Thursday 25 July 2013




St. Andrew's main sign post
In the late 80’s when I got admission at St. Andrew’s Secondary School Adikpo popularly known as SASSA in Benue State, it was 21 years after St. Andrew’s was founded by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi now in Gboko Diocese.

SASSA is ‘a boys only’ school with boarding facility for distant students, I also was a distant student having come from another part of the state but then I was staying with my Dad who was a teacher at St. Mary’s Teachers’ College ‘a girls only’ Teacher Training Institute also founded by the Catholic Church, St. Mary’s is about 8 or 10km from St. Andrew’s as you head towards the Republic of Cameroon.

Because of its quality in terms of discipline and academic excellence, SASSA attracted a lot of students all over the country, every parents’ dream was to send their children to St. Andrew’s...on our part, we never failed them, we took first at every event; drama, all Catholic School games, dance, quiz competitions etc, and soon other schools started copying our unique and creative salute at match past during Independence and Children’s Day celebrations...our sky blue shorts on white short sleeve shirts for the junior students and trousers with long-sleeve shirts, black neck-ties on black shoes for the senior made everyone work hard to appear in the outfit...

Sence House

Just adjacent the St. Andrew’s entrance stands a storey building with a front frame inscription; “FIRST SENCE HOUSE 1961”, this building does not look in anyway close to your regular duplex or ‘upstairs’, its walls are obviously made of mud bricks, it has two windows on the upper floor and one downstairs with one front door downstairs, there is a tint of white paint on the lower part of the wall, while the upper part is rubbed in light blue...with my ‘teenage minded’ curiosity, I would wonder what “FIRST SENCE HOUSE 1961”, meant, it was just simple to assume it was built in 1961, but first where, in Benue?

Akinde's 'Sence House' built in 1961
Few students attempted giving answers to these questions, but I wasn’t sure the answers they gave me were satisfactory, of course some said, “they say it’s the first upstairs in Benue, Tivland, Nigeria...” and all that...

Questions About Sence House

While at St. Andrew’s my unanswered questions were many apart from the meaning of “FIRST SENCE HOUSE...”, I also wanted to know why Adikpo was called ‘London’, many people attempted answering me unsatisfactorily again. Some said Adikpo had the same weather conditions as the city of London, this I never believed because I had not been to England but I heard it was extremely cold there and I saw pictures of people wearing very thick clothing.

Someone simply told me Adikpo looked like London, but this sounded more of a daytime tale to me, atleast from the pictures of London I had seen, there were skyscrapers, very clean tarred streets and double decker buses.

Gideon Akinde Ayu chats with King James Yiye

Answered Questions

It’s nearly twenty years (20yrs) since I left St. Andrew’s. Now a Broadcast & Online Journalist, I stopped over to satisfy my ‘teenage curiosity’ by not only taking shots of the ‘first sence house’ but also talk to the man; Gideon Akinde Ayu from Mbaiwen, Clan in Nanev District, Adikpo who built this monument in 1961.

I first asked him why the building has been standing fifty-two (52) years after it was built, whereas newer ones collapse daily in Nigeria’s major cities killing people.

Sence House Idealization

Mr. Gideon told me that with his little educational background from the NKST Mkar in Gboko Benue State where he read about King Solomon who asked God for wisdom, he did same while at St. George’s College Enugu where he saw a building made of wood. He said, the spirit directed him on how to do something he had not seen anywhere in Benue where he had visited including Makurdi, Katsina Ala, Gboko and others.

Construction Materials

He said, he only used cement at the foundation level of the house but used mud bricks all through. Akinde Ayu  also said he used ‘hagh’, a termite resistant wood to lay the decking. According to him, people were afraid and reported him to the authorities at the time that he was building a ‘suicide house’, but there was no such law stopping a man from building any type of house, so he was set free.

Mr. Gideon Ayu also told me the red sand (gema) is stronger than cement especially when dried, he said he used just a hoe to dig the foundation and constructed the staircase with wood as well.


The London Connection

Shortly after ‘sence house’ was built, Amende; a 60s folk singer from Nanev otherwise known as Ikpamkor i Kwande did a song where he pointed out that if such knowledge originated from Adikpo by a son of the soil and the idea actually came to fruition and such a building was possible on their soil then “Adikpo ka London u Kwande jim-jim”, meaning, Adikpo is indeed London.

Getting this obviously more believable information nearly twenty years (20yrs) after I had asked the question as a boy excited me beyond explanation, since then, I have spoken with many other illustrious sons of Kwande but none has been able to convincingly prove Mr. Gideon Ayu wrong of the genesis of Adikpo London, rather someone agreed, “that could just be the truth as one of the foremost Women Group in Tivland; Kasev Kwande also sang “Adikpo ka London” (Adikpo is London) referring to Amende’s song based on Gideon Ayu’s first sense house.

The ‘first sence house’ is still standing and Mr. Gideon Ayu says people still sleep on both floors of the house.


Tourism Monument

Mr. Gideon Ayu’s ingenuity in constructing the first storey building in Benue, and the fact that the same building is still occupied on both floors and still standing fifty-one years (51) after it was built tells me this man deserves honours from the Benue State Government, Corporate Bodies and Individuals.

Call To Action

The first Tiv ‘sence house’ just like many of such historic structures in the world should be fully utilised as a revenue provider for the Local Government and or State Government. It should also serve as an income earner for the man who built it in 1961.

King James Yiye

Broadcast & Online Journalist,

Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

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