Harvest Time For The High Chief

I had my first encounter with him in 1976. That was after dropping my pen for the entrance examinations as one of the pioneer students of Ilare Community High School, when he addressed all of us the candidates who sat for the examination in the premises of Methodist Primary School, Ilare - Ijesa.
And there stood before us a tall gangling man in his late thirties or early fourties, who would have passed for a European or American because of his high volatile light complexion. Even his eyes were greyish blue to compliment the likeness. Yet he wasn't an albino. But every inch very light complexioned.
But what gave him away as an African, nay a Nigerian were his hairs. They were not curly like the typical 'oyinbo' hair, yet they still pick the colour of his skin. Not altogether black but somehow yellowish.
Chief Lejofi of Ipetu - Ijesa. More of second command to the king
High Chief Ayo Olayinka: Receiving his well
deserved, even long overdue award
There he stood before us, full of excitement because that will be his first shot on the job as a school principal. And to a newly established community school he was posted to start building from the scratch. What a challenge!
A challenge he took with uttermost gusto and zeal, as the motto of the school is "The Utmost For The Highest"
Address all examination candidates at the centre he did. And one statement I picked from the concluding part of the address of this man who is somewhat positive and optimistic to a fault was; for all of us who came to sit for this entrance examinations, we should all count ourselves lucky. Whoever now pass the examination and qualified for an interview should count himself luckier, and any of us who finally made the interview and get admitted should count himself luckiest.
Owa - LARE: Ilare paramount ruler arriving for
The Event in style amidst full blare music
So all of us that evening were lucky.
Others and I were counted luckier as we passed the entrance examination and qualified to face the interview panel. An interview panel consisting of this African 'Oyinbo' man, the erudite educationists and staunch Ilare patriot - baba Fatimilehin, the father of one of the founders and principal partners of Diya Fatimilehin & co., and another seasoned educationists I can't figure out the face again.
Again others and I became finally the luckiest first set of 120 students to be admitted to Ilare Community High School in September 1976.
For someone to pass through the screening lenses of this greysh blue eyed 'Oyinbo' and no nonsense baba Fatimilehin, he must be one of the luckiest indeed.
High Chief Ayo Olayinka and wife
at the high table
The utmost indeed, for the highest
And on a rascally note, I was even the more luckier than the luckiest. Because this admission saved me from the wrath of my hitherto Secondary Modern School Headmaster in Esa - Odo, Mr Sunday Onikanni, who had soaked my cane in petrol for a 'capital' offence of playing the truant during school hours. Because school just resumed for another session that same September and classes were yet to be in full gear, we sneaked out of school to go to town. And on our way out, we met him around a bend! Red handed he caught us, pro bono!
Of course, like rats suddenly face to face with a cat, we all scampered for safety in different directions into a nearby bush! But to make matters worse, in our attempt to escape, I was one of those he identified and he kept practically shouting out my name out of the bunch of escapees!
And now Ilare final admission result is out and I was among the luckiest........ With my tongue out at him, I simply absconded from his school that early first term in my Year 2, as it was called then, never to show up again! Or of what use again?
After Ilare Community High School was declared open with all pomp and peagentry by the then old Oyo State Commisioner for Education - Professor Mrs Bolanle Awe, then did Ayo Olayinka picked up the gauntlet.
A well wisher felicitating with
High Chief Ayo Olayinka
Even the gauntlet of not just educating but raising giants out of students consting of 80% rustic rural 'bush' boys and girls. Diluted with a few 20% city boys who came all the way from Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta even from far away Kaduna. Because I learnt the likes of Soladoye, Segun Ilesanmi, and Sunday Abe came all the way from Kaduna. Biodun Ayegbusi, Charles Ireroa, and others came from Lagos, the likes of Femi Ogunlade, two brothers from the same father Sikiru and Bashiru Olanrewaju and others came from Ibadan axis. I would rather let sleeping dogs lie, and not relate here the gramatical drama of the day Sikiru and Bashiru's father came visiting his sons in school!
So began this herculean task for Chief Ayo Olayinka, who was joined by Mr Babatayo as the vice principal.
On resumption day we were handed over to Mr Folorunso Oyedele our first school teacher, who we later learnt to address as 'Master'
Some guests at the birthday bash
1977, came another set of students, the likes of Ayokunle Olaoye, Professor Bukola Oyawoye and others were admitted to form 1, while we the first set students moved to form 2. Where again another set of students, the likes of Auntie Iyabo Lamidi, Amos Ajayi and others joined us in form 2. Over the years as new students came in, the 'troubles' continue to increase for High Chief Ayo Olayinka as the task gets more herculean. Managing, educating and disciplining a bunch of students of mixed backgrounds - rural and urban. Some of them enfant terribles when it come truancy, rascality and youthful exuberant pranks.
But Chief Olayinka proved himself to be up to the task. He was always on top of the situation. Just like the proverb that say "a child that say his mother will not sleep, he too will not have a taste of sleep" High Chief Ayo Olayinka ensured that as many as will not let him rest, there won't be rest for them until they do what he wants, so they can become what he want them to become in life. His canes were always handy, coupled with emergency assembly summons where he harangued and warned errant students, with the authority of not only of a school principal but of a father.
High Chief Ayo Olayinka cutting his
82nd birthday cake
And many of us these students became what he wanted us to become. Lawyers, Professors, Engineers, successful entrepreneurs and businessmen, academicians who are now professors in their field of study, high net worth professionals, you just name it both home and in diaspora.
So come late March to early April this year of our Lord 2018, pay day came for High Chief Ayo Olayinka, to be lavished with honour and affection for his labour of love, by his old students. It was at the 42 years Founders Day celebration of Ilare Community High School, packaged by the Old Students Association. And the old students did not disappoint their pioneer Principal. They came from all walks of life to thoroughly shower honour and encomiums on him because he rightfully and without any reservation deserved them all.
High Chief Olayinka: singing out at the the birthday church service in Ipetu - Ijesa, his home town
From there the train moved to Ipetu - Ijesa, his hometown, where he is High Chief Lejofi, more of second in command to the king, to again lavish him a 82nd birthday celebration bash with a church thanksgiving, his old students ably represented.
Our take and prayers at Soji Graphics as we run this profile as our own token of honouring our principal, is that High Chief Ayo Olayinka lives beyond 90 even 100 to enjoy more of the fruits of his labour and dividends of his investments on us, his old students.
High Chief Ayo Olayinka: Fulfilled beyond words at
the week long harvest of his good seeds
Because in fairness to history and posterity, High Chief Ayo Olayinka did more than educating us in his class sessions, he put and build steel in each of us students, that launched us out of school to conquer. And conquer we did in all facets of life.