Solarin on mother’s role in society

MotherThe mother’s role in every society cannot be overemphasised, as she is seen as the child’s provider and character-moulder. A child’s failure is most times blamed on the mother even when other agents of socialisation do not play their roles in putting the child on the right track. It is against this backdrop that Tai Solarin’s To Mother with Love: An Experiment in Autobiography (Board Publications Ltd, Ibadan; 2015) shows his appreciation to his mother who ensured he became a person of substance by helping him get education. He exposes how society can also act as a setback to a person’s progress.

In this book, Solarin, the late social crusader, highlights the intense discrimination female children are subjected in Africa, especially during his growing up years. He recounts that as his mother sought every available means to get him educated, his twin sister (Kehinde) never enjoyed such privilege because she is a girl. Solarin narrates how his mother always took him to stay with relatives whenever she felt he was not getting the best of education from where he was currently staying. Back in his days, even the male students discriminated against the females, as they did not want girls in May Flower School which he attended. They felt their pride wounded when a girl took the lead in class one.

‘Mama,’ as his half sister is called, believes she is superior to everyone, treats everyone like a filthy rag but soon learns that nobody is indispensable. The book also deplores man’s inhumanity to man as house-helps staying with other people always get ill treatment. Solarin condemns his father charges him of being inhuman when he abandoned him and his twin sister Kehinde when they were just three weeks old. Hatred and aggression awaits Solarin when he gained admission into Wesley College, Ibadan, because of the ‘wickedness’ the older Solarins meted out to the students in time past.

David proves to Tai that only hard work paves the way for success as his juju fails him during exams. He becomes good at mathematics through constant practice and tutorship he gets from Onabamiro. As a teacher, he starts teaching the senior pupils by 7a.m. instead of 8a.m. and this gets his school an excellent result. Solarin learns that no job is demeaning as long as it sustains you. His hard work earns him more money and national coverage as a Stockholm newspaper reported him as the “African machine” after picking over 28 boxes of potatoes.

On cultural socialization of children, Solarin affirms that mother tongue is the best language to teach a child with in school. He emphasises that children learn faster from local examples. But the author narrates how a student challenged him to compose a song before telling them to do so. “But you have not composed one, sir, how can you expect us to compose, then?” As soon as he does so, the students immediately follow suit.

In To Mother With Love: An Experiment in Autobiography, Solarin writes, “We can become whatever we choose to be” and defeat is for anyone who accepts it. May Flower School partook in WAEC even when the Ministry of Education proved to be an obstacle. He believes that the decadence in society, especially in politics is why there is apathy from some segment of people society.

Solarin also affirms his belief in living totally for man by improving his lot. He believes that the answer to every man’s needs is hard work not religion and its practice. He insists that taking risks precedes greatness.

However, there are some errors in the book like ‘instalmentally’, ‘back,’ and ‘The chief cook was always a year three boys.’

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