WHAT'S IN A NAME? - Osisiye TafaWe are resisting it, all the unions and the students will resist it, the Alunmus will resist it. The truth about the whole thing is that it shows the level of intelligence of those people in government. Nobody will change Harvard's name, nobody will change Cambridge's name to Winston Churchill University. University of Lagos is a brand, for 50 years. The first university established by Act of Parliament and one man trying to score cheap political point. When people go outside and you ask them what university are you from? What name will you pronounce? They'll ask is it a new university? Is it the name of a toothpaste? It's a senseless thing and are going to resist it.
I admire the ease and boldness with which President Jonathan proceeded with the University of Lagos renaming. It shows that he is not shy to change the status quo. Good. Let me take you down memory lane a bit though.
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.
Considering these, 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.