Wednesday, 2 December 2015


Supreme of Eiye confraternity aka ‘Air Lords’ is a brotherhood, we called it ‘setting’ but it’s a way of life. Now the question of its formation has caused lots of distraction among the public and members alike!  ‘It is indeed noteworthy that the fallacy of the claim of AE1963 becomes immediately obvious and the foundation upon which it derives its name.

Be that as it may, at a seminar organized by the National Association of Air Lords at Birch Freeman High School; Akobi Crescent, Surulere on Saturday, 4th June 1988,(yours sincerely was present at the seminar),  Pa Adegoke Kolade Adeniji, Ibaka Emeritus presented a paper on “EIYE – ORIGIN, CONCEPT AND EVOLUTION”. The seminar was chaired by Highly Rugged father of Airlords, Professor M. A. Fafunso aka Fafo of blessed memory.
Fast-forward, when was the birth date of Eiye?  Then read the entire paper unedited below:

                             “EIYE – ORIGIN, CONCEPT AND EVOLUTION”
Delivered at a seminar organized by the National Association of Air Lords at Birch Freeman High School; Akobi Crescent, Surulere on Saturday, 4th June 1988.

1988 is quite a marathon distance from 1965 when Eiye was born, many things have changed and are still changing. Eiye itself has changed and with it the present speaker. I believe it is not an accident, your invitation to me to tell a story, a story of the Concept and Birth of Eiye. What I do not quite understand is why the organizers, did not look for a typical present day story-teller, I mean the type you read about or see everywhere you go these days. The type, in fact who will edit out the sordid part of any story, or completely re-write history. Our country is replete with men and women who would want to rewrite Nigeria’s past. Says a friend, “influential Nigerians spend the first half of their life soiling their hands to make it, and the second half struggling to wash it clean! That is the reason I have confess that I feel highly honoured to be invited to tell this story like it is, and I sincerely feel the organizers of this seminar ought to be commended for a job well done.

In the beginning, there was a Student of Physics who resided at Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan. His name was Gregory Dele Nwakpele. Although he hailed from Usele-Ukwu in Bendel State, he was a Lagos boy having attended both primary and secondary schools in that metropolitan seat of the Nigerian government. Dele was fondly called ‘Oga mi’ by his close associates. His understanding of Yoruba language is impeccable and his use of idioms and proverbs in that language will confound most scholars of the language. It was at one of our usual rap sessions which centered on issues international and national as well as ethnic and personal that he off-handedly named our usual informal group ‘Eiye o ni sasun, eiye nbuta’ meaning, the bird has no cooking pot but eats the best ‘pepper-soup’”.

The statement immediately caught the fancy of everyone present and in a few days metamorphosed into a favourite exclusive whistle-call among the group. In a short time the group had emerged as a semi formal group and every member consulted it even on very personal matters.

Something of note also happened to the group at this time. A certain friend of the group, Tunji Marquis, easily the most popular disc jockey in the country enjoyed playing his most crazy records for the group every morning at 0600 hours. In no time at all tongues were wagging in town about the real identity of Eiye. At this juncture it is pertinent to identify certain members of the Eiye group.
- Tunde Gidando now Aluko
- Jide Osuntokun
- Segun Idowu
- Dele Nwakpele
- Folabi Epega
- Bode Sowunmi
- Bode Fadase
- Bayo Adenubi
- Goke Adeniji, and a few others.

The unifying password was the, “Eiye oni sasun” whistle while a regular longer than usual dining table located very close to the dining hall entrance was our thrice daily rendezvous. It was also a very curious fact that almost every member of the group belonged to an existing campus club – Pyrate, Buccaneer, Sigma, Inner Circle, etc. and the goings-on in those clubs formed the basis of some of our discussions. More than the rest some rigid regulations imposed by most clubs became the butt of our jokes and soon we started asking why it was impossible to have a club sans regulations about mode of dressing, what and how and when to eat, what girl-friends to have and how they should behave!

Soon enough it became noticeable that genuine desire to be free from bondage, form ill-conceived regulations and obnoxious taboos. There was the voice of rebellion against the tin-gods of existing fraternities but there was no confrontation. Answer was found in the creation of an alternative to the norm – the birth of “Eiye”. But forming a club around Eiye was no easy matter as all members of the group agreed in principle to live the birds’ life of freedom and unrestricted expression. Formalization in form of a club, some argued, will end up just like the very ones we were criticizing. Recognition was all we needed just as all God’s creatures recognize the presence of birds. Even registration of the club with the Students’ Union was tabooed. Freedom was the name of the game! We would get together anytime we felt like, discuss issues and disperse – no note-taking, no ceremonies. As for objectives, we would do things as they came – no hard and fast rules about what we could do or not do. There were arguments but in the end the issue of forming a club was resolved the Eiye way – i.e. to take life and all therein is as they come.

Thus in April 1965 the first Eiye Converge was held in the Common Room of Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan. The card which invited guests to the converge stated as follows:
Awon Eiye
Mr. & Mrs. …………………………………………………….. to their
First ibuta, holding at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall Common Room

The ibuta was a resounding success and became the talk of the campus for many months after. It confirmed Eiye’s original belief that rules and regulations do not make clubs. From this first experiment Eiye Confraternity became unique in its total rejection of all social laws, regulations and conventions as well as its adherence to the principle of doing what comes naturally. There were no hard and fast rules about dress and mode of dressing which bugged most student clubs. Eiye was never anti-government or authority. In fact such matters seldom transpired among us, but was left securely to the Students’ Union. Rather, attention was focused on Eiye and its habits – the model of behavior of all members.
We adopted names of birds according to observed similarity of characteristics between bird and man. Thus Ibaka became the name of the group’s lead singer, Okin the name of the smallest, daintiest member, Ogongo the tallest; Aparo the dirtiest and Adan the pub crawler. Pepper and all kinds of grain formed the core of our menu while palm wine and natural fruit juices served as nectar. Mutual respect reigned supreme and violence was unheard-of since Eiyes always know their ranking, naturally. There was no pulling of ranks in any way as your name within the group is your instrument of office. Relationship with other clubs was very cordial as some Eiyes’ maintained their membership of those clubs.

Please stop me if this is beginning to sound like a fairytale… perhaps what we were really doing was creating fairy land in our real world. As an active participant and first Oba-Eiye I have never again enjoyed the bliss and happiness that was such an integral part of Eiye life. You must want to know about our campus girl friends – well let me tell another side story. One Eiye was going to introduce my girl friend to another Eiye and he said, ‘this is Ibaka’s girl friend, Ibakasie’. From that time on any girl in my company was Ibakasie to the Eiyes.

The freedom and unconventionality of Eiye were its irresistible magnet in those early years. At hall dinners, Students’ Union, social parties and many other student gathering, members of Eiye Confrat were the cynosure of all eyes partly because of the novelty of the group and partly because of the uncertainty of its goal and thrust. Questions flew in different directions about the real intention of the group and very little came in form of an answer. After a few months everyone quietened down into a ‘wait and see’ posture. But even though the air of uncertainty pervaded the entire atmostphere of Eiye’s birth very many students signified interest in our membership. In consonance with Eiye Culture they were all welcomed and registered. I cannot remember that anyone was turned back inspite of the rush which attended that first year registration.

Mr. Chairman, fellow Eiyes’ I lived two years of full Eiye life at the University of Ibadan and since leaving the portals of that great institution have not stopped living the life of an eiye. Once a very dear friend tried to introduce me into Rotary and I could not cope because of my love of social freedom and total rejection of any kind of regimentation.
I guess being an Eiye is a matter of one’s inner being! For a man who loves his freedom and hates social sanctions based on someone’s or the ruling classes’ whims and caprices, Eiye is the answer. What kind of a man would sign himself off to a weekly dinner on a particular day and at a particular place on the dot of a particular time – a Rotarian of course. Please do not get me wrong I am only thinking aloud. I do not even like dinners and when I eat them I want to be able to choose the place and time and also the company.
To rehash a biblical passage from Jesus’ teachings “Look at the birds of the air, the grass of the field and the lilies of the valley, they toil not neither do they reap, but even Solomon in all his glory was not more beautifully arranged than any of them.” Or better still, “Dost thou not perceive that all creatures both in heaven and earth price God and the birds also, extending their wings? The Koran XXIV v 625.

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