by Segun Olatunji, Bukola Adebayo and Sodiq Oyeleke
Sheila Solarin, widow of the late renowned social critic, Dr. Tai Solarin, is dead.
The PUNCH learnt that Sheila, 88, died on Sunday afternoon at the Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State.
She had reportedly slipped while going to bed some months back and was rushed to the hospital where she was operated upon.
Sheila was reported to have sustained a broken hip as a result of the domestic accident.
Sheila died at about 4.30pm on Sunday at the hospital. Her two children were said to have been by her bedside at the hospital when she passed on.
Her remains, according to family sources, have been deposited at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital Morgue.
The daughter of the deceased, Ms. Corin Solarin, said she was short of words to describe the life and times of her late mother.
Corin said on the telephone, “I cannot summarise her life and times in words. She was a good, kind-hearted and humane personality.
“She played the role of mother to thousands of people across the world. Her love and service to humanity were exemplary and legendary.”
Former governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga Daniel, described her death as a huge loss.
Daniel in a statement by his media aide, Adegbenro Adebanjo, described the late Solarin as an epitome of the best of womanhood.
He added that her contributions to the development of education in Nigeria would not be forgotten in a hurry.
“Even, after the demise of her husband, she kept the flag of Tai Solarin flying loftily in the education sector in Nigeria. Through her death, Nigeria has lost a humanist, educationist, bridge builder, and peace maker. We will miss her but takes solace in the fact tha she left behind a worthy legacy,” Daniel said.
Also, the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, described Sheila’s death as shocking.
“Madam Solarin in her life times sacrificed all that she had for the sake of her husband. She kept the flag flying at Mayflower School, Ikenne. She remained an epitome of good womanhood. She was caring, not only to her children, but all that passed through her husband. She will be missed just like we are missing her husband. She was hardworking, diligent and straight forward person,” Kaka said.
Mrs. Alake Sobo, a niece of the late social critic, Tai Solarin, said Sheila was a rare mother who dedicated all her life to the betterment of humanity.
Dr. Wale Omole, the founder of Tai Solarin Hospital, Lagos, described Sheila’s death as a big loss to humanity.
“She and her husband sponsored thousands of Nigerian children to the univeristy level. They know little or nothing about those children’s parents, especially those that were affected by the Nigeria Civil War. There is so much to miss in the life and times of Mrs. Solarin who symbolises humaness, generosity, philanthropy and all those virtues that exact the human race,” Omole said.
Also, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has mourned the death of Sheila..
Amosun in a press statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs Funmi Wakama, described the demise of Mrs Solarin as most painful and a great loss to Ogun State and Nigeria in general.
“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. The school founded in 1956 became one of the best schools in the country and has produced many of the leading lights in our nation,” the governor said.
He added that Sheila Solarin personified the common humanity we shared “not just by marrying our own revered Dr. Tai Solarin but choosing to live in Nigeria and making it her true home.
“Mrs Solarin was an exampler of that much-needed global spirit that sees beyond colour, race and religion in inter-relationships among peoples, nations and continents of the world.
“Ogun State and Nigeria have lost a first class teacher,an epitome of hard work, a humanist extraordinnaire and role model of distinction,” the governor said.
Sheila and her late husband had two children, Corin and Tunde. She founded the famous Mayflower School in Ikenne, Ogun State on 27 January 1956, with her late husband.
She ran the Mayflower School on behalf of her late husband Tai Solarin before her retirement two years ago at 86 and passed much of the responsibility on to her children.
Sheila met her husband during the World War II. In 1952 they decided to move to his native Nigeria, and both worked in Molusi College, Ijebu Igbo.
Her disagreement with the politics of the day and religious discrimination in schools made the couple r decide to build their own in Ikenne.
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