Merry Mayflower: Sheila Solarin and this technopreneur’s timeless moments

by Oluwatobi Soyombo

Mayflower was the kind of school that combined academic excellence with moral and spiritual balance irrespective of your religion. You’ve got skill/talent? Mayflower recognizes this.

Yesterday evening, I read with sadness the death of an icon. Legend. A virtuous woman. A mother of many. Obinrin ogun (woman of war). Madam Sheila Sholarin fondly called Madam by her children. Gentle, almost always with her dog(s). As I sobbed profusely, memories of my days in Mayflower flooded my mind. Of all the schools I’ve attended (university inclusive), Mayflower is the ONLY school that has made an impact on me that cannot be forgotten soon. Though Madam is aged, it’s sad to lose her now. *tears*

The Mayflower experience is not one that can be communicated in a single post. Never! It’s worth a whole book.

Life in Students Second Home was second to none, trust me.

All students must jump up at 5am and head on to the Mayflower Junior School field for morning drill irrespective of how cold the weather was. Stay in the hostel at your own risk! We all would jug round the field for few minutes and then assemble at the center of the field for several forms of exercises. From there, students move back to their hostels to bath.

Bath as fast as you can and move straight to the dining hall to take the regular beans and waka (pap). Hence the popular song “Lojo Monday, Ewa lanje, Lojo Tuesday, Ewa noni” translated “On Mondays, we eat beans, on Tuesdays, we eat beans as well…

We had no choice, except those who had some “provisions” in their lockers. With stomachs full of wak and beans, we all moved from the dining all to the school – a 10-15 minute walk. Looking ahead, you’ll see hundreds of students dressed in prison-like uniform (wand green for boys, white and red for girls) with cutlasses and brooms in their hands like slaves being matched down for manual labour. Generally, a biro and a book make a student, but not in Mayflower. On resumption, your luggage was never complete without a broom, hoe, cutlass, or other tools.

On arrival on the school, you’ll meet those egoistic prefects at almost all corners ordering you to move straight to your morning portions. Refuse, at your risk! Or, let Mr. Onabule catch you playing around before the morning assembly, he’ll rock your buttocks. Morning portions range from sweeping to weeding to picking of nylons/papers and other forms of chores to ensure the environment looked beautiful.

Ring! Ring! Ring! That’s the bell for morning assembly. You don’t need a voice from heaven before you leave whatever you were doing, pulled your two ears and run (maybe as fast as Usain Bolts) down to the assembly ground with your Merry Mayflower. The first thing was “If you are not with your Merry Mayflower, get down on your knees”. Then, the prefect on duty will say “Open your Merry Mayflower to …”.

Oh! How I miss silence hour – a time when students move to field to read. Papa – an ex-soldier turn hostel warden – must not catch you whispering. Papa would also tell us his experiences when he was a soldier fighting hard for Nigeria.

Sunday was the visiting day. It is not uncommon to hear students ask each other “Are they coming to visit you?” I remember how the junior students would prevent the seniors from knowing they had been visited. Else, they’ll lose some provisions.

Early Sunday morning was for inspections. From the field, we would match down for Community Gathering. As a lad, community gathering was always motivating. Ex-mays were invited (old students) to speak to us about several topics. Oh, God! I miss those days. We would sit on concrete and listen to them speak. Before they start, we would sing several songs from Merry Mayflower.

*wipes tear drops off keyboard*

What can I say about the geek that I am today? My first encounter with the Internet was in Students Second Home. I can remember how I felt when Mr. Bakare (head of Students Second Home at that time) announced with his deep voice “The management of Student Second Home have set up a cybercafé for students who want to browse the internet…”

“Oh my God.” I felt on top of the world.

I can remember how I will run faster than other students whenever the bell rings in order to get the best spot in the Internet lab of Students Second Home. I created my first email in that lab – Yahoo! It was my first experience with the web which is my major/primary source of income today. *tears*

What about the self reliance activities? Those days in the bush were stressful for us, but I can look back today and say thank God we were given such training. *tears*

Mayflower was the kind of school that combined academic excellence with moral and spiritual balance irrespective of your religion. You’ve got skill/talent? Mayflower recognizes this. We had tens of clubs that cuts across almost of the types of talents/skills you can imagine. Clubs for shoe making, hunting, Boys Scout, dress making, and the like. Fridays was the time for clubs back then.

All Mayflower students had a role model. We all had one figure we looked up to, though dead. Late Dr. Tai Solarin. No ex-May! I repeat No ex-May, can ever forget late Madam Sheila Solarin, late Dr. Tai Solarin or Mayflower. With all the virtues impacted on us all.

This is just about 1% of my Mayflower days. Trust me! Ask any ex-May and they’ll tell you more. I dare say that this was when schools were schools.

Mayflower School Ikenne was the best school, especially for those who lived in Students Second Home. Throughout my University days, friends and lecturers never stopped to ask about where I got my drive and quest for self reliance from.

It appears to me that late Madam Sheila Solarin and late Dr. Tai Solarin are the only couple I know that understood the value of true education and forth tireless for it. Today, I and thousands others, are beneficiaries of the legacy. I’ll forever be indebted and grateful to the Solarins.

Merry Mayflower!

Rest in Peace, Madam Sheila Solarin.

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Comments (7)

  1. AYE NBE NIBE.OMO OGBON KO MA BO NI MAYFLOWER KO WA FOGBON SEUN RERE.ILE AYE OO. .

  2. Mayflower!!!
    My life, My Joy, My Motivation, My drive, My zeal, My Love!!!!
    I like the fact you said that’s just your 1% of experience.
    I got into Mayflower 1993, i Had the privilege to be with Taiye and its Magnificent and it really shaped my Life and Life of my Family as well.
    Thank you Daddy

  3. I never had d opportunity to attend Mayflower but I made sure my children are there. Two of them are there as we speak. I had an opportunity to interview this great woman. I will reproduce that interview on October 9 when she will be laid to rest. She was wonderful, intelligent, kind, humourous and above all, was used to her many children. My children never stopped telling us about her and Mayflower generally. May her kind soul rest in peace

    Amen!

  4. "From far away, I hear sweet voices calling me and in my thoughts come memories flooding fast……….' Thanks man for bringing back all those warm memories tucked safely in the deepest part of my heart. Truth is nobody went through MayflowerSchool Ikenne without being impacted on positively! Adieu Mama Sheila.

  5. Of all the schools/college that I attended also,mayflower made the most impact.We can go on and on to describe Uncle Tai and Madam Sheila,they really came to serve humanity.Adieu great teachers.

  6. Nice piece, full of emotion. I also went to a great boarding school and I can tell from ex-Mays I've known that the Solarins built a great school.

    We rejoice because mama has gone to rest with papa. Adieu to a great couple.

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