27 June 2016
On this day 22 years ago, Nigeria and indeed the world’s rights community lost a gem that many people seem to have now forgotten about. His name is Tai Solarin.
Augustus Taiwo “Tai” Solarin was generally assumed to have been born in 1922 in Ogun State, Nigeria, since no-one actually knew his date of birth.
Official record-keeping of birth and death was not popular then.
Tai Sholarin married English-born Sheila Mary Tuer in 1951.
Alongside other post-independence activists like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Wole Soyinka and Gani Fawehinmi, Solarin was an avid critic of the military government.
In 1975 he was jailed for his publication titled “The Beginning of the End”, which he personally distributed on roadsides. In the publication, he criticised the delay of the transition to civilian rule.
He fought for the betterment of Nigerians until his death on June 27, 1994.
He was a known atheist who opposed the ownership of schools by churches. When he was the principal of Molusi College, Ijebu Igbo, Ogun state, he removed morning prayers and religious studies as a subject in the school.
One of his most enduring legacies was his passion for giving back to his community. In 1956, he established Mayflower School in his home state and was appointed Managing Director of The People’s Bank in 1989 by Nigeria’s then military President Ibrahim Babangida.
Babangida established the Peoples Bank and fashioned it after the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh to specifically to give loans to the poor.
RIP Uncle Tai!!!