[email protected]: Children, artists tackle corruption

Wole Soyinka

Organisers have decided to spotlight corruption and its effects on the nation at this year’s Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange.

CORRUPTION: A battle for the arts’ has been announced as the theme of the 2016 Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) holding on July 13 and 14 in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Held annually since 2010 to mark the birthday of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who clocks 82 this year, the WSICE is promoted by Alhaji Teju Kareem’s ZMirage Multimedia Company and Professor Segun Ojewuyi’s Global New Haven based in the United States.

Series producer, Haneefat Ikharo, disclosed that the 2016 programme has been divided into two parts; the youth and the adult segments to enable people of different ages give their take on corruption and how it can be best tackled.

While the youth segment will feature an essay writing competition by students, the adult segment will feature two keynote speeches and an all-female panel discussion on ‘Corruption as it affects children, women and our common humanity’.

The participating 82 students in the essay competition will write on ‘Challenges or not, I love my country’ on July 13 and will be joined by 18 past winners who will write commemorative essays on the same topic.

The wife of the Ogun State governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, will have a mentorship session with the 82 students and 1000 other children from Ogun schools on the theme of the essay competition on July 14.  The students will also pay a courtesy visit to Governor Ibikunle Amosun and interact with Professor Soyinka in his country home inside the Ijegba Forest on the same day.

Other activities lined up for the youth include a spelling bee, dancing competition, fashion parade and debate.  The movie ‘Yeepa!’,  Tunde Kelani’s adaptation of Professor Femi Osofisan’s   ‘Who’s Afraid of Solarin’ will also be screened in the course of the program.

The adult segment also happening on July 14 at the Cultural Centre, Kuto, will feature amongst others, a special non-competitive essay writing competition involving winners of the last six editions. All the essays will be edited and subsequently published into a book.There will also be keynotes and an all-female- panel discussion around the ongoing anti-corruption war.

Public commentator, Tunde Fagbenle, will deliver the first keynote entitled ‘Corruption: A battle for the arts’ while Prof. Ojewuyi will deliver the second titled ‘Soyinka’s Text and the Battle against Graft:  A Director’s study of Death & the King’s Horseman’ to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the play.

Emeritus Professor of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, Femi Osofisan will be the special guest at the session while Emeritus Professor of Gender Studies and Theatre, University of Kansas, Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka will chair the occasion.

Ex-editor of the rested NEXT newspaper, Kadaria Ahmed;  founder, KIND, Hafsat Abiola Costello; ex-editor, Champion Newspaper, Rose Moses; and convener, No Banking Day, Sola Salako  will thereafter discuss ‘Corruption as it affects children, women and our humanity.’

The occasion will not be devoid of entertainment as there will be drama presentation entitled ‘Directing ‘Corruption’ in Soyinka’s Works’ by Dr. Tunde Awosanmi of the University of Ibadan.

Speaking on the selected themes, co-initiator, Kareem explained: “The topic for the youth segment is aimed at awakening the patriot in young Nigerians, even as many in the older generation have become disillusioned due to the recurrent failure of the Nigerian State.

“And for the adult segment, the choice of topic for the advocacy forum is to weigh in on the current battle against corruption by the government, especially to see how the arts can use its civilizing principles and tools to help the society cleanse itself of the virus of material and moral corruption. The arts cannot thrive in an environment polluted by the pervasive scourge of graft and moral decadence.”