A teacher par excellence and a patriot, Sokari Dokubo Douglas was the toast of all the old students, at least those who had attended the college from 1969, when he was posted to the school and up until his retirement as Vice Principal.
Even in death he still reigns as though he were the only teacher school has ever had and has been so honoured by the old boys and community as well.
In my mind’s eye I can see the legendary Sokari Dokubo Douglas a; rode on his bicycle through the winding road to the prestigious Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema, his garment billowing in the wind students, hastening into the woods on sighting him.
Born in Abonnema in Akuku Torn Local Government Area of RiversState Sokari Dokubo Douglas received his primary education Nyemoni state school, Abonnema from 1927- 1933. At St. John College, Diobu, he trained as a teacher and later on acquired Teachers Grade I certificate in 1960.
He also obtained Advance Level papers in History and Religk Studies. His working experience started in 1936 as a pupils teacher c ended in 1984 as Vice Principal of Nyemoni Grammar School Abonnema.
Nyemoni Grammar School Abonnema appears to have been raised old students at home and abroad as though personified in Sokari Dokubo Douglas. No teacher at the school has been so honoured a sought after as Mr. Douglas by the community today or since.
His fame derived from his strict disciplinary posture, moral fearlessness advocacy for truth and justice and dedication to duty. These virtues h endeared him to the community and successive principals of the school with whom he worked. He was appointed at various times as chairman of the examination and disciplinary committees of all the schools where he had worked.
These sensitive positions, no doubt pitched him in war with students, particularly those who would always flout the rules of the school. Today all the students who passed through him at Nyemoni Grammar School, confess they had no better teacher, at least in discipline and m upbringing.
Sokari Dokubo Douglas was easily the most dedicated teacher Nyemoni Grammar school, Abonnema. It was as though he had sworn solemn oath to defend the school even at the risk of pains and penalties. He found favour in the eyes of the people of the community.
The school became so synonymous with Sokari Dokubo Douglas the community felt no longer at ease, whenever he was away transfer to other locations, it was as though the school had collapsed, particularly in discipline. That was why the community had always expressly pleaded with the government of the day to allow him be at school and had often worked against his transfer to other schools.
For his unusual dedication to duty communities often clashed as which would retain the legendary teacher at their schools. But the people of Abonnema had often had the upper hand in determining to which school their worthy son would go. Wherever he was posted to, he was the toast of the students and the community.
Bigity as he is referred to even today is a name by which the students made to identify him as he would always most colloquially tell them “there is no bigity in the school”, in his daily sermon against egotism, conceit and disobedience among students. To this day students wont to giving their teachers nick names, derogatory or congenial.
He established Adult Education Classes in the community in 1969 and was President Adult and Non-Formal Education in the state. He was Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in the then Degema Local Government Area of the State.
Sokari Dokubo Douglas was a man endowed with wisdom and thought. His modest abode was a Mecca of sorts, thronged by people v needed his fatherly advice, mentorship and others who brought their cases to him for arbitration.
His book, “Thought And Wisdom-Veritable Tools For Development” is a mirror on the society as it highlights the educational and other sphere: society. In a forward to the book, Professor Kelsey Harrison had said “the author is a man I acknowledge as a true patriot. We are both protagonists for better education for the masses”. Further he said inter alia “he saw the need to promote societal advancement through the medium of the book…”
Sokari Dokubo Douglas was also secretary of Nyemoni Improvement Society, Abonnema and had been chairman, president and secretary to various committees in and outside Abonnema.
Even in death he was honoured by old students some of whom came from overseas. In all he lived a life of humility, honesty and characteristic modesty and had no eye on material attainments.
Seldom has there been any teacher as dedicated and the reason for remembering him will be as good for the writer, the readers and others who appreciate honesty and dedication to duty.