It’s time to tread carefully. I have quite a few friends on social media platforms who have known me since my days in university. Some of them are as closely linked to each other as they were when we were students. My connection with contemporaries from those days tends to ebb and flow.
I visited the campus in 2007 and it was an amazing experience. It was during the holiday season, so there were hardly any students around. Most of the buildings looked the same. The Bukateria area, (where some of us were brave enough to eat the food cooked by Ife townies…!) had expanded into a fully fledged market, when compared to the modest site of my teenage years.
Next to the Bukateria stood a gleaming building that was erected after my time – the Institute of Cultural Studies. It looked interesting, but I didn’t have enough time to venture inside to see what it was like. There were other matters on my mind, such as reflections about the role that the university played in my development.
Commenting as someone who received secondary education in Lagos, Ife was much more of a comfort zone for those who had gone to school in Ibadan or cities and towns in closer vicinity. I can’t say that I identified with the dominant ambience of the student life.
Having said that, Ife was the first place where I was able to assemble my vocabulary and skills as a creative artist. Folks I met on the campus in my mid to late teenage years had a significant impact on some parts of my career in years that followed. I was never one of those “Great Ife” cheerleaders, but I’m glad that I spent almost four years of my life as a student there.