-By: Abdul Mujeeb Muhammad Jummah
After many months of planning, re-planning, speech writing, sleepless nights, and finally the execution, the acronym ‘AOW’ kept every conscious person aware of a ‘MAD’ programme.
For starters, AOW, short for Armoury of Words, is an annual public speaking event organized by Sultan Bello Hall Literary and Debating Society, A.K.A. Bello Marshals. It is a word battle fought by the factions existing in the house.
For years, it has lived up to its expectation. However, some are of the opinion that there was so much hype on this edition and there were higher expectations. Someway, somehow, these expectations were met. So, for those who could not make the event, let me not say you missed out. Better still, I can help you catch up, not on everything, but under seven headings that made it memorable.
Not a regular name you hear, especially for a supposed intellectual-entertaining program. But instead, it was the reason the programme stood out.
Perhaps, let us assume we hear the word ‘MAD’, a lot of horrible and pitiful images come to mind. Now let us imagine it was a code for the phrase ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’, even I will not want that to happen judging from the war threats between North Korea and United States of America. But this was not a war threat; it was the result of the military-like culture that held Sultan Bello Hall Literary and Debating Society together for years.
So, when everyone heard, saw and digested the ‘MAD’ concept, it became the publicity success that was going to draw a massive audience.
Unlike the regular intellectual programs that happen on Campus, the seats in the classic Arts Theatre were filled up 30 minutes into the event. The audience, who were mostly Students of University of Ibadan strolled in one after the other while the stage was still been put in order. This, according to some of the organisers, was surprising. They had thought that a lot of factors could have made fewer people to attend the event, judging from the other equally fascinating programmes that took place on the same day, most especially of a crowd dominated by football lovers who would not miss the World Cup matches.
As if that was not enough, the programme which ran from about 2pm till around 8:30pm in the evening kept the audience on their seats. Or rather, they decided to stay for reasons best known to them. The point is that the venue remained overpopulated for six straight hours, something that even the University’s annual Matriculation exercise cannot boast of.
For the record, Armoury of Words is the only students-organised public speaking event that can boast of awarding quality-made trophies (apart from Jaw War). While many other kinds of such programmes will bestow plaques on those that come out top, Armoury of Words was branded differently. Each outstanding speaker went home with something they can proudly put on their shelves.
The trophies placed the event in another class so much so that the second runner-up of the inter-hall oratory competition kissed his trophy with so much emotion (same way I felt when I won mine two years ago).
THE SEVENTH ITEM
There is only one guarantee of students attending events on Campus. Some call it menu-menu, some red-menu, but here we call it item 7. So you know that when your item 7 is not guaranteed, their attendance is also not guaranteed.
But that sacred rule was broken by the six-hour event. From start till finish, no one complained of the unavailability of item 7, something not so typical of the student population. And when asked of how they felt about the programme (in a survey carried out by me), no one mentioned item 7. And when I intentionally divert their attention to it, they were like ‘maybe we can work on that’, but there were no sign of the hard feelings normally gotten when item 7 is not on the list.
So, lessons learnt. Deliver an awesome programme, item 7 will be wiped out of the picture.
Did you know that the brain behind the programme never really attended the events? Well, that was the reality until the recently completed edition. Dr. Amobi Amanambu, an Alumnus of the Department of Geography, who was the pioneer of the Bello Marshals, was also the mastermind that birthed the programme.
In a short interview he had with the MC on stage, a lot came to limelight. Some of which are the reasons for the Bello Marshals military-like culture, how the society was resuscitated, the genesis of Armoury of Words and Jaw War.
Other Alumni of the Society were on ground ranging from the past Generals of the house to those whom the title of ‘DRAGON’ were bestowed upon.
The fierce battle between the two factions of Bello Marshals took to the podium again to settle their differences. But not much seemed to have changed since the last time they met.
The Bullet squad gave it their all in the Oratory round but was knocked out cold by a fascinating Dynamites’ Temitope Ejide who claimed the best orator’s trophy, making it twice in a row. The former squad fought back fiercely in the Debate round with Emmanuel Osoko’s speech overpowering his counterparts from the latter squad to also clinch the best debater trophy, twice in a row.
But when the final result came, the score remained static for the Bullet Squad and one more figure higher for the Dynamite squad which sealed the long battle. The Armoury of Words coveted trophy went to the latter squad (which I am a proud member).
THE NEXT EDITION
From the turn of events, Armoury of Words, the 9th edition was truly ‘MAD’, how much more the next edition which will mark its decade. Till the fire of the Bullet and Dynamite squad is lit again, we can only foresee a ‘MADER’ public speaking event.