The “Snake Catcher”

Frank James(1962-66)

Managing Director of a Real Estate development company based in Lagos.


I remember Brother Thomas as probably the youngest of our beloved Reverend Brothers who were responsible for administering St Joseph’s College, Ondo. He was of average height and had blue eyes. Brother Thomas was always smiling even when he was in the process of disciplining an erring student. You would therefore be grossly mistaken to take his boyish and friendly look for granted if you ran afoul of school rules. He absolutely hated it when you lied.
I remember Brother Thomas and Brother Bernard (as well) quietly showing up at our dormitory windows in their white cassock after lights out. Many of us used to get caught in the act of not going to bed when we were supposed to. I remember Brother Thomas as the ” snake catcher”. I used to marvel at his dexterity in capturing live snakes that ended up in the biology laboratory. He absolutely loved digging up snakes.
I once as a lucky member of a group of about four students went on an expedition with Brother Thomas to the Eastern part of Nigeria during the holidays.

Frank Segun James, 2020
We drove in the Brothers’ car and stopped at interesting places on our way to Asaba. We swam at a river on our route, sang, ate, and had loads of fun for about a week. Brother Thomas loved nature. He used to take groups of students on nature walks in the forest surrounding the school.
From this brief record of life in St Joseph, Brother Thomas along with the other Reverend Brothers did a good job molding the academic and moral development of all students of SJC. Many of our old students have turned out in various fields of endeavor and attained the peak of their careers. We owe these Reverend gentlemen a lot of gratitude.
Brother Thomas, at 90, I wish you a most wonderful birthday and pray God grants you many more years in good health.

The LaSalle Legacy

Francis Ojo (1967-71)

Francis Ojo
Brother Thomas, all these years have refused to fade away from memory. How can any of us write our memoir without a mention of him, Brother Bernard, Alphonsus, or Mel? His long white catholic robes, signposting his mission in Africa and by extension, on earth, his rustic black locally made rubber sandals, signifying simplicity and humility, his early morning herding of our youthful rebellious members to the Chapel. And oh, that funny ‘judicial intervention in the Zorro versus School case to prevent the rustication of ‘Zoro’ Akinbulumo. It was not until later years, further recollection and reflection that one began to understand, appreciate and marvel at the purpose of the De La Salle order, and the implementation of their mission to rescue minds and morals.
Today, as we celebrate the gift that Brother Thomas meant and still means to us, it is apposite to send the De La Salle a strong message of gratitude. Brother Thomas and the order achieved their purpose and though I do not fully know the mission statement, I am convinced that they achieved their aim substantially. They converted many souls to Christianity, developed minds intellectually and morally, left an indelible legacy in lessons of humility and sacrifice in service
I am convinced he is, today, a very happy man. I hope he finds us part of the source of his fulfillment as he was foundational to the successes we have recorded. I hope we can further his happiness by extending our own personal opportunity to others the way he did his.
St. Joseph alumni have been very successful in leadership and followership positions in Government, Clergy, art, and the professions. Without the early intervention in our lives, one wonders how much of this success we would be discussing today.
On behalf of myself and my other two older brothers, Joseph Ojo, Stephen Ojo and our family, we thank Brother Thomas for his God-ordained service to Africa, we thank God for the gift of long and useful life and wish him many more years of happiness and grace.

The Profile of a Blessed Man: Brother Thomas McCrea

Bimbola Oladapo (SJC 1961-1966) Senior Prefect, 1966

Writing a Tribute to someone of Brother Thomas’ status, who I hold in high esteem, has posed a great challenge to me. This is more so as one is forced to recall memories of more than 50 years ago. These were indeed our formative years when our bones were not calcified. Brother Thomas came to our lives as a mentor, teacher, playmate, comic star, and above all like a father who took good care of his numerous children. Indeed, He came, He saw, and He conquered: this latter saying summarizes his sojourn in St Joseph’s College, Ondo.

BimbiBimbi Oladapo, 2021

It’s impossible not to remember the numerous youthful pranks we all indulged in and how he thwarted most of our escapades and pranks. Brother Thomas was also part and parcel of every recreational game and had beaten us in most of the games. We owe our success first to God, but Brother Thomas played a significant part in molding our lives. He is indeed an enigma, who poured all his God-given energy/endowment into all of us at St Joseph’s College, Ondo. He indeed channeled our lives to a successful path.
May God bless you abundantly. Let me end by leaving you with Psalm 37: 37…”Mark the perfect man and observe the Righteous, the end of that man is peace.” This is indeed your profile as a man of God.
Please join me in wishing our indefatigable mentor, Brother Thomas, happy 90th birthday celebrations. Happy birthday Sir and blessings galore!

The Fortune of a Family Tree

Ebunlade Oladele Betiku, (SJC 332, 1963 – 67). Chartered Civil Engineer, with over 49years of postgraduate experience in both field and design office practice and still working as an Individual Road Infrastructure & Contract Management Consultant.

BetikuEbunlade Betiku, Form two pupil, SJC 1964
Rev Brother Bernard and Rev Brother Thomas worked, hand in hand to bless me and the Betiku lineage in a way that changed the lives of the entire family for good.
Having noticed that I was gifted but not from a rich family, they invited my father, GF Betiku, and Rev Brother Thomas took a personal interest in overseeing his training to become first an Accounts Officer and later the school Bursar. They also assisted my father by paying about 50% of my school fees. They continued paying my bursary even through my Higher School Certificate course at the Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro.
With the Government taking over of Mission schools, my father was absorbed into the Western State Civil Service. He was later transferred to other schools including Gboluji Grammar School, CAC Grammar School, and even Institutions in the present Ekiti State. He became empowered and could train not only me but my other siblings who would have probably dropped out of school or been forced to learn some trades.
My success in the WASC at St Joseph with nine A’s (11indices) which was the best in Ondo and environ that year (1967) inspired many of my siblings (I am from a polygamous family and have over twenty siblings) to not only attend St Joseph but to also choose Engineering as their career.

One of the experiences I remember with excitement was the time our Class captain (3rd year or so) wanted to scapegoat me by ordering me to report myself to the principal for noise making. There was strict discipline, so I had to obey even though I was not the only one talking.
Sensing some bad belle in the matter, both Rev Bernard and his Vice, Rev Thomas told me to come with them on a weekend excursion to Benin city. We stopped by the popular natural stream at Ifon for a refreshing swim and had a wonderful time that weekend. I can never forget the affection my family and I enjoyed from Rev Brother Thomas and the love showered on me by my schoolmates at our distinguished Institution, St Joseph’s College, Ondo.
I am eternally grateful.
God Bless you all and God Bless our mentor Rev Brother Thomas.

Ode to that great man

Francis Kehinde Awosika. SJC 461 (1965-1969) Senior Prefect 1969.
Nurse Practitioner Director and CEO Kenvic Healthcare PLC (Home Visiting Physicians), Eastpointe, Michigan, USA.

Brother Francis Thomas McCrea, yours is a life that excellently reflects a commendable service to humanity in the course of your long stewardship at my Alma mater, St Joseph’s College, Ondo, Ondo State, Nigeria. As a young man, you turned your eyes away from the glamor of the Canadian social life with all the accompanying youthful attractions. You chose instead, to come to the comparatively rural Ondo town (now a city) in dedication to, and in absolute

submission to the will of God. Consequent upon your humble spirit, and in total disregard for your own comfort, you worked tirelessly and selflessly, and you successfully nurtured hundreds of Nigerian adolescents to attain lives of fulfillment in their adult years. I vividly remember how, in your signature short pants, you would parade the school campus day and night to ensure an enduring peaceful learning environment. I can never forget your expertise in catching snakes which to a large extent, helped to get rid of dangerous snakes that would otherwise have constituted hazards to resident students. The opportunity for me to acquire secondary education, despite my humble background, was resultant of your magnanimity. This early benefit paved the way for my life success and eventual relocation to a better life in the USA with my wife and children 22 years ago. A true man of God you will forever remain, Brother Thomas. I salute and celebrate you on your 90th birthday anniversary. I wish you many more years of glorious and healthful existence. May the peace of God almighty continue to abide in you.

These Lines salute you not because thou art a
great ruler of people but it sings your praise
because thou art a Great Leader of People…
As Our Comrades would put it “Whom the Cap Fits”…
Like Da Vinci, Like Hippocrates…
To You do we etch these Salient Lines…
Lines that Honor men that dance to the drumbeat
of the Spirits…
Men that see above the Alps, To Men That See
Through do we Chant these Odes…
We Lift up Voices We Lift up our Waists…
My Good Friends do come and dance to the Health
of this Great Man

Anthony Edmond John

Exceptional Motivator

Olumuyiwa (aka Kido Boy) Anthony Olawoki, PhD (SJC 5371966 – 1971)
Managing Geoscience Consultant, Geospectra Nig Ltd. Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria.

KidoBro Thomas is well-noted and respected for the early morning dormitory rounds to wake students up for morning Mass in the Chapel. Can you recollect that black water hose pipe? Carefully tucked into the long sleeve of his cassock. One friendly spank of the pipe will wake you up and get you into the open bathrooms within a minute. In Austin (Augustine) House, our senior Supo Omo”awo” had plenty of such spanking, because he will sleep sound and deep until Bro Thomas will arrive to wake him up!

I came to closer contact with Bro Thomas when I had a fracture on my left arm during a football match. Himself and Baba Bro Aphonsos “Leturee, God bless you”…our local Medical Director got me to the General Hospital as possible as they can. A Plaster Of Paris (POP) cast was fixed within 2 days, for the next three months for the bones to heal after the fractured bones were set to touch each other. Every level and form of comfort were provided by our caring Bro Thomas and Baba Leturee.
Bro Thomas and our dear Late Mr. J.R. Ola (Geography Teacher) worked with my parents to make sure that I did not continue my education in Form 3 with weak grades and low scores. So I enjoyed the rare privilege of being promoted from Form 3B to 3A in the following year, belonging to two sets…the College Entry 1966 set, and College Graduation 1971 set (guess I am still correct with the dates!!! ). Bro Thomas was always around my classroom to check my academic performance…and made sure I was not having USAID milk and gari in my knicker pocket during Prep.
Who can recollect the SJC football match at Akure in 1970? I think we played against the Teacher Training College. Correct? Bro Thomas got me to play the “Left In” position for a part of the football game. How I earned the position, I don’t know. Stature-wise, I was small compared to the others. The singular opportunity implanted in me the “You too can do it” spirit and eventually has become my driving force. It was a great motivation. Occasionally, I joked with my children that I played a football game for my school as if it was not just for about 30 minutes only during the entire Secondary School days.
During the WAEC period in 1971, an issue occurred. The WAEC representative, Mr. Gbago from the Lagos office suddenly showed up in the Examination Hall, and on a random search, a textbook related to the examination in progress was found in my locker to the surprise of all of us, and the School Authorities. How the textbook got there I don’t know, and I’m still wondering till now when I remember the issue. Bro Thomas carefully informed my parents of the incident and began to work the issue with WAEC that I will be the last person to cheat in the examination. He forwarded my school results for Forms 3A-5 to WAEC to support the school’s case and position. The Late Mr. J. O. Ola also engaged my parents, reassuring them that the issue will be resolved. Fast forward, WAEC did not release my results and that of another student with a textbook in his locker. Bro Thomas helped to gain admission to Aquinas College Akure for HSC using my GCE London results. THANK YOU, BRO THOMAS, FOR THE SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT DURING THE TRYING TIMES IN THE 1971-72 PERIOD.
Happy 90th Birthday anniversary celebrations. Many glorious returns of the blessed day. LONG LIVE BRO THOMAS, LONG LIVE ST JOSEPH COLLEGE (SJC)

The “Omnipresent” Thomas!

Isaac Akinboyewa (SJC 531: 1966-1970)
Texas – USA

IsaacIt is with great respect and from the deepness of a sincere heart that I wish Reverend Brother Thomas a successful celebration as he turns 90 this year 2022. Brother Thomas was the Principal of Saint Joseph’s College in Ondo, Ondo State of Nigeria (SJC) while I was a student in the Secondary School from 1966 till my graduating year in 1970. He was also the English Teacher in my last year.
Bro Thomas belongs to a group of the admirable set of characters that can be described as totally committed to love, caring, nurturing, and development, a group of people that are driven by God-given pursuit of quality and devotion to sincere development of the young generation to which I am personally blessed to have tremendously benefited from. I would personally describe the set as the nicest and the finest examples of honest, humble, and dedicated teachers in our world today. The list of this set of schoolteachers in our youths cannot be complete without mentioning other school leaders like Rev Brother Bernard, Rev Brother Alphonsus, and Mr. Ola. A set of honest disciplinarians and devoted persons, detailed in their dealings, devoted to their course, and purposeful in their plan, they find enthusiasm and fulfillment in their calling. Brother Thomas belongs to that set.
As students we were young and always behaved like youths. However, the strong but gentle and firm guidance of Brother Thomas saw us through those developmental ages. We hardly realized it then as we do today. SJC was a comparatively large school, on a large expanse of land with 2 soccer fields, with several student resident dormitories and a very large number of students, yet Brother Thomas knew almost everyone by name and could identify almost everybody by face. He was always around us. I remember he would take part with us on the Sports Field to play, in the Chapel to pray, work through the dormitories at siesta to see whose beds were vacant and going through all the classrooms at evening study sessions to identify those who were not in class. So close was he to everyone and everywhere that he would be privy to everything and anything amiss? Sincerely as youths then, we hated the closeness and the serious scrutiny at that time because like youths we wanted our own freedom and there was always something to hide no matter how trivial, but later realized how great a commitment and how industrious that was as we finished in SJC and moved on to greater experiences of life. Brother Thomas was always there, surprisingly unexpectedly several times, all to keep us in good check. Thank God I had a First-Class Hon. degree in Computer Sciences (University of Ibadan) and I am now a Computer Database Administrator in America but I can never forget the impact Brother Thomas had in my personal foundational and fundamental development. I will be forever grateful to him.
To the Almighty God be the Glory for his exemplary integrity and exquisite qualities. May the Almighty God continue to sustain and strengthen our own dear Principal (Reverend Brother Thomas) for longer life still, in good health and blessed peace, now and forevermore in Jesus Mighty Name Amen.
The “Indefatigable” Thomas
The good words to describe Reverend Brother Thomas and his lessons seem unlimited. I have earlier written Article 012 on my personal gratitude and prayers for him. I am submitting a second Article to describe two or three of my personal experiences with him to corroborate what others have presented. Is there anyone that had worked across the path of Reverend Brother Thomas that has not had a personal experience with him in a way that will impact life? I bet none. Everyone has had that personal experience and I do too and in fact a number of times. Here I am presenting two or three of them.
1st Incident – The “Unbeatable” Thomas
1970 was our final year, the senior year, which craves into our heads that we could do anything and get away with it. After all, no other senior class was above us to put us in check and no exams were in sight to cow us down. Moreover, the only people we feared were the Teachers and the Principal. Luckily the Teachers were not always there. We were in the boarding school and no Teacher stayed after school hours but guess who was there to be afraid of. And he was always there, O Yes, morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Well, we could at least gamble for the night because you wonder if Brother Thomas ever slept in those days. Okay, so far so good, we had a chance because this incident was in the night, a late night.
We had earlier heard that a new Hot and Deadly Chinese Movie had just arrived to be shown in a town called Coon Ka Coon interpreted as Blood for Blood where they would fight, kill and die. It was to be shown in the only Public Theater, the Rex Cinema, in the distant town center about five miles away from school. No cars, no bikes, and no mobility of any sort, but for us, that distance was only a dash to trek, especially when we had an event of great interest.
Hmmm, youths as we were, we really loved to watch those. And while school was in session, only Brother Thomas could stop us. O Lord! we yearned, “Let Brother Thomas have asleep, at least tonight”.
Everyone who dared decided to go to the movie and so we encouraged each other. The deal was to get every junior student warned to keep his mouth shut if the principal ever asked. I was afraid too because my uncle would be terribly mad to hear and my mom would cry her eyes out. But how can one miss such an interesting movie? I yearned and mumbled that prayer one more time for reassurance as we summoned great courage – A man does not die twice, aha! The die was cast (positive). I followed the multitude. Almost half of the senior class left that night to watch the movie showing from about 7.30 pm till about 9.30 pm. We moved into multiple groups.
We walked briskly and ran fast. Oh, we must have walked those five miles in five minutes. The Theater was packed full. It looked like every youth from every secondary school and all interested adults in town were present to watch the deadly movie. Getting a ticket at the entrance was like dew falling from the skies, hot, humid, sweaty, and noisy amongst long disorganized queues. However, with some patience and struggling we all seem to have gone in through that one major entrance, though with many inside standing having no more empty seats to sit. But Thank God we must have sighed that Brother Thomas was not there and no junior student had the gut to tell. Unfortunately, as youths, we had not thought through and we had forgotten that our empty beds were enough to betray us. Surely Brother Thomas could never have missed that.
Truly it was a very interesting movie. It was action-packed at every moment even though we did not follow or understand the story. A beating or a drawn sword drew great applause even before the actual strike. There was blood everywhere in the movie and the audience followed with a show of fists in support especially when the Bad Guys showed up. Everyone shouted, howled, yelled, screamed, and giggled. The concentration was superb. So, we successfully watched the movie to the end, and it was definitely interesting to us all. However, what really happened after was unexpected and very disruptive. Right at the entrance, everyone was struggling to get out of the main exit door and that was expected for the multitude. However, are we hearing Rev Brother Thomas was at the entrance? What? How did he get there? So many questions were running down our mouths and minds. Was he there before the movie ended or was, he just arriving? How did he know we were at the movie? How come he did not come into the theater? Could we disguise or how do we disguise? Were there any teachers along with him? Nobody could tell but … Look, that is not important now. The only thing that is most important is to see how to fly back to school and lay in bed. Hey, what were we going to do? The school was a good five miles away on the outskirts of town with only one terminal road eventually leading there. The whole place was in confusion as everyone tried to smuggle themselves out and disguise themselves within the huge crowd. Heeey the “Omnipresent” Brother Thomas only needed to sight your face at a distance, and he knows you by name. You had to stoop down amongst the crowd, NO that is not enough, you must run, I mean you have to fly over the buildings, over the roads, through the bushes, and by whatever means just get back to the hostel and be on your bed, pretending. It was a “scatter- scatter – get your ass out of the way if you could not fly enough”. That was a long night, and the Indefatigable Thomas was equal to the task.
He had caught a few students and arrested them in his car. For some of us yet physically uncaught, it was like animals running for dear life at the sight of a hungry lion. We ran like never before. About 3 miles away at a narrow river Bridge called Lisaluwa, there we sighted the strong light from a car. We knew it was Brother Thomas. Heeeey into the thick bush along the dangerous riversides, many of us dived. At least if you were not caught in the act, you could have a chance to deny it. We knew Brother Thomas must have seen us through those powerful headlamps but surprisingly he did not stop as we expected. He just sped past like he never saw us. Then we knew we were in big trouble. We knew he was speeding to dash through those hostels and dormitories. He knew us vividly, not only facially and nominally, but he also knew details of who sleeps in which dormitory and on which bed. Well, we knew him too, our invincible unbeatable insurmountable indefatigable Principal. We knew he was racing to go check who was missing on his bed at the hostel and we were sure there was no more hiding place for us. Yes, we knew him, we knew his way, we knew his methods and we knew his expectations of us. Just that we hated being so closely monitored, not knowing that those were wrong approaches to a successful life.
So he took his census and went home to rest, I guess he applied the Words of the Lord – Tomorrow would take care of itself … Mathew 6:34 – … for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
Did I not say it was a very long night? Oh, we thought, we wished Tomorrow would not come. Let the day not break yet. Finally, the next day was judgment day. Everyone he caught and he caught every one of us, either physically or missing from your bed last night. Everyone had to defend themselves. The tricky and smart always had something to say. Like a defensive Attorney and a Balanced Judge, if your defense is reasonable, coherent, and cannot be otherwise proved wrong, you go scuff-free. The weak, the inconsistent, and the defenseless must be disciplined. You need only a few to be seriously punished to serve as an example and deterrent to a whole city, not the whole city. That is the way of Reverend Brother Thomas. In the end, I was lucky to get a “Two Week suspension.” And I would never do that again.
2nd Incident – The Eagle Eye
I thought I said I would never do that again. Yes, but this is a different circumstance, it’s not a movie. Moreover, this one happened before the first in chronological order. In both cases, there are lessons to learn from our tireless passionate Principal.
This occurred while I was in Year 2 (1967), already a beginning senior who should know better than nothing escapes the eyes of Brother Thomas. He seemed to have an eagle or perhaps a third eye, I am serious. That day was a Saturday. One of the upper seniors had asked me to go fetch a pail of water for him in the morning. While completing the task, the bell rang to gather every student at the assembly, so I had no time to wash or take my bath, well so I thought. And who cared anyways about always bathing. We were all Boys in the school, no girls to show off to and no fashion to display. The only occasion that thrilled us to be properly and perfectly dressed up then was any visit to Saint Louis College, our Sister Catholic School. Oh, we would do anything to look our best, perhaps even borrowing some perfumes from friends for a superlative display of sight and sound. But this day was none of those, hence I did not care to even brush my teeth, after all, time was against me. So, I dressed up in a hurry to meet up with other students as they walked down to the assembly. Brushed no teeth, took no bath but wearing a well-ironed dress for the Teachers would notice that outwardly. However, and worst of all I wore no underwear pants (briefs).
Hey, who would even dare look back when Brother Thomas is walking behind us? He was coming behind and urging several dozens of students to double up to the assembly, yet he did notice it. “Why did he suddenly single me out to follow?” I started wondering. O Lord, what have I done? Well, perhaps I needed to walk faster so I doubled my pace. He moved faster and closer and closer. The faster I moved, the more he did to close up. Close enough, he gave me the First slap with an open fist in my buttocks. I am like “Oh! what did I do?” No questions so I moved faster still. He moved swiftly again and gave me a Second slap, harder than the First. Now I knew I was definitely in trouble but what was my problem? I tried running, thinking I was not fast enough. Then he ran quickly and pinched my bottom through my body and bones. Huh that hurts!
So now I had to stop to look at my Judge, standing in front of him with a guilty appeal for mercy, though I was yet to understand what was my sin? Then he simply looked at me eye to eye, then looked at my Bottom. He did that a couple of times like 3-4 times, and I got the message – It was not proper to wear no underwear briefs whilst in public. Sincerely I got the message and my head hung down in shame. The great Teacher, Brother Thomas never said a word then nor thereafter, but the lesson has been learned. Please don’t ask me if I ever did that again.

Promotion, Training, and other Surprises

Professor Matt IVBIJARO (1962-65)

I salute you, Rev Brother Thomas McCrea, an astute student administrator, a builder of youths, a distinguished teacher of the English language.
I am Matt IVBIJARO, SJC, 1962-1965, fondly known as Lobito; a retired Professor of Agricultural Entomology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria; an Environment consultant and author of books on the Nigeria environment.
When I came to SJC, Ondo in 1962, Rev Brother Thomas was the Vice-Principal. Towards the end of my first term in 1962, Brother Thomas informed me that SJC had decided to promote me to form 2 in the second term. He asked me what the reaction of my friends would be. I told him I would be glad to accept the promotion. At the end of 1962, Brother Thomas informed me that I had been offered the Western Region Scholarship for being the best candidate at the entrance examination to SJC.
In my form 3, 1963, Brother Thomas requested if I would be willing to be appointed the laboratory assistant in charge of the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics laboratories. I gladly accepted. I was responsible to Mr. Ian Beatty, our Chemistry teacher though a geology graduate. Beatty taught me how to catch snakes alive. We both began to catch snakes for the biology lab. He even brought a live python. We also caught a chameleon.
In the same form 3, Brother Thomas assigned a mower to me for cutting the track and field in front of the college whenever there would be an athletic event.
During the long vacation in form 4, 1964, I received a letter from the office of the Principal, Rev Brother Bernard to attend a 2-week Citizenship and Leadership Training Course at the Man O War Bay, Shasha close to Omo Forest Reserve. Along with me was a classmate whose name I cannot recall now. Brother Thomas gave us a pep talk before our departure. It was a highly demanding course physically and mentally.
I graduated from SJC in December 1965. In 1966, Rev Brother Bernard offered me a teaching appointment with my West African School Certificate. It was an incredible offer.
Brother Thomas welcomed me warmly to join the teaching staff. I was determined to make good of this opportunity and prepare for the Common Entrance Examination to the University of Ibadan.
Brother Thomas and late Rev Brother Bernard gave students responsibilities to prove and develop themselves.
You may wish to know, dear Brother Thomas, that a good number of SJC students who passed through the crucible of human development by you and Rev Brother Bernard are now at the helm of affairs in their various professions.
We celebrate you, Brother Thomas, and send our 90 hearty cheers to a quintessential visionary on his 90th birthday 🎂 anniversary, March 2, 2022.

Swimming in Ose River

Oladiran AYODEJI (1965-1969).

What a pleasure to write a few words on Brother Thomas McCrae. A no-nonsense, no-frills, teacher and mentor. Of course, I remember him in shorts, walking around, appearing like a ‘ghost’ when you least expected to see him. I remember his long flashlight. I remember his morning ritual of always coming to wake us up. Sometimes, he poured water on our sleepy heads so we could wake quickly and get ready for mass.
But what remains indelible to me was when he appeared one afternoon at my father’s cocoa depot close to our house. I was working with my siblings on cocoa beans, with our father making sure we put in a diligent effort. My father was totally taken aback to find a white man asking for his son. The impression my dad had was that his son had misbehaved so badly the school principal had come to make a report! Fear turned to joy when I learned Brother Thomas had come to invite me for a picnic trip to IFON after OWO. My father now had a picture of pride that his boy was going to be in the company of this foreign principal for a swimming trip to IFON. We headed to IFON, picking up a few other students who lived close to me. How Brother Thomas knew our different home addresses was to me more than a mystery!
The trip was most enjoyable. We bought some fruits on the way and got to IFON in the Peugeot station wagon that Brother Thomas brought. At IFON, we headed to a small river where Brother Thomas changed to his swimming trunks and enjoyed himself in the small river. All we did was watch in awe beholding our principal swimming like a kid. All of these were alien to my way of enjoyment and relaxation. To Brother Thomas, it appeared we made his day! It was such a great joy to get home, surrounded by many people in my house asking what I did with the OYINBO. I never had the opportunity to thank Brother Thomas for taking me on his picnic. That single outing changed my ‘status’ at home and especially with my parents! Thank you, Brother Thomas.
We celebrate you on this occasion of your 90th birthday. You have been greatly used by God to bless our lives. I pray that grace and peace continue to multiply for you. We love you.


Dr. Ajibike Olukunle Akinkoye
(1962 – 1966; SJC 255)
Author, Editor, Publisher, Retired Professor & Pastor.

JibikeIt is difficult not to repeat some of the things other old students have written. They are inspiring and enjoyable to read. However, there is at least one experience that was probably unique to me.
Before I was admitted to SJC, I used to read all the newspapers and magazines to which my father subscribed at the time, and all the books he brought into the house. My father was a teacher at Ondo Boys’ High School (now Ondo High School).
After I entered St. Joseph’s College, my appetite for reading only grew. By the end of my third year, I had read all the novels in the school library. My elder brother, Dr. Olugbemi Akinkoye, who was then working in Lagos, would buy up most of the novels on annual sale at Kingsway Stores in Lagos and send them to me. I just loved reading. However, I did not always read at the authorized hours. Late at night, I would pull my bedsheets and cover cloth down the sides of my bed (to block out the light of the torch I was using) and lie down under the bed to read until the wee hours of the morning. One day, Brother Thomas caught me reading at an “unholy hour” and pulled me out from under the bed. He led me out to the corridor of the dormitory. I thought bleakly that my days at St. Joseph’s were over.
Instead of the tongue-lashing and punishment I had expected, Brother Thomas simply admonished me not to stay up so late at night because it was not good for my health and my growth. Then, later that day, when he learned that I had read all the novels in the school library, he brought me some books from the private library of the Reverend Brothers! He gave me the nickname “Bookworm” and only cautioned me to “get enough sleep” each night. I think I also read all the books in the Brothers’ private library.

It was fun to later read and study great writings from around the world until I obtained my first degree (First Class Honors, University of Ibadan), as well as my Master’s and Doctoral degrees (French and English) from the University of Bordeaux, France. I have written a few books myself, and I have edited and published over thirty books for others. The seed was planted by many people in my early years and thoroughly watered by Brother Thomas. I cannot forget.
Merci beaucoup, Brother Thomas. Blessings on your 90th birthday!