hope that, in the event caught, his “effort” would be considered and leniency applied to this strict helmet rule. If the chap involved is “out there,” rest assured that at least this one of your stories is remembered.

 

But our story is perhaps linked to the origin of the Honda 50—or so we have come to think. Back to the beginning. When we—i.e. Nigeria (03)—arrived in December of 1961, Nigeria (01) was on hand at the Lagos airport to greet us. Remember—Nigeria One had gone to the country long before the rest of us. In fact, though Ghana (01) received all the attention (and White house sendoff), Nigeria (01), I believe, was the very first PCV group overseas! But, of course, they went there (after a couple months at Harvard) for continued pre-service training at the University of Nigeria at Ibadan. In the meantime, we started our stateside training at UCLA in August ’61.

 

Both Nigeria (01)and (03) began their PCV teaching assignments in January 1962. Nigeria (02)(University of Nigeria at Nsukka folks) was therefore the first PCV group to actually begin work in Nigeria having arrived for duty in the fall of ’61. In those days, there were no Honda 50s around. In fact, PC/Nigeria provided VW kombis for our transport. These were stationed at strategic locations and were to be used primarily for the collective shopping use of volunteers in the area. During much of our first year, Walter Barkas (03) 61–64 and I had one at Iddo-Ekiti. Before finding a house and moving there the second year, Walt used this kombi to commute the 22 km to his Aiyede-Ekiti secondary school and back each day. After that, it was good-bye to the kombi—PC/Ibadan retrieved it for region-wide use. But Johnny Skeese, who was teaching at Christ the King College (CKC) in Onitsha, had by this time purchased his own 250 cc Honda and, with his flaming red beard, was somewhat famous (notorious?) for tooling around that well known market town and other Eastern Region environs on this machine. Learning of this, I made my way down to Lagos and purchased my own Honda 305 cc Dream from the Leventis Bros. Thus began our plans to make an end of the first year (i.e. Dec ‘62/Jan ’63) motorcycle trip to Timbuktu. Aside from being a metaphor for “the end of the world,” this historic city in Mali had also been the successful destination of a trip taken by some of the Nigeria 02 folks from Nsukka (though that voyage in an automobile, I believe) during their summer vacation of ’62.

 

At the end of the 1962 school year, Johnny came over from Onitsha, and we were “off.” The general plan was to follow the coast to Abidjan, and then head north to the Malian desert. But social animals that we are (have any of you ever traveled anywhere with Johnny Skeese?), a considerable amount of our vacation time had already expired by the time we reached the Ivory Coast. (The country offices still ran PC rest houses in 1962 and lots of PCVs and other contacts were also stationed along the way). Already mid-January, we began heading north, with Johnny in the lead over the dusty dry-season roads.

 

Just 13 kms south of Bouake, I took a bad fall—breaking my right leg (a fact I would subsequently only learn on an X-ray). Realizing that I was missing, Johnny returned a few minutes later to find me all skinned and bleeding in the road. Naturally, his immediate ‘first-aid’ was to set up his tripod and say, “Let’s get a picture of this!” Though painful, no bones were displaced, so we tightened my boot and I followed him on into Bouake where we found Ivoirian PCV Marie Rice—who would become our guardian angel for the next few days. She and other PCVs there got me to a French doc who diagnosed my leg as broken and put it in a cast with a big walking metal spike at the bottom. PCVs there coined it my ‘Baoule’ cast.

 

We never made it to Timbuktu. But we did continue the trip, I by train to Ouagadougou and desert lorry across to Niamey, and Johnny on his Honda 250. Of course, the Ivory Coast Peace Corps paid my medical bills in Bouake (perhaps later reimbursed by Peace Corps Nigeria) and I had to return the following vacation break to retrieve my Honda Dream (a story for another time). But what does all this have to do with the Honda 50? Well, not long after this, it seems, the PC edict came down prohibiting the private purchase of vehicles while still in active PC service. PC Lambrettas at first appeared, then perhaps a few 50 cc Motoguccis. But it was the Honda 50 that would “stick” and become so associated with the Nigerian PCV! We have often wondered whether we had something to do with its Nigerian PC birth!

 

Postscript:
Following their PC service and a year at the Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon, Finlay and Skeese returned to the States where Jack started grad school and Johnny went to work for the Office of Economic Opportunity and later did grad work as part of a career in math and science high school teaching in Berea, KY where he still resides. Jack spent most of his career in international public health.

They have maintained their contact and friendship over the years, Johnny being best man when Jack and Teresita married in ‘67 and Jack doing the honors when Johnny and Carolyn married in ’68. They manage to get together every couple of years. The Finlays, who have a grown daughter and son, now divide their retired years between the US (Montana/Louisiana) and the Philippines (Palawan). Johnny claims he will finally retire this year; he and Carolyn have four sons (and three grandkids), also graduates of his beloved Berea College and the University of Kentuck.,

Source: http://www.friendsofnigeria.org


 

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