10th WSICE holds in three states

NINE years after it was last held in Lagos, some activities of the 10th annual Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE), will happen in the Centre of Excellence

Held to celebrate the birthday of the Nobel Laureate since 2010, the 10th WSICE, marking the 85th birthday of Prof Soyinka, and a decade of consistent programming by the Teju Kareem and Professor Segun Ojewuyi-led Open Door Series will hold from July 12 to 15 in Lagos, Abeokuta, Ogun State (its home for the past eight years) and Akure, the Ondo State capital.

While most students/youth-focused programmes like Essay Writing, Workshop, Youth Creative Expressions would still take place in Abeokuta, the mentoring session will hold in Akure. The adult session – Advocacy session, drama, dance and poetry performances, film screening and book presentations amongst others would hold at Freedom Park, Lagos Island.

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On Friday, July 12, the advocacy session exploring Soyinka’s body of works to reflect on the concepts of Rights, Honour, Respect, Patriotism, Tolerance and Humanism will hold in the Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery, Freedom Park.  It will be followed by the presentation of three books, the first being a compilation of winning essays by past winners of the annual WSICE essays competition titled ‘Memo on our Future: Essays by Nigerian Childrenas inspired by Wole Soyinka’s Visions’. The second book is ‘Igho goes to School’, a children book by the culture journalist, AnoteAjeluorou, which reprint has been facilitated by the WSICE — to be distributed to about 1000 students across the country; and introduction of ‘The Soyinka Impulse: Essays on Wole Soyinka’ edited by Duro Oni and Bisi Adigun. It is published by Bookcraft and is a collection of presentations by scholars during an international conference held during Soyinka’s 80th birthday five years ago.

The Creative Majesty Theatre Company will present Soyinka’s ‘Childe Internationale’ later that afternoon while an interdisciplinary artist and activist based in Los Angeles, California, Rebecca Jackson-Moeser, will coordinate the Projection Theatre segment featuring the Kendrick and McKenzie multiple projection surfaces.  The day’s event would be rounded off with a musical and poetry session, featuring performers at the Food Court.

On July 13, Soyinka’s birthday, 85 preselected students from schools around Nigeria will participate in the Essay Writing Competition at the Ijegba Forest Theatre close to Soyinka’s home in Abeokuta.  Do Your Own Thing, a talent display event will happen at the same venue.  The 85 finalists will have the opportunity of asking Prof Soyinka any question of their choice the following day at an interaction with him in his residence while the results of the essay competition would also be announced.

Wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, will mentor the 85 students alongside other 500 senior secondary school students from the state on Monday, July 15 in Akure. The participants will also be presented with copies of the WSICE @ 10 books, ‘Memo to our Future… ‘and ‘Igho Goes to the Farm’ at the occasion.

Speaking on the celebration, Co-Executive Producer of the WSICE, Kareem explained that it’s not a mere festival or party of Soyinka’s birthday. “The OpenDoorSeries/WSICE is not to be misconstrued as a mere celebration of Wole Soyinka’s date of birth – the man is not, in any way, really interested in such vanities as staging a party to celebrate his yearly birthday. The project is designed to celebrate the quintessential artiste as a renowned promoter of the good of humanity. And especially to set his exemplary philosophies and visionary ideas as promoted in his works and lifestyle as real examples for peoples across race, gender, age, religious and political persuasions, especially the young ones, who need models they can relate to,” he said.

Kareem also disclosed why the celebration is being taken to the Freedom Park. He said, “The resolve to take the 10th-anniversary celebration to the Freedom Park, which remains the topmost hub for artistic productions and creative expressions in the country, is partly in recognition of Wole Soyinka’s status as the patron saint of the Park, and of creativity in Nigeria and Africa.”