These past few weeks have been extremely busy but fun and exciting here at IITA.
First of all, we had our Open Day on 16 November. And boy, was that a big shindig! We had almost 5000 thousand guests – mostly families and friends of staff – trooping into our campus in Ibadan.
We started off the day’s celebrations with an open house at the Conference Center where we showcased samples of the work that we do with science and research exhibitions. A lot of the kids (and the kids-at-heart) got a kick out of looking through some microscopes and trying their hands on some gear (with the help of our scientists, of course). We also treated the guests to a movie of what we do, which I think was really cool.
Among the highlights of Open Day, Long Service Awards were conferred on staff who had served the institute for 10, 20, and 30 years. Wow, talk about loyalty and service! I was also excited when the retirees of 2013 were recognized. These are the fellows who have given so much of themselves to IITA, and they deserved all the recognition.
I was also impressed by the scholars who were given their scholarships by the IITA Women’s Group during the day, especially Segun Daramola, the boy they endearingly called “Prof”. Because of his outstanding academic performance my colleague Dr Akuffo-Akoto gave “Prof” a full scholarship out of his own pocket. Kids like these renew my faith and hope in Africa and its potentials.
Oh, I would have to really put my hands up for this group of our young staff – Bode Olaoluwa, Owija Odihi, Opeyemi Oyatomi, and Soji Akinyemi – who put together a modern and hippy song I am IITA. I never thought that a song about an agricultural research institution could be so cool and hip. This song will probably be permanently in my playlist and it might be in yours, too, once you hear it. It was really amazing!
Of course, no occasion is ever complete without the cultural dancers and musicians. They really spiced up the day, especially for those coming from outside Nigeria. The young ones (and those young once) were also not left out as the tennis courts at the Sports Center were virtually transformed into a kids’ paradise complete with games and jumping castles. Talk about fun!
And do you think our scientists and staff are only good in research? Think again! A dance-off among staff and guests was also held, with winners, chosen by the cheering audience, going home with some really nice prizes.
Then we capped the day’s celebrations by raffling some prizes. The grand prize – a vacation travel package to Accra, Ghana, 3 days and 2 nights complete with return air fare, hotel accommodation, and pocket money – was won by Hakeem Opadeyi, a mechanic working at the Facilities Management Service. I was just glad I had picked out the winning ticket that contained his name.
Through this blog, I would like to thank all those who made this Open Day so successful. I won’t name each one of you, there are just too many. But this also goes to show that here at IITA we are not just an organization, but also a family. And I can’t wait until the next Open Day! I am sure it will be even greater.
By the way, if you want to see in photos what I’ve just been telling you, please grab a copy of the special Open Day pictorial issue of Talking Drums.
Catch you again in my next blog!
PS: I think I am really getting a hang of this blogging thing. What do you think? Let me know.