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Ikoyi 1938… 83 years of remarkable achievements, innovation

By Gbenga Salau
03 October 2021   |   4:15 am
The building housing Ikoyi Club 1938 distinctly bears the aura of those constructed during the colonial era or the early years of the birth of Nigeria, although the gatehouse is a huge contrast, as it exhibits a touch of modernity.

Deputy Chief of Staff to Lagos Governor, Mr. Gboyega Soyannwo; Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso; his counterpart for Justice & the Attorney General, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN); wife of the Chairman of Ikoyi Club 1938, Mrs. Lawal Mumuni; her husband, Mr. Ademola Mumuni; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Vice Chairman of the club, Mr. Akinwunmi Akintola and others, cutting the 83rd anniversary cake.<br />

The building housing Ikoyi Club 1938 distinctly bears the aura of those constructed during the colonial era or the early years of the birth of Nigeria, although the gatehouse is a huge contrast, as it exhibits a touch of modernity. And undoubtedly, it is this ability to blend the old and modern that has kept the club going through the years, enabling it to remain vibrant and relevant.

So, it was not surprising, when the club recently rolled out the drums to celebrate its 83rd anniversary, that the theme of the commemoration was: ‘Ikoyi Club 1938: Past, Present and Future.’ Apparently, the club is not resting on its oars; the improvement continues, despite the remarkable achievements recorded over the years.

To rejoice with the association, as it marked this important milestone, were dignitaries from all walks of life, who joined in the festivities and programmes, including lectures, presentations, charity walk and parties. One of the highlights of the event was an insight into its past, a documentary on the club’s trajectory, which was relayed on Day two of the commemoration. This was shown after the producer, Mr. Lanre Idowu, provided detailed evolution of the club through the eight decades and three years of its existence.

Taking guests down the memory lane, Idowu explained that the club was born from the union of old European Club and the Lagos Golf Club on the eve of World War II. At that time, it held its own in the comity of clubs, catering to members’ recreational needs.

He said: “It remains a sturdy oak. Majestic in carriage, protective in the spread of its luxuriant leaves, and illustrious in origins, our club proudly bears the scars of its rich history, and is positioned to remain a reference point in best practices.  

“Ikoyi Club 1938 may have started as a colonial outpost, designed to provide recreational relief for members that are drawn from one privileged race. It may have shut its doors at a point against the owners of the land, but it has reinvented itself into a cherished institution that remains the clear leader in ennobling values of corporate governance and positive practices.  

“Taught by the lessons of history, Ikoyi Club 1938 has recreated itself as a melting pot of elite privilege, united in the love for recreation as a binding cord of global harmony. Our club is a reminder of what was rich about the past, what is good about the present, and what is promising about the future.”

To Idowu, the fact that the club has existed for 83 years in a country where the average lifespan is 60, is no mean feat.

“In human terms, an 83-year-old is an octogenarian, who, everything being equal, is experienced, wise, and accomplished. Such a person has survived World War II, witnessed Nigeria’s struggle for, and attainment of political independence. Such a person has lived through the Nigerian Civil War, eight military administrations, (Ironsi, Gowon, Mohammed, Obasanjo, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, and Abubakar.) Such a person has also witnessed seven civilian administrations (Balewa/Azikiwe, Shagari, Sonekan, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari).

“In short, such a person has been a witness to the rich, but troubled history of the place in creation known as Nigeria. As an institution, Ikoyi Club 1938 has lived through all the challenges enumerated earlier and has survived them. As an institution, our club is older than Nigeria as a country. Our club can boast of a more stable governance structure than that of the country. “Perhaps, if we had more of our members making their services available in the political arena, Nigeria would have benefitted from their experience to understand better, the relationship between the centre and the states, as we have done between the Main House and the sections, guided by the moderating influence of our trustees.”

Idowu disclosed that as a sports and recreational club, Ikoyi Club 1938 occupies a place of honour in Nigeria and, indeed, Africa. “Before the Island Club and the Lagos Country Club were established in 1943 and 1949 respectively, Ikoyi Club 1938 was. But before Ikoyi Club 1938 was founded, there had been Lagos Lawn Tennis Club (1895), Apapa Club (1912), and Yoruba Tennis Club (1926).”

Aptly titling his anniversary lecture: ‘The past, the present and the future: The Lagos Experience,’ Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, thanked the Chairman of Ikoyi Club 1938, Mr. Ademola Lawal Mumuney, for invitation to be the chief host and special guest of honour.

The governor disclosed that his lecture was “about the ‘Time’ value chain and concepts that feel so familiar, yet can be so challenging to put into concrete terms.”

He said: “We are all familiar with the past, the present and the future. They are part and parcel of our lives and our existence on earth. If there is one thing we all share in common, it is that we have a past, are currently participating in the present, and all look forward to a future that is better than today.

“Time is a universal concept, across all human cultures, languages and contexts. It is one of the most important measures of our lives. One of the first things any child learns is that we live by the measurement of time: hours, days, weeks, months, years, and so on. Time is actually one of the concepts most philosophised about, through the ages. Many of these sayings and proverbs and quotes I am about to share will sound very familiar.”

Reminding guests that time waits for no one, just as time is money and procrastination is the thief of time, Sanwo-Olu stated that those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

“Study the past, if you would define the future,” he said. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We need not destroy the past. It is gone. The best way to predict the future is to create it. Always remember that the future comes one day at a time. Understand your past, live this moment, and dream your future. The past is never dead, it’s not even past.

“Let’s for a moment put the spotlight on Ikoyi Club, the centre of today’s celebrations, and briefly examine its relation to past, present and future. From very humble beginnings, it has grown and flourished. It has been 83 years of being one of the most important social institutions in Lagos and Nigeria. The past was not always something to be proud about, as we all know the battle that Nigerians fought to be seen as equals in this club.”

Noting that many great persons have passed through the club, Sanwo-Olu appreciated and acknowledged their contribution, saying, “They have strived and laboured, and we are inheritors of their legacy. We owe it a duty to pick up from where they stopped and carry on.”
On his part, Mumuney reiterated that the club remains incontrovertibly the prime choice among many seekers of recreation and the sporting centre for multi-racial harmony, outstanding facilities, serene ambience, as well as governance that works peacefully and effectively. He pledged that the club would readily deliver on the expectations of members and the society.

He said: “Even though our celebration this year is low-key, we cannot but appreciate the mercies of God upon us to witness this year’s event. As your general committee, we have very much relied on God’s strength and wisdom to deliver on the expectations of our members. We trust Him to endow us continually with the ability to uplift our dear club to greater heights,” he said.

Mumuney stated that the club has come a long way from 1938, when members were predominantly foreigners to the present when it has quite a number of Nigerians. He explained that the club is re-engineering to make it attractive to young minds and correct the notion that it was meant for old people or retirees.

The anniversary celebration was rounded off, yesterday, with a charity walk to create awareness on mental health. There were also parties for the elders and children.