An Interview with Dele Babalola, MD: Author of the Biography of Tai Solarin

Dele Babalola, MDI was born in Nigeria , educated in Nigeria to university level. In primary school , I discovered reading and became the school librarian. In secondary school, I met Dr. Tai Solarin, who transformed my thinking with “You Can Become Whatever You Choose to Be ” and provided me the enabling environment of the school to do just that.

While in his school, I published my first verse at the age of 14 in the prestigious “Okike” magazine; wrote drama for the school’s stage also novelettes; edited the school magazine; was the President of the Young Farmer’s Club, the Medical Officer and Senior Prefect. I was one of the six students who gained direct entry to the university at first try and I read Medicine. I have practiced Medicine in Nigeria, Jamaica, Barbados, New Zealand and I am doing the same in Australia. Medicine is my avocation and writing my vocation!

Tell us about your book.

It is about my late secondary school’s headmaster, hero and mentor ; and about the great school he founded, Mayflower School, Nigeria. It is the story of a very ordinary man who decided to shape his own fate and destiny with his own hands, believing he could become whatever he chose to be without having to ask or depend on God for help or guidance. He founded a school based on this principle where religious freedom was guaranteed in the secular environment.

The students were trained to believe that they could become whatever they chose to be and were always reminded that the only person that could deter them were themselves. They were trained to be academic and intellectual giants and entrepreneurs who achieved great education relevant to the transformation of the Nigerian underdeveloped society. There is a story here for all mankind – that we can achieve our loftiest dreams if only we dare to dream and achieve the dream.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

I want to seize personal control of my publishing fate and not depend on the unpredictable decision of traditional publishers.

What tools or companies did you use, and what experience did you have?

I have only used one company so far – Xlibris. I am willing to learn along the way.

What did you learn on your journey as an author?

That it is a long and exciting journey and that there is a lot of help along the way from companies who are genuinely willing to assist new authors achieve their goals and, of course, there are those other companies who are there to exploit the author without a conscience.

Would you self-publish again?

Certainly. I have at least 5 book projects in my mind right now as I write!

What do you think are the main pitfalls for indie writers?

No idea. I am new here!

As a writer, what is your schedule? How do you get the job done?

I don’t have a particular schedule. I research my work and spend a great deal of time thinking through how it can be transformational to the reader. It is like a pregnancy. When my thoughts are fully saturated , the birth pains begin and the new book is ready to be born!

Tai Solarin: Africa’s Greatest Educationist and HumanistWhat tips can you give other authors looking to self-publish?

I have only one – and it is very broad – that they should not try to re-invent the wheel but learn from those who have being successful at it and the paths they have trodden.

What was your steepest learning curve during the publishing process?

That my manuscript was not perfect for publishing and that I still had a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot , especially concerning certain legal and copyright issues that I had not envisaged.

Why did you want to write a book?

I am a thinker & a philosopher; a Christian medical doctor, world traveler, voracious reader and adventurer – with all these drivers, writing had been a natural release valve!

Tell us about the genre you wrote in, and why you chose to write this sort of book.

I wrote a biography. I like to write about life as truthfully as possible, shunning fiction as much as possible. I want the reader to connect at a realistic plane and be positively transformed, physically and spiritually, by reading my work.

Who are your biggest writing inspirations and why?

1. The Bible and God – deep sources of wisdom and truths. 2. Wole Soyinka , the Nobel laureate, for his eclecticism. 3. Ayn Rand – her style of writing , empowering and sobering – that a writer can alter the thinking and behavior of humanity through the mastery of his or her craft. 4. Tai Solarin – that we can become whatever we choose to be.

What are your plans now your book is published?

To ensure the book achieves an optimal global recognition so that optimal readership and sales are achieved.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I never write until I am ready!

How do your friends and family get involved with your writing? What do they think of your book?

They are my best critics. I never discussed the work in progress but always the final product. They think I have a great talent and that I deserve to be discovered by the world!

Why did you write about this particular subject?

Because I think a lot of people are afraid to dare and take calculated risks that can improve their station in life. Someone said the richest place in the world is the graveyard – where people had been interred with ideas and dreams that were never realized from failure to try and crystallize them.

What authors do you like to read and why?

Wole Soyinka, Tai Solarin, The Bible and Ayn Rand for reasons mentioned above. Also James Michener – for his travels and adventurism; Bertrand Russell – for his brilliance and grasp of world philosophies; Sidney Sheldon – for great plots and ability to keep you spellbound; Charles Dickens – for power of characterization, and the list goes on….

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  • Tolu Aduroja

    Dr. Babalola is a formidable writer. He has succinctly written about Dr. Tai Solarin. Anybody needing to know about Dr. Solarin needs to read this book. Once again kudos to Dr. Babalola.