The change of power was looming in the air, as the principal had earlier announced his transfer. The students had eagerly anticipated the arrival of the new man, they wanted to know if he was as strict as the outgoing principal.
I remember faintly the day he arrived, it was in the evening and I think it rained, but I don’t remember it was a long time ago. But I still remember parts of that day. We were in the dormitory, when whispers of the new man reached us. We rushed out to go see the man who was going to replace the pioneer principal Chima Onwujuru.
He was a tall well built man with broad shoulders, fair skinned, a slightly large head and a gold rim glasses perched on his nose. He had on a T-shirt and his traditional shorts. He walked with the gait of a person who had being thrown into a den of wolves and something else which at the time we could not place our fingers on.
The outgoing principal showed him around the school and when he came to the tap near hostel C; where some junior student had left some of the dishes we had used for lunch unwashed, he bent down picked up some dishes and proceeded to wash them! We the senior students were shocked to see such humility from a man that was to take charge of us and I must admit that some would have thought, he was one they could ride. How wrong they were. With immediate alacrity we rallied junior students to collect the dishes from him. Shocked that the incoming principal would want to wash ‘our dish’!!!!
Little did we know, that this would be the man that would shape many of our lives and change the face of our school forever. His name was Edward Okereke, but we called him Amstrong.
We began to get a true picture of the man the next day at the morning assembly where he rattled out his qualities amongst which was I am strong. That’s how the seniors gave him Amstrong, because that was one quality he kept harping on.
I have never before then seen a more intimidating man. With mere words he struck fear into the hearts of even the hardest of students.
His words carried weight, I remember it was with words he was able discourage students from going to town illegally even before the fence were built high.
To ensure that we knew he meant business, in the weeks following his arrival he expelled a couple of students. He would later be known for expelling students for the slightest offense. He was a no nonsense man.
But his no nonsense attitude earned him a lot of enemies and detractors, from among the students, teachers and parents. He knew he was hated, but he never let it faze him. He was one prone to threats and he made good his threats.
Edward Okereke made Christ the King College a household name in Abuja. In his tenure we came first in countless SSCE and JSCE examinations, won countless football, basketball and march past competitions.
He bought us a school bus; even though we paid for it, * rolls eye and I never got to ride on it. He oversaw that we had constant light and water supply.
He had a way of getting people to do things for him and the schools, judging by the numerous gifts we got. Name them; cows, generating sets, water etc.
In all sincerity, he made CKC Abuja the school it is today, setting the standard for what it was to become.
I can still remember his calling card ‘You there!’ At that whoever it is he called would wish the earth open and swallow him whole. I can still remember his voice even after many years, it sounded as if he spoke through his nostril and he looked at you with these piercing eyes. God they scared me!!! Still do. You never looked into them because he would stare you down.
I can still remember him in his white cassock, a long black rosary hanging down from around his waist, a mobile phone or two in his left hand and his customary cane in his right hand in his impeccable sandals. At the sight of him, everybody ran helter skelter, even teachers!
He was strict not only to students, but teachers and parents alike.
Amstrong, choi!! I remember the day he flogged me for poor performance in mathematics. Mr Musa, the math teacher who would copy word for word exercises from the text and expect us to do the rest on our own, reported me to him. FYI Mr Musa is probably the reason I never got good in math or he may not be cos I really hated math. Now that I am grown I think Mr Musa must have being smoking ‘Igboh’
Anyway back to the flogging. He told me to hold one of the numerous pillars in the classroom block and proceeded to torture my bum with his cane. I swear to God I didn’t sit probably on my bum for one week; it had ridges the size of my finger.
Those canes, I will never forget them. Long, brown and elastic, it was as if he brought a ship load of them with him. Those things were painful and hardly broke. Even the ‘chesters’ would testify to its powers.
We never saw eye to eye; me and him. It wasn’t as if I was a troublemaker but trouble always found me.
I remember his last words before we passed out after our SSCE. He said vultures stay at the foot of a tree but eagles perch high up in the tree. He admonished us to be like the eagle and perch high. I will never forget those words.
May his soul rest in perfect peace.
BRO EDWARD OKEREKE
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Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.