September 28, 2021

Dr. Augustus Taiwo Solarin – Founder of Mayflower School In Nigeria

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived an African man by the name of Dr. Augustus Taiwo Solarin who became an educator, a spearheading a change in the curriculum educational system in the country, and founded his own school called the Mayflower School.


Dr. Augustus Taiwo Solarin, popularly called “Tai Solarin”, was born alongside his twin sister in Ikenne, Ogun state, Nigeria on August 20, 1922.

EDUCATION, MILITARY, AND MARRIAGE

He attended Wesley College Ibadan. He attempted get a passport to further his education abroad but his plan fell through, but he later got enlisted in the British Air Force as a navigator, where he met his wife Sheila Mary Solarin (nee Tuer) who was also serving in the military force following World War II. They got married in 1951, and the marriage was blessed with children – Corin, and Tunde Solarin. He remained in Britain studying between 1946 and 1949 at Manchester University and later at London University.

In 1952, Tai Solarin returned to Nigeria with Sheila and became tutors at Molusi College in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun state. At the school, they sought to ‘re-educate’ the community and decided to make some changes in the education removing religious studies from the school curriculum.

They however met some resistance from the community where Tai Solarin’s brother was a reverend. He decided to quit and founded their own school. On January 27th, 1956, they (he and his wife) established Mayflower School.

This was the first secular school in Nigeria, using breeze blocks made from clay, they built two classrooms to accommodate 36 pupils each.

In 1977, Tai Solarin with his wife established ‘The Student’s Second Home’, a boarding house which serves more than two thousand students of the three public high schools in Ikenne town.

SOCIAL ACTIVISM AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Tai Solarin was a regular writer for the Daily Times, the Nigerian Tribune. He contributed many articles dealing with education, policies and social problems. He was often jailed for his public remarks, the worst being in Jos in 1984, lasting more than 15 months for suggesting that the military should surrender rule to the civilian within six months. Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience on multiple occasions for his activism.

His publications include:

  • Towards Nigeria’s moral self-government. (1959)
  • Timeless Tai.
  • Thinking with you. (longman,1969)

In 1970, he was awarded a Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, or Hon. D. Litt, by Alma College which is located in Michigan, USA.

DEATH

Dr. Tai Solarin, one of Nigeria’s best-known social critics, author and educator, passed away on July 27,1994 in his town of Ikenne in Ogun state, Nigeria.

After his death, his wife Sheila Mary Solarin headed the school until she officially retired from active service at the age of 80, relinquishing much of the responsibility to her children.

The article was written by BEH Contributor Emmanuel Chike Nnama from Lagos, Nigeria.

Photo is public domain – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_Solarin#/media/File:Thai_Solarin_1962.jpg