Thai Solarin, director of the Mayflower school (right), with a guest from Israel in Ikene, Nigeria, 1962.
|Born||Augustus Taiwo Solarin
20 August 1922
Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria
|Died||27 June 1994(aged 71)|
|Occupation||Educator, social activist, author (journalist) first african pilot|
|Spouse(s)||Sheila Mary Tuer
(m. 1951; his death 1994)
Augustus Taiwo "Tai" Solarin (20 August 1922 – 27 June 1994) was a Nigerian educator and author. He established the famous Mayflower School, Ikenne, Ogun State in 1956. In 1952, Solarin became the principal of Molusi College, Ijebu Igbo, a post he held till 1956 when he became the proprietor and principal of Mayflower School.
Solarin's exact birth date is unknown, but it is assumed that he was born in 1922 in Ikenne, Ogun State, in Western Nigeria. He attended Wesley College in Ibadan. He served with the Royal Air Force in the Second World War, and remained in Britain, studying at University of Manchester, and then at the University of London. Tai Sholarin married English-born Sheila Mary Tuer in 1951.
The Mayflower campus, which he established, is made up of hundreds of hectares of land, based in Tai Solarin's birth Place, Ikenne, Ogun State. Approximately 8,000 students are in attendance .
The campus includes classrooms, administration buildings, small houses for many of the teachers, dormitory accommodations for about 2,000 boarders, and a farm. The school is noted for very high academic achievement.
Post independence critics
Tai Solarin is one of the post-Independence civil rights critics and activists in his native Nigeria; some others were Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (musician) Beko Ransome-Kuti, Wole Soyinka (Nobel Laureate), Ayodele Awojobi, Dele Giwa, Gani Fawehinmi (lawyer), and Ken Saro-Wiwa. For the majority of the first forty years after independence, Nigeria had no effective opposition to the mostly military government of the day. These activists acted as an effective opposition to the ruling government. In 1975, when the General Gowon Regime delayed returning power to a civilian regime, Tai published his "The Beginning of the End" statement, which he then physically distributed on the roadside. He was subsequently imprisoned for this act. Throughout his lifetime Tai fought running battles with various governments in a bid to improve the lot of Nigerians.
Mr. Solarin was an intellectual guru for Nigeria's disenchanted and disfranchised for four decades. His writings in magazines and newspapers, highlighting what he called the hypocrisy and vulgarity of the Nigeria of his day, frequently angered people in power.
As a columnist, Tai was a relentless critic of Nigerian military rule, as well as of corruption in the government and the church. He was often jailed for his public remarks.
In a country and an age where dignitaries wore flowing Agbada to show their wealth and position, Tai was known to always wear simple khaki shorts and shirt.
Prophet of self-reliance
One of Tai Solarin's basic principles was self-reliance, a part of the curriculum at Mayflower.
The Peoples Bank
In 1989, The Peoples Bank was founded by the government, and Tai Solarin became the first chairman. The bank was created to disburse soft loans and other forms of credit to the very poor to start their own businesses.
Tai Solarin was also a well known humanist and atheist who opposed the ownership of the schools by churches. Tai Solarin once said that "black(people) hold onto their God just as the drunken man holds on to the street lamp post—for physical support only." In 2004, the Mayflower School played host to an International Humanist Conference, commemorating the life and work of Tai Solarin. It was attended by guests from the United States, Africa and Europe. Uncle Tai, as he was popularly known, derived immense pleasure in selflessly and fearlessly advocating for a better Nigeria, an action borne out of genuine, unfettered, earnest and heartfelt feeling about the state and future of the nation and the future generation. He was dissatisfied with the mindboggling erosion of values, the misrule and total collapse of all facets of life and sectors in the country and expressed shock at the unfathomable silence and culpability of the leadership and people. He was never known to capitulate to ephemeral inducements, paradisal accountrements and corporeal appurtenances. Tai Solarin was unequivocal and explicit on the side of justice, truth and fairplay, was always ready to suffer for the sake of others, share in their misery and stand by the weak
Tai Solarin University of education
In November 1995, the Nigerian National Universities Commission (NUC) formally recognised the "Tai Solarin University of Education" (TASUED) Ogun State, as the first specialised university of education, the 27th state university and the 76th university in Nigeria.
- Towards Nigeria's Moral Self-Government,
- Thinking with You.
- A Message for Young Nigerians.
- To Mother With Love.
- Mayflower; the story of a school.
- Timeless Tai.
- a Columnist of Nigerian Tribune journal
- "::. Tai Solarin Organization .::. Welcome". Taisolarin.org. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- "Tai Solarin, 72, Nigeria Educator And Critic, Dies – New York Times". Nytimes.com. 7 August 1994. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- "Tai Solarin: His Life, Ideas, and Accomplishments". Infidels.org. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- International Humanist and Ethical Union. "Remembering Tai Solarin". Iheu.org. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- Soyinka, Kayode (4 August 1994). "Obituary: Tai Solarin – People, News". London: The Independent. Retrieved 17 November 2010.