His private residence in the lushforest of Ijegba in Ibara Housing Estate, Kenta Idiaba in Abeokuta became an engaging center of learning for 84 students from the 36 states in Nigeria and also 1000 students from schools all over Ogun State. It was the Professor’s ideal way of celebrating his 84thbirthday; to instill discipline and cultivate an inquisitive mind which constantly questions the status quo, as it seeks for knowledge. For the children it was a rare opportunity to be hosted by Africa’s first Nobel Laureate.
The Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange held between July 12th and 15th in honour of literary Icon’s 84th Birthday. The annual essay competition featured 84 students whose writing and literary skills of Wole Soyinka’s poems were put to test at the 1000-seater Amphitheatre, located on the grounds of the Nobel Laureate’s home. The Exchange project which kicked off 9 years ago was Wole Soyinka’s idea of giving and impacting young minds as he grows older, thus creating a perfect cycle –strengthening the younger generation for the task ahead
The Cultural exchange programmme featured children from different schools across Nigeria, and they partook in different creative educative exercises that brought out the best in them. The theme of this year’s project was ‘The Pursuit of Truth: Lies and National Psyche.’
In the course of the programme, the Children were hosted to a private one on one with Prof. Soyinka, the private session also had in attendance, the Deputy Governor of Ogun State,Chief Yetunde Onanuga who represented the governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Chief Yetunde Onanuga told the children to emulate the virtues of the literary legend, and also to aim higher in life. After that the Winners of the Essay completion were called out and awarded different prizes. Onyemelukwe Brando Obioma from Dority International school, Aba,Abia came 1st ,Obioma, Mbagwu Nzebechukwu Federal Government College,Imo state came 2nd place, while Okoronkwo Mmesomachi from Dority International school,Aba,Abia State came 3rd place..
The interaction with the children was a quite interesting as the Children asked Prof Soyinka different questions, and the Celebrant didn’t hold back as he took his time to answer all the questions that came his way. One of the children asked Prof. Soyinka why he didn’t have a “big house with swimming pool and a fleet of luxury cars”, Prof. Soyinka replied by saying he preferred a free creative space to having a luxurious environment.
The Grand finale of the International Cultural Exchange project saw the children showcasing their individual talents and skills during a workshop and free creative session tagged, “DO YOUR OWN THING”. Later there was the cutting of the birthday cake by Prof. Wole Soyinka, his wife and the organizers of the exchange Project.
The WSICE is a yearly project initiated in 2010 by the Management of Zmirage Multimedia Company led by the technical exponent and business man, Alhaji Teju Kareem and US-based GlobalNew Heaven headed by the theatre director and cultural scholar, Professor Segun Ojewuyi. Other Facilitating members of the WSICE project includes, Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo, Dr. Tunde Awosanmi, Shabaka Thompson, Lilian Amah-Aluko,Lynda Amadi, Razinat Talatu Mohammed,Sussan Harrocks, Barretta Chullen and Haneefat Efue Ikharo.
Image Credit: Iyinkaye Al-Ameen of Photons Photography
ASIRI Magazine is a Media Partner of the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange
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