The late British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, titularly known as Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from February 6, 1952 until her death in 2022, did not fail to leave her footprints on Nigerian soil like some schools in the world. most populous black nation even to date are in her name and honor. Though old, many of these schools are leftover legacies of the great monarch and serve not only to commemorate her ascension to the throne, but also to celebrate her life.
There are at least two such schools in the country: Queen Elizabeth Secondary School and Queen’s School Ibadan/Ede, which was established to commemorate her accession to the throne in 1952.
Located in the city of Ilorin, the Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, named after the late Queen, was established on 21 May 1956 by the then Government of the Northern Region headed by the late Prime Minister of the Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto.
At the time, there was a call to provide good education for girls in the region and to improve education for girls and children; this has been observed at a time when girls were deprived of formal education by their parents because of the then societal norms.
Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England unveiled the plaque commemorating the official opening of the Queen Elizabeth School, Ilorin, 66 years ago. The idea of the monarch was that the school should be the best in the country for the education and moral education of the girl.
During our correspondent’s visit to Ilorin, the current principal of the school, Hajia Lawal, announced that the school was planning to organize a service of honor in honor of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Lawal said: “The school is organizing a program in memory of the Queen. On September 19, we will celebrate the late Queen at the school by hosting a special program for Her Majesty. It will feature a play titled ‘Her Royal Majesty’s visit to Ilorin in 1957’. The student choir and the alumni choir will perform special hymns on the occasion and the governor of the state, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has approved the program and will be in attendance. Former students of the school have also sent tributes that will be displayed. The play tells us the history of the queen and the role of the queen. Our teachers and our students will participate in the program. The school will reopen on September 19.
“Queen Elizabeth School Ilorin is the only school named in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, other schools such as Queen’s College and Queen’s School, scattered across different parts of the country, do not bear the late Queen’s name.
“It was founded by the late Prime Minister of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello. He came up with the idea of bringing the girls in the northern region together. The Queen attended the school in the company of Sir Ahmadu Bello and the then Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Shuaibu Abdulkadir I, when she visited Nigeria, but when the Queen visited Nigeria in 1957, she was taken to visit the 56 pioneer students in the school and she officially laid the foundation of the school, and it was named after her.”
Lawal, a former student of the school, from the 1976/1981 class, revealed that the school community of management, staff, students and former students had been devastated by the news of the Queen’s death.
“We are all devastated by Her Majesty’s death, but we are comforted because it was a life well spent. So far so good, she was the longest serving monarch in Britain’s history. She ascended the throne at the age of 26 and spent 70 good years as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth of Nations.
“For this we have to give God the glory. We are glad that she led an exemplary life in uniting the Commonwealth countries and that her reign was very peaceful and witnessed many good things. Everyone prays for a long and eventful life, although we were devastated that she was no longer with us, but all her good work remains with us. We will attend the Queen’s funeral and our former students in England will all be at the funeral.
“Our immediate former director, Hajia Rahmat AbdulRahman, has told me that she will attend the funeral. She will represent me and she promised to send me the photos,” she said.
The deputy director of the school, administration, Hajia Abdulkareem Titilola and the vice director, student affairs, Hajia Jimoh Suliat, said that the staff and students will actively participate in the program to honor the queen, show their talents, the Queen’s contributions and the lessons learned from her life.
Morning like our mother
They said, “When the Queen died we were devastated and we mourned her like our own mother. We have missed the Queen. Just mentioning the Queen’s name has lifted the school and that shows us a lot of respect delivered by people.
A former pupil of the school, identified simply as Jimoh, said: “The former pupils will work with the government at the memorial service to provide the Queen with an appropriate funeral. The former students in Kwara and other parts of the country also come together to honor the Queen.”
The headmaster noted the prestige and benefits that the name “Queen Elizabeth” had brought to the school over the years.
She said: “The name has attracted the support of the government and many others, some former students have brought many things to the school. The school is owned by the 19 northern states, but Kwara state is the custodian of the school.
“Sir Ahmadu Bello wanted the girls in the northern region to come together and share their individual cultural values and he even brought together girls from different cultures, the Walis, Tukurs etc. We even have foreign students from Pakistan, India; South Africa and many others. Since we all come from different cultural backgrounds, the school was established to promote unity; it has fulfilled this purpose since its inception.”
Located in Ede, the former outpost of the mighty Oyo Empire, now Osun State, stands the proud Queen’s School, founded in 1952 under the British colonial masters when the late Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne to begin a reign spanning 70 took years.
It is worth noting that the Queen’s School was created on the basis of the existing Queen’s College Lagos. The girls-only school was finally moved to Ibadan in 1967.
Our correspondent on a visit to the school spoke to some former students who said that the late Queen would be missed by many.
Kemi Ajayi, a 50 year old alumnus, said: “Our school grew out of the already existing Queen’s College Lagos. I think it was believed that some students went to Queen’s College in Lagos from the hinterland, so those who established Queen’s School did so to reduce the need to travel long distances to get to school. The school was later moved to Ibadan; we have the same national anthem and school uniform till date.
Learning to be feminine
Another old girl from the school, Doyin Akinlabi, told our correspondent that although the school didn’t teach them anything about the Queen, they had been taught to behave like ‘ladies’, which she said was a quality of the Queen.
She said, ‘I’m glad I went through Queen’s School, Ibadan and the way we were made to believe and act like queens. We were raised to realize that we should see ourselves as important, even those of us from humble backgrounds.
“We have learned to always behave well. The whole world will miss the Queen and her impact in the lives of many people. Her ascension, we were told, was what led to the founding of our school. The world will miss her.”
In nostalgia, another old girl from the school, Funmi Showande, told our correspondent about the great impact the school had on the lives of many prominent Nigerians.
Showande said: “There are many wonderful people who have attended Queen’s School in Ibadan and this is a testament to the fact that we have been well taught and that our lives today reflect dedication, honesty and love.
“The Ebola heroine, Stella Adadevoh, who stopped the Liberian man who brought Ebola to Nigeria from spreading it to many more people, was an old girl. There are judges, lawyers, doctors who are doing very well both in Nigeria and abroad. The wife of the Vice Governor of Ondo State, Esther Aiyedatiwa, also attended the Queen’s School.
“The Queen had a big influence on the way we were taught and how we should behave. Although Queen Elizabeth was thousands of miles away she seemed so close, especially on the day she died, she had almost become a fixture in the UK and it will take time to get used to her departure.”
An article, written by Olufemi Ogunsanya, the chairman of the Queen School Old Girls Association Board of Trustees, commemorating the school’s 70th anniversary, said in part: “Four pioneering students, along with four pioneering teachers, moved from Queen’s College Lagos to the newly established Queen’s School in Ede, a town in the old western region of Nigeria.
“The western regional government owned the school. The motto of Queen’s College Lagos was and remains “Pass On The Torch”! The torch of knowledge and wisdom was brought from Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos to the sleepy town of Ede!
“A full-fledged school, with its traditions, moved Form II to V to Ede in September 1951. The team was led by four pioneering teachers and Miss E. Hobson as principal.
Girls were raised to be strong, confident, hardworking, articulate, and yet remain “fine” dignified ladies. Girls learned etiquette, how to sit and walk “like a lady.
Queen’s School, Ede was known for a well-rounded education. Outside of academia, girls had to learn to sew, cook, garden, dance, sing, play sports, act, guide girls, literature and debate societies, and even receive phonetics lessons. Girls were groomed to be well-rounded women! No wonder many of the Alumnae turned out to be famous Doctors, Professors (a group of as many as 10 professors!), Engineers, Vice Chancellors, Lecturers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Assistants, Commissioners, Deputy Governors, Judges, Attorneys, etc. ”
In a related development, a day after the death of the Queen, the ex-presidential aspirant of the Young Progressive Party, Adamu Garba, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to rename the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to Queen Elizabeth University of Nigeria, in order to immortalize the deceased monarch.
A distinguishing factor observed by our correspondent of these schools is the frequent use of blue and white, which stands for ‘Royalty’, the color blue being the favorite color of the late monarch.