THE HISTORY OF ST ANNE’S SCHOOL MOLETE, IBADAN Est. 1869
St. Anne’s owes its earliest origins to the goodwill and kindness of two Anglican missionaries, David and Anna Hinderer, who arrived in Ibadan in 1853. Anna established a Home School where she trained and groomed the children of the local Christians, and in good time her boarding house had become popular with the various families. Mrs. Hinderer however died suddenly, but she had created a need, and encouraged what would later become a major school and tradition. Her students at the time included Susanah Daley, the grandmother of Rev. I. O. Ransome Kuti, famous organist and educationist and father of the late Afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and Akinyele and Yejide Olunloyo. The school continued to grow and by 1899, Miss Grover (later Mrs. Mackay), one of Anna Hinderer’s successors established the Kudeti Girls’ School in Ibadan.
Meanwhile, in Lagos, there was about the same period, a lot of agitation in the press and among the local elite for a special school for the education of girls. Abigail Crowther, daughter of Bishop Ajayi Crowther and wife of Rev. Thomas Babington Macaulay, whose mother Sarah Crowther had established a girls’ school in Abeokuta, was in the forefront of this demand. She had studied in England like most girls of the Victorian era, but she wanted her own daughters to school in Nigeria. Eagle and Critic, the local newspaper which had taken up the campaign even argued that such a school should help to produce ladies who would become “good wives, good mothers, and good ornaments of society.” In 1869, the CMS Female Institution was established. Its name was changed to CMS Girls’ Seminary in 1891, and later when it became a full-fledged secondary school, it was referred to as CMS Girls’ School.
This school and the Kudeti Girls school in Ibadan had one thing in common. Both were initially designed to train girls who will become good wives and may be teachers, seamstresses and nurses. Many of the graduates subsequently attended the United Missionary College which had been established to provide formal teacher training and award Grade Three Teachers Certificates. But both schools grew rapidly.
30 teachers, over 100 boarders and a chapel
The Kudeti Girls’ School had to be moved from Kudeti to a new site at Molete which could accommodate 30 teachers, over 100 boarders and a chapel. The Broad Street site of the CMS Girls’ School in Lagos also became inadequate. This was when the decision was taken by the mission to merge the secondary school segment of the CMS Girls’ School with Kudeti Girls’ School, where there was more than adequate space for a large population of students. In 1950, students from Lagos travelled to Ibadan to complete their education in Kudeti Girls’ School. The product of this merger was the new school named St. Anne’s with the CMS-inspired motto: Courage, Modesty and Sincerity.
Thus, St Anne’s can be said to be the oldest girls’ school in Nigeria and in the West Africa sub-region. St Anne’s School can be said to be the forerunner of all girls’ school in this part of Nigeria. This is because many other schools evolved from it. For example, St. Margaret School, Ilesa, Yejide Girls’ Grammar School, Ibadan and Fiwasaiye Girls’ School, Akure are some of the schools which owe their evolution and existence to Saint Anne’s School. All these schools can be referred to as St. Anne’s sister-schools. Indeed, all the founding principals of these schools, started as teachers and pupils from St Anne’s School. Thus St. Anne’s on the Hill, as it is popularly referred to, has a great history as the mother of several other schools. In addition, St Anne’s School is the first school to present girls in the country for Cambridge school certificate!
Predictably, St Anne’s School has produced many Nigeria’s women trailblazers, celebrated female professionals and top public and private sector office holders. Women like the late Lady Kofo Ademola was not only the first Nigerian female graduate, but was also the first African female student in Oxford university; Mrs. Tejumade Alakija, the first Nigerian female science graduate; late Justice Roseline Omotoso, the first female Chief Judge in Lagos State; Mrs Dorothy Akanya, the first female commissioner for Health in the former Northern Region; late Prof. Jadesola Akande, the first female Vice Chancellor of a state university.
Others are: Rtd. Major General Kale, the first Nigerian female Major General (a Medical Doctor), the late Mrs. Flora Nwapa-Nwakuche, the first Nigerian female novelist; late Justice Atinuke Ige, the first female Judge in the then Western State; Prof. (Mrs) Bolanle Awe, the first Nigerian female Professor of History; Chief (Mrs) Anike Agbaje-Williams, the first television broadcaster in Africa; Prof. (Mrs) Bisi Sowunmi, an ordained priest of the Anglican communion; Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Director in the World Bank and two time Federal Minister of Nigeria; late Chief (Mrs) Toyin Olakunrin, the first female Chartered Accountant in Sub-Saharan Africa and first female Director of Institute of Directors (IOD); Mrs Claire Ighodaro, the first female president of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA); Justice Idongesit Isua (nee Ntem), Rtd Chief Justice of Akwa Ibom state; and Mrs Edak Uduak Umondak (nee Ononokpono), the immediate past Registrar, University of Uyo, are old girls of St Anne’s School. The present CJ of Ondo State, Justice Toyin Olanrewaju-Akeredolu, is an old girl of St Anne’s.
For years, many of us used an English Language text book co-authored by Mrs Omolara Ogundipe (an old girl of St Anne’s) and Tregido. Needless to say, this list is endless.
The missionaries who founded the school laboured for all in the hope that Nigerian girls would be sustained in the light of the Holy Spirit. Thus, pupils of the school are taught to labour right from their first day in school, in order to serve their country with all their strength and faith. They are taught that it is their sacred responsibility to transmit the culture of the school wherever they are, so that all will know that they have integrity and are well trained. St. Anne’s girls are not only taught to be industrious, but to also work hard on anything they lay their hands on and be well organised. They are also taught to be independent and be willing to help all those around them, as it is the school’s tradition. It is expected that a St. Anne’s girl will have an open mind and be prepared to help others.
The school’s motto “Courage, Modesty and Sincerity” is expected to be upheld by its products. The symbols on the school’s crest are the Dove, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; the open book is the Bible, for it is the Holy Spirit that opens life, with its light for all, and the Palm Tree, which is a common tree that grows in the rainforest areas of Nigeria. No part of the palm tree is useless; hence it is a unique and outstanding tree. The bold lines on the crest represent rivers Niger and Benue of Nigeria.
The patron Saint of the school is Saint Anne, who is regarded as the mother of the Virgin Mary. Her feast day is 26th July, hence the school’s birthday. Saint Anne is also said to be the patron Saint of Miners. There are six houses in the school and each house has its own colour. They are St. Catherine (Red); St. Claire (Yellow); St. Faith (Green); St. Hilda’s (Brown); St. Mary (Blue) and St. Margaret (Orange). Each house celebrates its birthday by entertaining the whole school for a week. St. Catherine’s birthday is April 30; St. Claire’s August 12; St. Faith’s October 6; St. Hilda’s November 7; St. Mary’s March 2 and St. Margaret’s June 10. The house birthdays are held in remembrance of the saints after whom the houses were named. In her sermon in those days, the then principal (during my own time), Mrs. C. F. Bullock (nee Groves) charged girls to live good Christian lives, love, as well as respect the simple things of life. On Christian virtues, an extract from her letter during the school’s 120th anniversary would illustrate this better. “I have only been able to record very few of the very many happy hours I have spent in the lab, classroom, chapel and stadium, encouraging people to think harder, search more diligently, jump higher, speak kindlier, forgive more freely, tolerate more widely, care more deeply and work for the common good and tell you of the joy it had given me when they succeeded.”
Adapted from the narrative of Dr. Bello-Fadaka, an old girl of Saint Anne’s School, Ibadan, Deputy Registrar at the University of Lagos, and SSASOGA Nigeria Website