If Government College Katsina is Treated as Public Memory… – Baba-Bala Katsina
I was shocked to see GCK in its present condition. Every structure that defines the college has dilapidated. As a student of history and one with special interest in the study of MEMORY PROFILING, I feel that, such an institution which history and achievements have constituted even national memory shouldn’t have been left to decay to this extant. If the state and general public treat it as part of public memory worth preserving, it would not have only been properly maintained, but continue to be known as centre of excellence as in the past.
I learned that, there are some things the public mind subconsciously considers in profiling its memory in Katsina: the date of establishment of a structure or place (the father back the date, the pride the people take in it), what it represents, what it means to public life and how much pride the state and the people drive from it determine its place in public memory. By this standard, GCK is qualified to be treated as public memory.
As a centre of learning, the college had produced all category of people who built Katsina to what it’s today and served in various capacities both at national and international levels. It produced distinguished academics, technocrats, judges, politicians, royal fathers, artisans and anyone else from top downward to office assistant.
The incumbent President of Nigeria is its Old Boy, so is the former IGP, the President of Court of Appeal and many other prominent figures. The knowledge and values they acquired from the college which account for their ability to excel are immeasurable.
From the time of its establishment to as recent as 2008, it graduated significant number of people enough to make a community. Because of the number of its Old Boys, it won’t be exaggeration to say that there is no family that doesn’t have a GCK Old Boy in it.
It goes therefore to mean that there’s no family in Katsina city at least which history isn’t attached to GCK. That’s why it creates a sense of nostalgia and patriotism in public mind whenever it’s mentioned; its excellence applauded; and, its history told. The history of the college has interwoven into the history of individuals, families, the state and the nation. What else is required for an institution to be seen as a state memory?
The college being almost a century old, is old enough to have by now collected some objects, instructional and adminstrative materials that are no longer in use in modern time.
There should be a room where such materials are kept to serve as memory of the college, of the state and of the society at large. Part of its structure are such as well going extinct in Katsina city landscape and by extension Northern Nigeria’s. Preserving them, together with the mentioned materials, is to preserve the history of colonial infrastructure and of education.
It would tell the history of Katsina struggling to catch up with modernity in the 20th Century and chronicle its determination to reclaim its position as a critical Hausa state in modern Nigerian history. If this memory is properly preserved, GCK will not only be a college but a museum/archive for research and tourism.
Visitors to Katsina especially first time visitors would have GCK marked as one of the nicest places to visit. People would be coming, especially students of history, to relate with what they had read in books and being taught in class about modern intellectual history of Katsina. By this, the college became part of public memory and a source of revenue for its maintenance.
For some however, it’s not an old school from which they graduated; it’s rather a place of work, a living quarters, a sport complex, a marketplace, a passage linking them up to a destination, and a refuge for miscreants. It has for this reason became an immense public memory for transcending its primary purpose to providing other services to the surrounding communities.
Subconsciously, its memory is so entrenched in the public memory that when this administration changed its name to Dikko College, it elicited wild public outrage. To date, the college is only officially known as Dikko College, but GCK in the public space.
From the forgoing we can understand that the history of GCK is not a history of a college alone; but of education, of a people, of a State, and, we can say with all sense of certainty, a fraction of history of a nation. GCK therefore deserves a world class treatment if only we respect our past.
If the college is seen in this light by the state and the general public, struggle for its renaissance will not only be the Old Boys’ Association’s, but a collective one.
Any society that treats its public memory with laxity such as in this case, would search perpetually for meaning of its existence without success.
Tsangayar Malam Dan Malam