One of my most memorable period is the year 1966. I attended an all-boys secondary that was run more like a seminary and monastery. The education primarily European with emphasis on Bible studies. I studied British history, Roman and Greek civilizations.
Because Latin was the official language of the Catholic Church,the masses were celebrated in Latin and we were required to study the language.
I found the endless conjugations of verbs (amo, amas, amat) very dreary. We also had to cram numerous declensions of nouns, moods tenses and genders. Because Latin has been dead for a thousand years, no one knows for sure how the language sounds. Latin experts guess how it sounds from inferences from Romance languages.
"Latin is a dead language," I argued with my teacher. In fact, it is not the official language of any nation. Nor is the native language of any living person. Therefore, it is not possible for a child to learn this language at home from her parents.
Latin was only spoken by Catholic priests to a congregation that does not understand the language. As an altar boy and a member of the church choir, I found myself speaking and singing in Latin.
Di! Ecce hora! Uxor mea me necabit! (God, look at the time! My wife will kill me! )
Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur. (Oh! Was I speaking Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.)
"Why do I have to study Latin?" I asked my teacher.
"French, Italian, and Spanish are the 'living versions' of Latin," he explained. I also learned that more than half of the words in the English language were derived from Latin. These include: school, academics, athletics, curriculum, pencil, paper, class, socialize, and music.
As a research physicist, I learned that, four centuries ago, Latin was the primary language used by scholars. Sir Isaac Newton, wrote his book "Principia" in Latin, instead of in his native English language. It dawned on me that Latin is a bridge from my thoughts to those of Isaac Newton.
... TO BE CONTINUED ... IN MY BIOGRAPHY
"I have one advice to give to our politicians. If they have decided to destroy our national unity, then they should summon a round-table conference to decide how our national assets should be divided before they seal their doom by satisfying their lust for office. I make this suggestion because it is better for us and many admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, then I will venture the prediction that the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be a child's play if ever it comes to our turn to play such a tragic role." --- Nnamdi Azikiwe, December 1964, "A Dawn Address" As reported in Kirk Greene's book (page 21]
"Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no 'Nigerians' in the same sense as there are 'English,' 'Welsh,' or 'French.' The word 'Nigerian' is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not." [From Path to Nigerian Freedom by Obafemi Awolowo]
The little boy stands in front of my former room-and-parlour residence. (Yoruba Road, Sapele, Nigeria. Photo taken on 11-29-00)
(L-R) Francis Ndaguba Emeagwali, Edith Chinwe Emeagwali, James Nnaemeka Emeagwali, Martin Ikemefuna Emeagwali, Agatha Iyanma Emeagwali, Charles Emeagwali, Florence Onyeari Emeagwali, Philip Chukwurah Emeagwali (Agbor Street, Uromi, Nigeria. December 24, 1962)
In December 1965, We went to Agbor motor park and market to purchase school related items: uniforms, plates, spoon, fork, knife, Biro ball point pen, Bournvita (advertising slogan "Sleep sweeter, Bournvita"), Nescafe coffee, St. Louis sugar, Peak milk, Cabin biscuits, M & Ms Candy ("The milk chocolate melts in your mouth - not in your hand"), Horlicks ("Horlicks guards against night starvation"), towel, comb, Omo washing powder ("Omo adds brightness to whiteness"), a pair of sandals, tennis shoes, cutlasses. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.
A group photo of my dormitory. Half of my school mates were twice my age. I was treated like a kid. (Saint George's Grammar School, Obinomba, Nigeria. Circa 1966)
A few days later, I fled from this school as my family hid in refugee camps during an ethnic cleansing in which 50,000 Igbos indigenes were killed.
(Saint George's Grammar School, Obinomba, Nigeria. Circa April 1967).
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