Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived an Nigerian 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 a twin in Ikenne, Ogun state, Nigeria on August 20, 1922.
EDUCATION, MILITARY, AND MARRIAGE
He attended Wesley College Ibadan and later 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 they had two 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 they tutored 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.
When they were met with resistance to the change in curriculum, he decided to quit and found their own school. On January 27th, 1956, they established Mayflower School. This was the first secular school in Nigeria, and they built it themselves. They used breeze blocks made from clay, and the school had 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 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 civilians. 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.
Dr. Tai Solarin passed away on July 27,1994 in 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