Storytelling is known to imbibe moral values through its didactic lessons. It is against this backdrop the genre is part of lined-up events to celebrate the iconic status of Black Africa’s only Nobel laureate of Literature, Professor Wole Soyinka in Abeokuta during this year’s edition of the Wole Soyinka International Culture Exchange (WSICE2015). In the words of Teju kareem, one of the head promoters of the event, “to realize the objective of the core International Cultural Exchange dimension of the project, we have identified two international reputable experts who engage storytelling to teach and mentor young ones, and have made tremendous impacts on the socialisation process in their respective stations”.


From the Diaspora is the Caribbean leading storytelling performer, Theodora Ulerie aka Anty Thea (Trinidad and Tobago) and from Nigeria, Mrs. Noma Sodipo, founder and anchor of the popular children TV programme, StoryTime with Auntie Noma (Nigeria). These two tested and core professionals will help us realise the objectives; they will run workshops and mentorship sessions with junior secondary schools drawn from Ogun State, and 81 senior secondary school students from across the country. The 81 from across the country represent the finalists in the annual essay competition, which will focus on the theme of the celebration “Justice & Freedom: Essential Conditions for Humanity”.

Theodora Ulerie aka Anty Thea
Theodora Ulerie aka Anty Thea

A core aspect of the yearly project is the Student mentorship programme during which the First Lady of Ogun State, Her Excellency, Mrs Olufunsho Amosun yearly counsels the gathering of hundreds of students drawn from Ogun State and rest of the country on the importance of education and imbibing moral lessons of patriotism and discipline. In the past three editions she has mentored over 10000 students in Nigeria and also in London, where she was a Guest of Honour in 2013. Two editions ago the First lady of Osun, Her Excellency, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola and the Deputy Governor, of the State, Otunba Grace Titi-Laoye also mentored over 1000 students drawn from Osun, and the 79 finalists in the year’s essay competition.

Mrs. Noma Sodipo,  aka Auntie Noma
Mrs. Noma Sodipo, aka Auntie Noma

Stressing on the objective of the ICE, Kareem stated: “We in ZMirage and GlobalNewHaven — believing firmly in the educative as well as entertaining functions of theatre and literary arts — have resolved to consistently commit time, energy and huge financial resources to this project so that the Arts, especially Theatre, can once again take pride of place in Nigeria and the world. The primary focus for us is the cultural exchange value of the project, which enables us reach out to the world, giving and receiving artistic contents that can change and enrich lives.

The Executive Producer revealed that much of the activities will be held in the 850-seater site-specific Amphitheatre installed last year to host the presentation of Soyinka’s epic, Dance of the Forests as directed by Tunde Awosanmi, head of department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan. The idea of staging much of the events in the forest theatre, noted Kareem, is to stress the educational and touristic virtues of the project. “We want the children to start identifying with the importance of such touristic facilities, and as well to have a feel of the grand model that Soyinka is by paying visit to his residential enclave”.

This year’s WSICE will be produced by Ms Haneefat Ikharo, Theatre Arts graduate of the University of Benin. She took over from the pioneer producer, Lillian Amah, a writer, actress and producer.