Ikoyi Club… Wedlock made in 1938
The club premises were beehive of activities when this reporter visited, with posh cars, obviously owned by members, pulling in and out. While some were at the clubhouse this afternoon for leisure, others came for business meetings and general networking.
Established in 1938, Ikoyi Club is product of two clubs, the European Club and The Lagos Golf Club.
Today, the club has grown from its ‘European Only’ membership into one of the best examples of multiracial clubs, with worldwide membership. The modern day Ikoyi Club 1038 occupies approximately 456 acres of land, and provides first class facilities for members and their families.
The various sporting events that could be enjoyed at the club include Golf, Swimming, Lawn Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Table Tennis and Billiards/Snooker. Here is a high profile luxurious club that has over the years, harmonised its foreign origin with local culture to provide elite leisure services for its members and their families. Though security there is generally safe, steeping into this club requires some deep pockets; it’s for the big boys.
The main House Facilities comprise a reception area, large symmetrical hall known as the Rotunda (where formal Club events take place), which overflows into the Patio Bar, an expansive lounge that house a medium sized dancing floor and a roomy bar named the main bar. There’s also a well-equipped Kitchen with its own internal convenience, changing room and a kitchen administrative office occupied by the Chef.
A standard 18-hole golf course, the facility hosts the Nigerian Open Golf Championship, attracting golfers from all over the world. The Lawn Tennis section has nine standard courts, with a centre court complex with a capacity of sitting 1,000 spectators.
The club now has a fully air- conditioned squash court with a rear wall of glass and a sitting gallery for spectators. However, the Golf section remains the centre of attraction.
According to the Secretary of the Club, Tokunbo Ogundipe, who is responsible for admittance of new members into the fold, membership is open to both Nigerians and foreigners.
“At that time in 1938, all the members were expatriates; it was later on in the late 50s that Nigerians started becoming members of the club. So, traditionally, it’s been run as a traditional British club,” he said.
Over the years, membership of the club has now been extended to nationals of other countries.
“So, you got the Chinese, you got the Koreans, you got the Indians… quite a large blend of foreign nationals here. Anybody can be a member, once you meet the criteria. The criteria we would rather keep to our chest, until someone comes to make an enquiry. Once you are interested and you meet the criteria, you are in; the criteria isn’t really too stiff,” he said.
Though the rich blend of different nationalities had been a major strength for the club over the years, it seems to be losing that grip.
“In no small measure, it helps the club, but in recent times, we’ve actually lost ground in that area. That’s why I think organisers of this year’s anniversary were trying to bring back that ear. I don’t know whether it’s because of security and the nation, but we discovered that quite a number of expatriates are no longer patronising the club. So, there’s of course a move now to try and engender their interest in the club again. The whole essence of the club is that, this should be a place where members could come in and interact with members of the wider global community that are present in Nigeria,” Ogundipe hinted.
For a club with such rich background, sustaining its legacy remains a major task for the current managers, who have been working day and night to keep the history alive.
“I think it’s basically because of the rules of the club; there are clearly laid out guidelines with regards to how the club should be run. We also have a Board of trustees that are very keen to ensure that the standards are met; that the club is run properly and that from year to year, we keep on developing, that we don’t rest on our past achievements. We are always forward looking; we want to do better than what was done in the past.”
According to the club’s chairman, Major General Mufu Balogun, who assumed office on February 25, 2015, the dream of giving the club a five-star rating in the hospitality industry is still very much alive.
“During my campaign, we had a vision for the club. Our vision is to make our club have a five star rating in the hospitality industry. This we have been pursuing very vigorously. We also want very high service delivery for the club, delivered by highly motivated members of the staff; this we are also pursing vigorously. So, I will say, so far, so good,” he said.
Just recently, Ikoyi Club celebrated its 78th anniversary under the theme, Harmony in Cultural Diversity, in accentuating the global membership composition of the Club.
Island Club…Premier Social Club With Heritage
By Daniel Anazia
Founders of the country’s premier social club, the Island Club of Lagos, have the objectives of promoting good fellowship and inter-racial harmony, which they pursued relentlessly.
Founded on October 29,1943 by 50 Nigerians and non-Nigerians including Sir Adeyemo Alakija, Chief S.O Gbadamosi, Bishop A.W. Howells, V.T. Fox, J.H Davies, D.O Johnson, Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu, Sir A.O. Omololu, Dr. R.O. Taylor-Cole, J.F. Winter, H.C.B. Denton, F.H. Bowen, Ernest S. Ikoli, Sir Loius Mbanefo, Chief J.K Randle, Chief W.H. Biney and Percy Savage, at the private residence of Mr. Ladipupo Odunsi.
The founding of the club at the time was a bold initiative, as Lagos was a vital metropolis where every one of the multitudinous races of West Africa and from other continents was represented. The city at the time was no melting pot, and there was little or no social contact between the races.
The Club was by no means the first to be established in the Lagos, and history recorded that it was the first to have set itself a socially constructive and, in the context of the period, politically desirable goal, and one that was not limited to serving just the recreational needs of the elite, even as the late Sir Adeyemo Alakija was elected the first Chairman of the Club.
According to investigation, the founders of the club while establishing it, had reasoned that trust and understanding of each other’s point of view, could best be engendered through informal contact, in convivial environment of equality and mutual respect for each other.
A foundation member of the club, Mr. F.H Bowen, a tutor from Caribbean Islands, at Kings College, Lagos, whose colleagues were Europeans, could only interact wit his white colleagues professionally during school hours, but as soon as the school was over a racial barrier descended between him and them. They would have nothing to do with him until eight o’clock the following morning.
The club made its mark in a spectacular manner, when it fought against racial segregation and successfully got the backward policy abrogated. At the time, public facilities were segregated along racial lines. The best hotels were out of bounds for the black people in Nigeria at the time, and, of course social and sporting clubs were also segregated.
Membership of the club has grown from 50 in 1943 to 7,000 spread across the 36 states of Nigeria and abroad.
Speaking about the club, its president, Oladipo Okpeseyi said that members are proud of their heritage, adding that as the peacock (the club emblem), they always strife to sustain the good image of the club, which has now developed into an institution in the social life of Nigerians.
On people join or should join the Club, Okpeseyi said that in an increasingly complex world, Island Club Lagos provides one of the most basic human needs- the need for friendship and fellowship, stressing that the club was formed for business development.
“Everyone needs to network. Island club consists of a cross section of business communities.”
“Island Club Lagos is fun, a lot of fun; each meeting is fun. The club projects are fun, so also are the social activities and the service.
The social tempo of the club has been kept up, the games — Billiards, Draughts, 45, Cards, Table Tennis, Lawn Tennis, Squash are alive and of full activities. The club today, boasts of virile younger members who are bringing in youthful enthusiasm, particularly with the club’s Friday jump nights and the monthly conviviality of Elders’ Forum.”