Tales from 2017 Wole Soyinka Int’l Cultural Exchange

By Prisca Sam-Duru

Events marking the 2017 edition of the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, WSICE Project, ended recently in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The weeklong  programme commenced with the arrival on July 12, of the 83 finalists in the annual WSICE Secondary School Essay competition, who were made to write an essay on the topic: ’Intolerance; The Burden of our Moral and National Conscience’.

Graced by the Nobel Laureate himself, who welcomed the finalists from 17 states, the students were mentored on the importance of TOLERANCE in human relationships, especially in the area of nation building.

The Essay writing competition took place on July 13, and at the end, head of the jury Dr. Razinat Mohammed (an English Language lecturer with the University of Maiduguri announced Hawkins-Ogelle Emmanuel of Jomeg College, Umuahia,   Abia State as coming tops; Nwanga Solomon of St. Charles Secondary

School, Nigercem, Ebonyi came 2nd while Aboloko Erica of Breakthrough Academy, Ogun State took the 3rd position. The 1st place winner was given a scholarship worth N100000 while the 2nd and 3rd place winners received N75000 and N50000 respectively.

As part of the WSICE 2017, there was a performance of one of   Soyinka’s classic drama, ‘Death and The King’s Horseman’ at the JF Ade Ajayi Hall (formerly UNILAG Auditorium)  as directed by Bisi Adigun, Founder/Artistic Director of Ireland-based Arambe Productions. The production featured popular performers such as Tunji Sotiminrin, Wale  Obadeyi, Bukky Ogunnote and Tunde Onikoyi among others.

After the highly emotional result announcement and presentation of prizes and certificates, the students were taken on a tour of Prof. Soyinka’s country home, otherwise called the Ijegba Forest Residence in Idi Aba. They were received by the former head of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan and an associate of Soyinka, Dr. Tunde Awosanmi, who also mentored them on the essence of the chosen life and lifestyle of the Nobel Laureate. He enjoined them to emulate the good, focused and disciplined life of Soyinka, and imbibe the spirit of humanism that defined his life and career.

Awosanmi presented each of the 83 students with CD recording of Mandeland, a collection of poems by renowned poets selected from around the world in tribute to the legendary political activist/prisoner and former South African president, Nelson Mandela, but which were voiced by Soyinka himself.

From the Ijegba Forest, the students were then taken on a tour of the famous Olumo Rock in Abeokuta.

The creative workshop for the targeted 1000 Ogun State had students learning how to make accessories and book covers with Ankara fabrics and also print making using oil paint and glass. They also had workshops on storytelling, dance and acting. The students were very excited and eager to learn and at the end of the day came up with very beautiful crafts and print drawings.

The events came to a climatic end with the staging of the dance-drama ”Obi at’Orogbo’ by the youthful-members of Footprints of David as devised by Seun Awobajo at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta.


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