Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Memories As Earnest Gems Clocks 60
Memories As Earnest Gems Clocks 60
- By Ingram Osigwe
All is set for Reunion and Diamond Jubilee celebration of Earnest Gems, Grammar School, (EGGS) ( now renamed Akokwa High School). The school, one of the pioneer post primary schools in the defunct Eastern Region was founded in 1958 by the late Professor Elechukwu Nnadibugha Njaka.
The Diamond Jubilee which is being put together by the EGGS Alumni association will hold on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at the school’s premises, Akokwa in Ideato local government area of Imo state. The event will feature lectures, cultural dances, motions and resolutions, live bands among others. The organisers are optimistic that the reunion will afford EGGS’s old boys and girls the opportunity to reconnect and network. The event is open to all alumni members across class sets.
EGGS’s founder, the late Professor Njaka’s father, George Maduneme Njaka, had the benefit of contacts with early Christian missionaries and subsequently with Western education. This largely influenced his decision to send his son, the young Elechukwu to America to acquire the proverbial golden fleece. Elechukwu’s trip back to his native Akokwa to collect research material preparatory for his doctorate degree programme was to change the narratives for education in the then Eastern Region and for Akokwa in particular as the parlous state of education in the area, manifested by the high level of illiteracy among the people forced him to stay back and remedy the situation.
Thus early in 1958, EGGS was born. The foundation stone of the school was laid by an official of the United States Information Service (USIS) in Lagos. The school was designed as co-educational and the student strength at inception was 60. First classes held on February 22, 1958. According to the late founder, Professor, Njaka, “the school has been sustained by God and the goodwill of the people of the United States. Prominent among these are Mrs. Frances P. Bolton, a Washington Congresswoman who had donated a whopping sum of two thousand pounds (£2,000) worth of science equipment through Messrs Philip Harris of England”
Both Mrs. Bolton and Mrs. Eileen J. Garrett from New York had contributed substantially to the training of Professor Njaka during his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes. A couple named Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Prugh, not only contributed money and equipment for the take-off of the EGGS but came to Nigeria and joined the pioneer staff of the school. There were also other expatriate pioneer staff such as Miss F.R. Schaible, Miss E.R. Scott, Mrs. Anne Crowe and Mrs. Martha Shapiro.
Due largely to Professor Njaka’s doggedness and dedication for the actualization of his secondary school project, foreign assistance became guaranteed from individuals and organizations. Books were donated in large qualities by Mr. G. Branan Ward and Mrs. Loring of California. Ranfurly library, English-speaking union of the Commonwealth, England, Mr. L. Hayness Speer of San Diego, California, donated books. The university from where Mr. Njaka obtained his Master’s degree in political science also donated over a ton of science equipment. In 1962, the first batch of students sat for the West African School Certificate Examination and scored 53% passes. Predictably, EGGS was determined to excel in line with the vision of its founder.
Situated on a hill between Umuopia and Owerre Akokwa and close to Iyiba Spring, EGG has achieved and continues to achieve the lofty objectives of its founder. The school, though renamed by the East Central State Government of the late Mr. Ukpabi Asika immediately after the Biafra – Nigeria civil war as Akokwa High School, has produced and continues to produce eminent citizens who have excelled in their various fields of human endeavours such as scholars of global repute, Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers , Teachers, Sports Heroes/Heroines, Clergymen, Politicians, Seasoned Administrators, Businessmen, Scientists, Writers, Researchers, Inventors, Musicians, Pharmacists among others.
As the school clocks 60th old students have nothing but effusive praises for the late founder, Professor Njaka, who for the love of fatherland and for the love of Akokwa and its people showed unparalled selflessness by foregoing his doctorate programme in America to ensure that his people benefited from quality education.
The late Professor Njaka who died few years ago was a member of the defunct Eastern Region’s Parliament.
Ingram Osigwe, an Alumni of EGGS is the MD/CEO of Full Page International Communications Ltd.