|Saturday, July 9, 2022|
ith all sense of nostalgia, I chose the title of this article from the famous age-long philosophical piece written and published by the late Dr. Tai Solarin on January 1, 1964. Tai Solarin wrote the article to usher in the then New Year--1964. The ace article was titled: "May your road be rough." The satiric piece generated a lot of furor in a nation full of the hypothesis of religious hypocrisy. The piece was roundly condemned by the self-righteous gods of men and livid men and women in Nigerian God's vineyards at the period. Those who understood the imports of the sterling article celebrated it with moral and literary fanfares. The moral question now is that, has the late social crusader-Tai Solarin not been vindicated judging from the state of anomie in Nigeria today?
Dr. Tai Solarin was an educationist, atheist, family man, humanist, and staunch social critic. He was a rare-bred man with an existential demeanor, an impeccable and moral serviceman searching for unending answers to intractable human problems. While Dr. Tai Solarin was alive, he was an avowed self-proclaimed atheist. Still, all his characters and behavioral attitudes were theistic (i.e., one who believes in the existence of one God). Tai Solarin was nurtured by the best of human nature and character. In all ramifications, Dr. Tai Solarin was a representation of the best in a decent human being.
Sociologically, Dr. Tai Solarin was a well-grounded humane man who understood the nuances that make life more meaningful for all human beings. He was nearly a perfect human being. Despite his atheistic life ---with his stainless steel behavior, in the sight of God, and rational men and women, Tai Solarin, was undoubtedly a quintessential candidate for glorious imagined heaven. He represented the excellent ethical and moral standard of any decent man who lived in Nigeria and elsewhere. In contrast, most of today's false flashy, and self-proclaimed religious men and women in both religions (Islam and Christianity) in Nigeria cannot pass the basic religious test, honesty, and moral decency of life. As a disgruntled, glorified, and "self-exiled" Nigerian-American living in the United States, Tai Solarin's kindred spirit and other Nigerian nationalists remain the buffer and elixir for my hope in humanity. These nationalists have encouraged us to resist and persist in clamoring for the liberation and emancipation of the hapless and vulnerable Nigerians. If Tai Solarin had evolved in medieval times, he would have been a thin god whose revered catacomb would be a worship center or synagogue. And his non-rotund figure would be religiously wetted with moral libations.
Dr. Tai Solarin was a man of his words. He called a spade a spade. He was a moral gnome for the reconstruction of the corrupt and immoral DNA of Nigerian politicians and militaricians. Tai's moral rectitude, decency, and integrity are unmatched if correlated with the lack of moral compass that permeates our society and Nigeria of today. In this famous "MAY YOUR ROAD BE ROUGH," Dr. Tai Solarin factually told the world that life is never a bed of roses. Solarin opined that:
"I am not cursing you; I am wishing you what I wish myself every year. I therefore repeat, may you have a hard time this year, may there be plenty of troubles for you this year! If you are not so sure what you should say back, why not just say, 'Same to you? I ask for no more."
Dr. Tai Solarin believed that we do wishful thinking every year and pretend that the whole brand new year will be free of challenges, obstacles to achieving goals, severance from personal and family problems, etc. Dr. Tai Solarin believed that while we wish ourselves the best days ahead, we must not pretend or close our eyes to daily troubles and existential challenges. Success and failure are not mutually exclusive but mutually beneficial if we leverage our challenges for successes and failures. Tai Solarin's brutal honesty is a dose of challenge or burden to those false-faithful of the religion they proclaim. Here is a quote from the ace article---may your road be rough: "Our successes are conditioned by the amount of risk we are ready to take." When a rational and thoughtful mind deconstructs Solarin's quote above, we will realize that life is a mixture of joy and adversity. In our attempt to live our daily life, we often and solely wish ourselves the goodies and successes of life but pretend to discountenance the lurking challenges and failures. Dr. Tai Solarin further elucidated the difficulties of life. His vintage mind used American and Russian Astronauts on their risky and historic journey to the moon. This example shows us how to wish ourselves rough roads ahead while climbing the ladder of success. And often, Solarin's points have been proven right, time and time again:
"When, therefore, you are being dressed up and padded to be shot into the sky, you know only too well that you are going on the roughest road man had ever trodden. The Americans and Russians who have gone were armed with the great belief that they would come back. But I cannot believe that they did not have some slight foreboding on the contingency of their non-return. It is their courage for going despite these apprehensions that make the world hail them so loudly today."
We journey daily with our mental excursion; we navigate through the wilderness of thoughts on success and failure. The self in us concentrates more on success while our roommates (our mindsets) struggle to compete with our wishful thinking and melancholy rationally. We must live by the challenges life brings rather than attempting to live a utopian life pretentiously. A state of utopia only exists in the realm of our subconscious minds. Utopia is a nostalgic reflection of our mental faculty yearning to live a life without challenges. Life is an admixture of sorrow and happiness. We must begin to muse Tai Solarin's honest suggestion that: Life if it is going to be abundant, must have plenty of hills and vales. It must have plenty of sunshine and rough weather. It must be rich in obfuscation and perspicacity. It must be packed with days of danger and of apprehension." Until we have this agelong notion above embedded in our hearts, we will continue to be in our state of restlessness and wistful wilderness.
Lastly, Tai Solarin's submission below must be a referential challenge to how we live our daily lives: "When I walk into the dry but certainly cool morning air of every January 1, I wish myself plenty of tears and laughter, plenty of happiness and unhappiness, plenty of failures and successes. Plenty of abuse and praise. It is impossible to win ultimately without a rich measure of intermixture in such a menu. Life would be worthless without the lot. We do not achieve much in this country (world) because we are all so scared of taking risks. We all want smooth and well-paved roads. While the reason the Americans and others succeeded so well is that they took such great risks. If therefore, you are out in this New Year 1964, to win any target you have set for yourself, please accept my prayers and your elixir." If you know you know, only an intelligent mind will digest and think outside the box to understand one of the late Nigerian sages who worked and toiled for solutions to Nigeria's intractable and self-inflicted problems.
Folks, the "May your road be rough" prayer is an everlasting muse inked on our collective memory. It is also the honest handwriting and handprint "prayer" authored by Dr. Tai Solarin. The hold-no-barred prayer remains conspicuously glazed on our collective hearts' hollow void and hall; and the empty wall of Nigerian history.