Flashback Fridays: Before Naija Frats Were Bastardized [Photo]

The genesis of secret cults on Nigerian campuses today had always been with good intentions; it was all for a noble cause, one of which was predominantly to eradicate tribalism. 

The University College, Ibadan (which later became University of Ibadan), was at a time a breeding ground for the worst kind of tribal thinking clubs; the Students' Representative Council, all forms of student activity, including sports, became mere expressions of tribal pettiness.

It was against this background and to combat these negative tendencies that seven students founded the Pyrates Confraternity (PC) in 1952. Their original scroll written and signed by those founding fathers, listed below, remains a most valued item in the Pyrates Treasure Chest.

According to the Pyrates, the “Magnificent Seven”, as they called themselves, observed that the university was populated with wealthy students associated with the colonial powers and a few poorer students striving in manner and dress to be accepted by the more advantaged students, while social life was dictated by tribal affiliation.

These men known as the Original Seven are:

1. Wole Soyinka
2. Ralph Okpara
3. Pius Oleghe
4. Ikpehare Aig-Imoukhuede
5. Nathaniel Oyelola
6. Olumuyiwa Awe
7. Sylvanus U. Egbuche

The original seven at Tedder Hall Quandrangle, University College Ibadan.
From left: Wole Soyinka, Ikpehare Aig-Imoukhuede, Sylvanus Egbuche,
Pius Oleghe, Nathaniel Oyelola, Muyiwa Awe, Palph Pkpara
Soon their rank increased to fifteen to become the "fifteen men on a dead man's chest". To combat tribalism within their ranks, they adopted pyratical names, different from their "lubbish" names, with no trace to any tribe or origin. Thus was born the Jolly Rogers l (JR1) deck which for a long time remained the mothership of the pyrates Confraternity.

However, as new confraternities were formed, they became increasingly violent through the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1990s, many confraternities largely operated as criminal gangs, called “campus cults” in Nigeria. Besides normal criminal activity, confraternities have been linked to political violence, as well as the conflict in the Niger Delta.

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