Day 3 of the 5th Idowu Sobowale Conference held Wednesday, March 31, 2021, with Professor Idowu Sobowale and some other participants participating virtually.
Sobowale engaged a large segment of the participants, telling his own story and lecturing those who, according to Prof. Rotimi Olatunji, “had gathered to learn at the feet of the master.”
Beginning with his childhood days, the octogenarian informed his audience that he had wanted to be a mechanic so badly that he boldly told his father so. According to him, he had got used to having whatever he wanted after losing three of his siblings and was loved by both his mother’s and father’s family, but the people were so concerned that he would run away from the village that they called a “National Conference” to dissuade him, but later allowed him.
While serving as an apprentice to a roadside mechanic, he recalled that he was so disoriented that he would bring “a spanner when the master asked for pliers.” Subsequently, he fell off with the apprenticeship and another “National Conference” was held to persuade his brother to take him to Lagos for enrolled into school. Getting him admitted was a herculean task because he was considered too old to be in elementary school.
While narrating that experience, Sobowale said that the first thing that beat his imagination was the size of the chalkboard which he had never seen. Moreover, he was aghast that he “did not know what to do with a pencil and paper. Others had to hold my hand to write.” After being admitted, he disclosed that some teachers referred to him as “a man” whom they did not want to have in their class. However, one of the teachers took the risk of accepting him and paired him with one Olarenwaju Samuel who was regarded as a genius in class.
READ ALSO: Yinka Odumakin: An Ode to the Fallen One
The iconic scholar revealed that he had performed so poorly that he was always last in class: “But, Olarenwaju was so brilliant that he would always finish every work well ahead of time to do mine and whatever score he got was what I got. The teacher later took me to another lady who was also brilliant, but could not help with my work. However, she allowed me to copy hers.
So, if she got 3 or 4, I would get 1 or 2. The teachers thought that it was my effort. Later, I was joined to a fellow who knew nothing. My performance naturally dropped. My brother threatened that I would leave school if I failed. I was not bothered because even the teachers had suggested that I should be sent to learn a trade as they believed that I was too old to go to school. I also preferred learning a trade or being an apprentice to schooling.”
Things took a surprising turn for Idowu who as a pioneer Professor of Journalism had impacted the lives so many scholars that he is now regarded as the grandfather of teachers in the field of mass communication. After the initial struggles, he improved so consistently that he could compete with Olarenwaju and the other lady.
At the end of the term and prize giving day when he did not expect anything he was announced the third best student. He reminisced: “I couldn’t believe it and didn’t know how I landed at Oyinbo market, Yaba. When I got home my brother who called me olodoo (dullard) saw the result. But rather than praise me, he only asked how did you do it? By the time I left Oyinbo for another school, I would give a distant gap to anyone who would be second.”