Rat race for wealth has distracted parents from training their children —Ven Daramola
Some days to his 80th birthday, the first African principal of Loyola College and former principal of Ibadan Grammar School, Venerable Godwin Bamidele Daramola, a retired cleric man, speaks with Yejide Gbenga-Ogundare, about his experience, state of education in the country, challenges of young priests, among other issues.
I was born into a family of the clergy because my father was also a clergyman, the Venerable Joseph Osadare Daramola. My father and mother, Mrs Juliana Daramola. Both of them have gone to the great beyond. I was brought up as a child of the vicarage and my father engraved in me the moral values I should live to make a successful life.
Aside from being a clergyman, you are also an educationist that rose through the ranks. Can you describe your journey as a teacher and how you became the first African principal of Loyola College?
I actually had a very successful career as a teacher and as an educationist. In fact, I started my teaching career at Origbo Anglican Grammar school near Ile Ife after graduating from the Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone in 1966. In 1970, I came to Loyola College in Ibadan after my wedding in 1969; my wife had to come with me to Ibadan to work at the Military hospital while I stayed at Loyola College. When I came to Loyola College in 1970, I started as a classroom teacher, then, I had a brief spell at Osogbo Grammar School and came back in 1975 as the Vice Principal of Loyola College. When the position of principal at Loyola College became available, I was recommended by the Bishop at that time, that was Bishop Job, even though I was not a catholic, I am an Anglican priest, yet, Bishop Job recommended me. Having gone through the traditions of Loyola college. Bishop Job felt I could effectively head the school and he recommended me to the school’s board and I was appointed as first African head of Loyola College.
What was it like taking over as an African when the school was already used to having white principals?
I didn’t find it difficult at all. I was accepted by the Catholic laity, that is the Catholic clergy, with open hands, because they felt that having come into Loyola College in 1970, I would have been very familiar with the traditions of the school and of course, people who even saw me at that time thought I was a Catholic, maybe they felt I was more Catholic than Anglican. So Bishop Job saw no reason why I shouldn’t head Loyola College.
What about the students?
The students accepted me very well and welcomed me with open arms. They were very happy to have me as the principal having been with them for years as a classroom teacher and as vice principal.
How was it easy for you to combine the teaching profession with the work of the vineyard?
I came into the church as a priest in 1985; I became the substantive principal of Loyola College in 1981 but I had acted as principal a few times before becoming the substantive principal. When I came into the church I wasn’t a fulltime priest. I was what they call part-time or tent-making priest. So, I wasn’t in charge of a church fully. I was an assistant priest to the priest in the church where I was posted at that time, so that didn’t really affect my job as principal. I was able to cope.
Now, I want you to talk about the education sector in those days and now. What do you think went wrong?
Well, students at that time were more serious than children of these days. These days, there are so many distractions. Those days, students were busy and serious with their books and academic works; they studied hard, no distractions and they made good results. But now, the students are too carefree, distractions here and there. And most of the parents don’t even have time to follow up or look after their children or wards. They are in the rat race for wealth and are too busy to monitor and this has affected the upbringing of their children. So that has been responsible for poor performance of children these days and the ruin that technology is bringing into education. Even though technology is good, the negative effects are more than the positive effects. Because, nowadays, they are so busy and addicted to their phones; always playing with their phones, not reading their books and they have no time to read or pursue activities that will help their future.
Talking about the church, there was a time that after God, it was the minister but now, it seems people don’t even respect priests again, what is responsible for this?
Well, in those days, priests were highly regarded by the laity. But now, unfortunately, some of the priests have messed themselves up with the world, they are more attracted to the world than the things of God. I think they are being driven into the world by the temptation of money or wealth and this is affecting the church. It is affecting the performance of the clergy and it is affecting the dedication a clergy should have to the things of God.
You will be 80 on Monday, looking back, what will you say is the greatest lesson that life has taught you?
Life has taught me to come closer to God as a priest. Life has taught me to be patient; it has taught me to rely on God all the time and also not to waiver in my faith in God; to be steadfast in him no matter the circumstances or despite all circumstances of life I come across because, in all circumstances of life, we must thank God. There’s always a room to thank God. So life has taught me that great lesson of thanking God in all circumstances and vicissitudes of life.
What advice do you have for major stakeholders in education, and priests, since that falls under your expertise, having a wealth of experience as a teacher and a priest?
For the students, I will advise that they should be more serious with their academic work, they should avoid distractions; they should aim very high to perform efficiently and brilliantly in their studies. As for the parents, they should be more serious about the upbringing of their wards and children. They should know that their children are the pillars of tomorrow and they are the people who will be pillars after they might have gone and therefore, they should be well trained in moral values and right moral upbringing because, life without good moral upbringing, like they say in the legal parlance, is null and void. I will advise the parents to jettison the rat race for wealth and be more serious about and dedicated to bringing up their children.
Teachers should also be more dedicated to their duties. These days, teachers are also after wealth and money; they want to be rich and have shortcut to wealth and this is taking them away from serious work in the classroom. They should prepare and deliver their lessons very well. They should have interest in the welfare of their students and know that if the students are well trained, they will build this nation, Nigeria and the students will reward them in future. I know this from experience because, from my career at Loyola College and at Ibadan Grammar School, I am reaping as it were what I have sown in the two schools because my students who I brought up still like me and treat me well when they see me. They organise events for me and give me gifts, they just like me and any teacher who does his work properly will reap the fruits in future.
For the priests, the priests should also be more dedicated to their duties as priests. They should know that being a priest requires hard work, dedication and absolute belief in God. They should also close their eyes to the things of the world and be focused on the things of heaven; the things of God.