One of the major consequences of the advent of European Missionaries and the subsequent exploration of the interior regions of Nigeria, was a rise in the establishment of Churches and Schools by the Missionaries.
The missionaries had projected that if evangelism was to witness success and progress, education of the citizenry was inescapable. Thus, began the founding of many elementary schools, under the auspices of the CMS Mission and in line with that exploratory pattern.
One of the leaders of the CMS Mission, Henry Venn was said to have favoured and encouraged the education of Africans for the African Mission, under a familiar climate.
One of the products of that indigenisationcampaign was Thomas Babington Macaulay, an African and Nigerian who was spotted and picked from Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone and sent to England to train as an Anglican Priest at the CMS Training Institute Islington in the United Kingdom; where he studied Literary Arts; and after which he also had a brief stint at the King’s College, University of London where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. Determined to carve a niche for himself as a major player in the education of Africans; a programme that was on-going at the time. Thomas Babington Macaulay was ordained, next to The Revd (later Bishop) Samuel Ajayi Crowther in 1854. He returned on graduation to Abeokuta and was posted to the Abeokuta Training Institute in Ake, under The Revd Robert C. Paley where he rose to become the Headmaster on the death of Rev. Robert Paley after only three months.
Reported to be “too academic” for an elementary school and “lecturing his congregation instead of preaching to them” Henry Townsend was to get him transferred from Abeokuta en-route Lagos to Freetown in Sierra Leone to join the staff at the CMS Grammar School there. Macaulay felt differently and pleaded to be allowed to start a High School in Lagos; as an option to being transferred. His request was granted. Armed with his approval letter, his monthly stipend and the four rooms granted him in a small single storey building called the COTTON WAREHOUSE along the Broad Street, Lagos – the present site’ of HALLMARK BANK (UTC Building) on Broad Street, Lagos. Thomas Babington Macaulay founded CMS Grammar School on June 6, 1859. He presided with great distinction as Principal over the school from 1859 to 1879 when he died.
The School started with only six pupils, all boarders and for decades after it was founded, it was the only secondary Grammar School that offered boys training as future leaders of Nigeria. Until recently, most of the Anglican Clergy in Nigeria were products of the CMS Grammar School, as were the early administrators. Though a Mission School, it did not discriminate in its admissions, with boys from different religious background being offered admission into the school through an entrance examination.
Many years later, after a British colony had been established in Lagos in 1861, the British colonial authorities still recruited most of their local clerical and technical staff from the School. Among these were Dr. Henry Carr, the first Anglican Inspector of Education and, later Administrator General of Lagos Colony who established Kings College, Lagos, and Herbert Macaulay, who later trained as a Surveyor.
Under Thomas Babington Macaulay, the school witnessed rapid growth and esteemed consolidation. He developed the CMS Grammar School into a famous school, and was reputed to be a stern disciplinarian determined to instil moral discipline in the boys under his charge. From the start he made it his priority to assist the boys in the development of their character and to prepare them for public service. This has remained the tradition of the school.
Macaulay’s main pre-occupation, encapsulated in that of the CMS Mission, was to raise a bunch of boys who would be SPIRITUALLY DEEP MORALLY SOUND and ACADEMICALLY ENDOWED enough to shape public opinion and raise standards anywhere they found themselves after graduation. It was in due regard of those feats that the Missionaries gave the motto of the school as NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA extracted from Psalm 127, meaning “Without God we labourin vain”, which enshrined the faith of the founding fathers, and the tradition of the school.
Babington Macaulay, has one other claim to historical prominence and fame. He got married to one of Bishop Ajayi Crowther’s daughters, Abigail and from that union came a son, the famous Herbert Macaulay, leader of the Nigerian nationalist movement. Successive Principals over the years have laboured tirelessly to keep those cherished traditions, break new grounds and set the school on a greater course.
As a matter of fact, the School has been fortunate in having a succession of dedicated and diligent Principals who have continued to maintain its excellent academic traditions and moral discipline. These were: Ven, Archdeacon Henry Johnson who succeeded Revd Babington Macaulay in acting capacity from 1879′-1881, The Revd (Later Bishop) Isaac Oluwole 1881-1893. Mr. James Johnson 1893-1894 (Acting), The Revd E. A. Godson 1894- 1895, The Revd. (later Bishop) F. Melvile Jones 1895-1896 (Acting), The RevdJoseph Suberu Fanimokun 1896-1914, The Revd. Canon E. J. Evans 1915-1927, The Revd A. Hobson 1927- 1929, The Revd F. Watherton1929-1931, when he was redeployed to found Igbobi College; The Revd (later Venerable) J. O. Lucas 1932-1935 (Acting), The Revd C G. Thorne 1935-1936, The Revd. (later Bishop) S. O. Odutola 1936-1938 (Acting)’ Mr. (later Professor) L. J, Lewis 1938-1943, The Revd (later Bishop) Seth Irunsewe Kale 1944-1949. Looking back in retrospect at the post-Macaulay days, one cannot but salute the doggedness and worthy contributions of those great men that ‘managed‘ CMS Grammar School.
For instance, the CMS Grammar School, under Revd J. S. Fanimokun, had a most successful year. In November 1899, the register contained the names of as many as 112 boys, and the examination results were remarkably good. The colonial Inspector of Schools reported that “in the Primary Department 91.7 percent were proficient, and in the Secondary Department 98.8 per cent. The school won twelve prizes in various subjects at the competitive exhibition of school work. Two of the boys were successful in the Civil Service Entrance Examination in December 1899, one gaining the first, and the other the ninth place: another passed the same examination in August; and in the Technical and Survey Schools Examination held in September the only successful candidates hailed from the Grammar School…” A pleasing feature of the year was the co-operation of ‘old boys’ … some of them giving back to their school special prizes for proficiency in stated subjects.
Later, the School moved down the road from its ‘Cotton House’ site at Broad Street to a more spacious accommodation, at the junction of Broad Street and Odunlami Street which later played host to the Lagos Central Library and NITEL. itwas on that new site that the first School Science Laboratory was built in 1929, together with an Assembly Hall, the Principal’s lodge, and a dinning room for the boarders. In 1909, fifty years after the founding of the school, the first state secondary school, the King’s College, Lagos was established by the colonial administration, with most of its foundation students drawn From the CMS Grammar School.
In 1915, The Revd Canon (later Professor) E. J. Evans, a scientist and well-known author of science books for secondary schools, who introduced the teaching of Science in the School, succeeded The Revd Fanimokun as Principal. It was he who in 1919 composed the music of the School Song, which was later harmonized by FelaSowande, an old boy of the School. On leaving the School. Canon E. J. Evans later became a Professor at the University of London. In 1929, The Revd F. Watherton took over as Principal. During his tenure, some students in the school were successfully presented in 1931 for the new Senior Certificate’ Examinations. The following year The Revd Watherton left the School following his appointment as Principal of the new IgbobiCollege, jointly founded by the Anglican and Methodist Missions. The CMS Grammar School again provided Igbobi with some of its foundation students, the others having been drawn from Methodist Boys’ High School, Lagos.
The mild-mannered Ven. (Dr.) J. Olumide Lucas succeeded The Revd Watherton as Acting Principal. Ven. J. Olumide Lucas, a great scholar, author, music composer, and theologian, left the school in 1935 on being appointed the Vicar of St. Paul’s Church, Breadfruit. He had been preceded by three expatriates, and was succeeded by yet another, The Revd Thorne in 1936 as Principal. Mr. Lewis, popularly known by the boys as ‘Jeki‘ maintained strict discipline the School and won the respect of parents and the public. He did not hesitate in flogging errant boys. When a few boys from wealthy families became unruly, he expelled them from the School. It was he who introduced the preparatory class in the School by which boys drawn mainly from the CMS Girls’ School were admitted and prepared for the entrance examination to the school.
He left in 1944, and subsequently became a Professor at the Institute Education in the University of London. Such was his commitment to the development of education in Africa that he ended his academic career in the 1980s as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe. During his tenure as Principal, the teaching of Science in the School flourished so much that Science Tutors from other schools came to the CMS Grammar School for further training, and to use its excellent Science Laboratories. Some students came to School for the preliminary science course, preparatory to entering YabaHigher College for the Diploma course in science. He was ably assisted in the teaching of Science by Mr. (later Professor) C. 0 Taiwo, and Mr. C. A. Fawole. both of whom had read Science at the Yaba Higher College.
During the World War in 1942, those reading Science were evacuated from Yaba Higher College to the CMS Grammar School to complete their diploma course. Mr. Lewis was the last of the great expatriate Principals of the School all of whom left indelible marks on
The Revd (later Bishop) S. O. Odutola who was succeeded by Mr L. J. lewis in 1944 as acting Principal expanded the Science Laboratories in the School. Mr L. J. lewis was replaced, as Principal, by The Revd (later Bishop) Seth Irunsewe Kale, who left in 1949 for missionary work overseas, Kale returned from overseas in 1950, He was appointed ‘Dean of Anglican Colleges and Schools’ and was requested, in addition to his new post, to go to Owo for a year to Act as Principal at St. John’s College, Owo, when the then Principal of St.John’s, a Teacher Training institution, the Revd. (later Rt. Rev.) I. O. Okunsanya, was away on leave for the year
Kale left CMS Grammar School in 1950. It was from Owo that he went to St. Andrew;s College, Oyo, in 1951 to become the first African Principal of the oldest and most prestigious C.M.S. Teacher Training College in Africa where he remained till 1963, when he moved back to Lagos and was consecrated and enthroned as the Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Lagos in succession to Bishop Adelakun Howells.
Kale was the only person who held the post of Dean of Anglican Colleges and Schools.. Under Revd Kale, the teaching of Science in the school continued to flourish with the recruitment of more science teachers and the expansion of Science Laboratories in the School. Kale House, one of the houses to which boys in the school are distributed, has been named after him.
After the Irunsewe Kale days, another set of Principals sat on the saddle at different times; beginning with The Revd Canon (later Venerable) B. A. Adelaja (an old boy) 1950-1970. Others were: Mr. T. A. Ojo 1970-1972 (Acting), Sir High Chief Israel Akin Olowu 1972- 1984, Mr. B. A. Nigwo, (an old boy) 1985-1987, Mr. J. B. A. Edema 1987-1997, Mr. Taiwo O. Jemilugba(another old boy) 1997-2001, The Revd (later Venerable) J. O. Onayinka September 2001-August 2005, and The Revd (later Venerable) Tunde Oduwole (yet another old boy) September 2005-2017 and Venerable Adeyemi OlaOluwa2017 till date.
In 1950, The Revd Canon (later Archdeacon) B. A. Adelaja, took over as Principal of the School. He remained Principal for twenty years. When he left in 1970 he had equalled the feat achieved by the first Principal of the School, The RevdThomas Babington Macaulay, who also served for twenty years.
It was during the long tenure of Revd Canon Adelaja as Principal that the School, after years of careful preparation, moved in 1959 to its present site at Bariga, then virtually a virgin land on the outskirts of Lagos. Understandably, many Old Grammarians, who remained sentimentally attached to the old site at Odunlami, privately expressed their reservations about the School moving to Bariga.
In retrospect, the decision to move the school to Bariga was wise and justified, as the old site in Central Lagos had become too small and cramped for the School, which needed new facilities such as a good sports arena and modern Science Laboratories. All of these were accomplished at the new site during tenure of Revd. Canon Adelaja who will always be remembered for his contribution to the fame and physical development of the School.
On return of the school back to the Anglican missions in 2001after it was ‘taken over’ by the government in 1978, the Old Grammarians’ Society (OGS), Lagos Anglican Schools Management Board (LASMAB), and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) were determined not only to help put the tradition of excellence on which the premier CMS Grammar School has been built back in place, but to also provide upgraded and new modern facilities within the school to continue to improve the learning environment in the school. Within the years after the return of the school, a number of projects have been put in place to practically demonstrate this commitment.
There had been within these years of return of the school to the missions, a massive process of physical reconstruction, rehabilitation, renovation and restoration of ethical values.
It is hoped that with unrelenting efforts and unceasing prayers, we may continue on the path of progress and improvement of the school, and thence we shall continue to soar up and on.
In its nearly one hundred and sixty years life span, the school has recorded many ‘firsts’ and produced many of Nigeria’s distinguished sons in almost all the facets of the nation’s life: Old Grammarians have, true-to-type attained commanding positions in business, law, medicine, banking, insurance, engineering, academics, broadcasting, politics, sports, religion, education, diplomacy, architecture and planning .
Gradually, the facilities in the School are being rehabilitated with financial support of the Old Boys, the PTA, the LASMAB and the Board of Governors.
A new chapter has been opened. In a couple of years from now, it will be most convenient to do another status-evaluation, to assess the levels to which the School has been taken within some years of the return and take-over. God is working His purpose out, and before long those plans shall ripen fast. The bud now may have a bitter taste; but it is certain that “sweet will be the flower”. JESUS IS LORD!!!
OTHER STARS BORN ON THE 6TH OF JUNE
Former Bishop of Lagos
Parent and Prize Donor for June 6 Celebrants