By Rachel Ogbu
Tributes have been pouring in since the news that Sheila Solarin, wife of the late renowned social critic, Tai Solarin, had passed on was released to the public on Sunday.
Sheila died on Sunday as a result of injuries she sustained when she fell out from a chair.
Her son, Tunde who spoke in Ikenne, described his mother as “an educationist who devoted the whole of her life time to teaching”, adding that the deceased sustained injuries, which eventually led to her death while trying to get up after she fell.
Also reacting was Sheila’s only daughter Corin. “I cannot be in one thousand years like my father or my mother, but I will try my best to be myself. I will also want other Mayflowerists who are scattered all around Europe, America, Africa, and other continents to come around so that we don’t allow these legacies to die. Also I want them to always keep the spirit of hardworking which my parent had imbibed in them to be their watchword as every one of them is a potential leaders, I cannot be like them but will strive to sustain their legacies and want others to join hands with us,” she said.
A statement issued by Reuben Abati, special adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said: “Her remarkably long period in running the popular Mayflower School, Ikenne and teaching English in that school made her to leave an indelible impact on generations of students who, today, occupy prominent positions in all sectors of the Nigerian society.”
President Jonathan, who described her as “a great soul, highly respected mother, peace-maker, and community worker,” commended her courage and patriotism in making Nigeria her permanent home before and after the death of her husband.
Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun described the demise of Sheila as most painful and a great loss to Ogun State and Nigeria in general. According to the governor, “Mama Solarin was a foremost educationist, a great teacher and disciplinarian who rendered an immeasurable service to the people of Ogun State and Nigeria through the Mayflower School.
Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, described her passing as a huge loss to the nation in general and the educational sector in particular. He said Sheila had left a vacuum that may be very difficult to fill in her chosen sector.
Olawale Okunniyi, Ogun State leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), described Sheila’s passage as a devastating blow to the growing army of aspiring youths and masses in the country.
Tunde also said his mother would be buried beside her husband in two weeks’ time after a meeting with other family members. Sheila, 88, died on Sunday afternoon at the Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State.
Shiela Solarin (nee Mary Tuer) who was British met the late Tai Solarin while both were in the forces following the World War II. But they disagreed with the politics of the day and religious discrimination in schools, and decided to build their own at Ikenne, Ogun State.
She ran Mayflower School on behalf of her late husband, till she was 80 and was appointed an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II on 17 October 2007 for services to education in Nigeria.