What’s in a name

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Memoirs, Political, Rant
Tags: , , ,

You know, when I finished from secondary school, all I wanted was to go to a mission university. They seemed ‘easy’ to me. If your parents could afford the exorbitant fees, you were as well as admitted. My dad would not hear of it. He finished from Sociology Department, University of Lagos and felt his first son must toe same lines. I was scared. In a world of scarce university slots, UNILAG’s was dog tears scarce. Considering that my family was (is) run as a fiefdom where obedience and rebellion are your only options, I accepted. There was (is) no middle ground for argument in the Tafa’s family.

I remember the first time I came for my post JAMB exams. I was overwhelmed to say the least. That was my first time in the grounds of the University of Lagos. I formed part of the human traffic of students who had come to write the Post UME examination, all of us with expectant faces hoping to be part of this Ivory Tower with tall buildings and immaculately kept grounds.  I stared intently at the Lagoon, tipped my head to view the peak of the Senate Building and envied the staylites who seemed to know everyone wherever they went

I finally got admission into this institution o! The day I was notified of my admission makes for some news too. I went to the Estate Gate to browse through the dailies. I had already struck a deal with the vendor to go through the pages of newspapers everyday for free. I promised him that the day UNILAG released her admission list, I would buy a copy from him. On the day that the list was released, I just looked at it, saw my name and took off with the paper screaming. I did not pay for the paper. Won’t you help me to thank God that the vendor did not pursue me screaming ‘Ole’.

I finished from the University of Lagos barely two years ago. Since then, I have gotten more aware of this institution. You see, this is not just an institution but a culture. It is not just a moniker but a brand.  UNILAG is not just a brand but a meta-brand, with various sub brands existing within it. It is not just a patch of land but a sacred spot of memories. Where I come from, no one shifts a sacred stone.

I admire the ease and boldness with which President Jonathan proceeded with the renaming. It shows that he is not shy to change the status quo (in a distorted way albeit). I would advice that Mr. President takes this stance to issues that really need to be changed like certain inept traditional stools and practices.

You see UNILAG is a school brimming with history, Wole Soyinka once lectured there, you know? It is not a national monument to be subjected to political shenanigans. I am an alumnus and I (like all well meaning alumni) oppose this change.

  1. Jemjem says:


  2. chinasa says:

    I vehemently oppose thhis. Our president perhaps has brought to the fore the fact that, he is myopic in his line of reasoning. He’s just a play thing in the hands oof some political musketeers. For me, I know just one federal university in lagos. Long live University of Lagos!

  3. phoenixrebel says:

    I sympathize with the entire UNILAG community; it must feel highly insulting to have one’s alma mater taken for granted, especially one with so much prestige attached.
    I however feel that the name cannot erase its epic history, nor will it alter its future. So, after the protests have taken place, the dust settles and (if) the name still remains, one must find alternate means of raising its “standard”.
    And if you think I don’t know what I’m saying, I do: I have a name which is pronounced incorrectly by 4 out of 5 persons. I’ve learned to live with so much name calling, but it hasn’t for once changed what I stand for (believe me: my standards are high!).

  4. Marcel @Hybern8 says:

    I sympathize with you. I really do. It’s not just a name but a Legend. GEJ did a good thing but at a bad location and time. He is fond of making this kind of mistakes.

    Now all that MKO stands for is being ridiculed by Nigerians world over and here. Just coz of a silly emotional mistake. The office of the presidency is not of emotions but of sound reasoning and strategic decision making.

    Of all things to address from the Nigerian issues, it os of Naming Ceremony of a pre-existing structure.

    If he wanted to be of help he would have commissioned another bridge in lagos in memory of MKO, even put in place the water ways transport and name it after MKO as well.

    I’m sorry for GEJ.

    But on a lighter note, ne glad that it wasn’t renamed to Dame Jonathan University. English would be an elective course.


  5. Oyeniyi says:

    Its so sadden that Mr. President is known for taking some irrational decisions without proper consultation with the parties involved. UNILAG has an institution is another victim of such. Although he had a good intention for the Hero of June 12 election, but on the otherhand tampered with the prestigy of the other. Obasanjo who was even the direct beneficial of the struggle never in a way attempted such. Repect to the dead and Long live UNILAG.

  6. Laguda Tinuke says:

    Lol..Very well said tafa!

  7. tope says:

    I subsequently agree with you,and understand your own point of view,but the fact is that even though the name has been changed ,it doesn’t change the university. Truth be told,the name of any person individual or organisation goes a long way,and so this could be the problem at hand ,but the school still remains the same .Besides the fact that the name UNILAG carries a lot of memories.

  8. Lmao! @ Marcel’s comment! Oh my days!!!!

    Mehn, we got a presiDENSE! Sad but true 😦

    Tafa, take heart you hear? God will punish all enemies of UNILAG. May they be mauled by a gay antelope!

  9. tumi says:

    I think GEJ was careless in making this decision, that being said, its a name change and its not worth this uproar..I wish this piece was about how you had to be trained again after you left school, because UNILAG or MAUL is presently useless to d present day reality of Nigeria

  10. Oluwaseun says:

    pretty well said osisiye. 🙂 renaming the university should not even be the least of problems for FG cuz its not even on the list in the first place. typical example of trouble dey sleep; yanga dey wake am.

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