BY IFEOMA OKEKE
Anyone who had at one time or another spoken with or read the books of the great Icon and African writer, Wole Soyinka, will have a remarkable story to tell. To academics and literary scholars, he is a playwright, poet and novelist; to his family, a dedicated family man, but to Nigeria, he has been an untiring fighter for social justice and democrat. Wole Soyinka is reputed to have fought tirelessly for the freedom of Nigerians, putting Ogun State on the map today has become an inspiration to many who lives after him.
It is in this spirit of unity, patriotism and freedom that ZMirage Multimedia Company and GlobalNewHeaven led by Segun Ojewuyi of Southern Illinois, USA, who is co-Executive producer of the WS/ICE project initiated the Wole Soyinka project, a project that emulates the ideals of the great writer.
The ‘Open Door Series’ project, Wole Soyinka, WS, series for the past five years has been an international Cultural Exchange, ICE, Program designed for the purpose of using the platform of literature, Arts and culture to affirm and uphold the dignity of man.
The basis of the project is also to rekindle the dignity of man and achieve unity amongst mankind regardless of nationality, ethnicity and religion, engrave in the hearts of youths the believe that education, arts and culture are panaceas of fear and encourage intellectual development among the youths through literature. However, this year marks another page in the history of the people of Ogun state and the entire Nigeria as everyone celebrates the 80th birthday of the hero.
Speaking at a media chat at Kenta Estate, Ogun State, the very abode of Wole Soyinka, Yewande Amusan, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism said the day is not just to mark the birthday of the illustrious son of Ogun State but the State have resolved to partner with the companies sponsoring the event, adding that it symbolizes the continuation of the life of an inspirational man who has fought tirelessly and is still fighting for the dignity of man, the rights of individuals, unity and security of his nation.
“Many professions have been shaped by the standards set by the Ogun indigenes. It is hard to name any field where an Ogun indigene was not a pioneer. Sapara Williams in Law, Obafemi Awolowo in political administration, Lambo in Health, Akintola Williams in Accountancy, Fela Anikulapo Kuti in music, and now Wole Soyinka our Nobel Laureate in Literature,” Amusan said.
Amusan revealed that Ogun state is working rigorously under the administration of Ibikunle Amosun, to continually maintain this standard, which is evident in the ‘5-Cardinal programme’ as encapsulated in the ‘Mission to Rebuild’ Ogun state and particularly the creation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as to identify, preserve, promote, propagate the state’s indigenous cultural heritage and tourism potentials towards socio-economic development of the state.
The WS80/ICE exhibition tour will be held in Abeokuta, Osogbo, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Ibadan, Jos and Igbale Aiye, Republic of Benin. The dramas to be shown includes ‘Childe Internationale’ by Grace Adinkwu on 7th July , ‘Alapata of Apata’ by Tunde Awosanmi at Akin Olugbabe Centre, Abeokuta on 9th of July, ‘Death & the King’s Horseman’ in Unilag on 10th July, ‘Lanke Omu’ by Tunde Kelani/Tunde Awosanmi on July 11th – 12th at the Cultural Centre Abeokuta, ‘Oba Koso’ by Duro Ladipo Company on 12th of June at the Cultural Centre, ‘Spoken Word’ on 12th of June at the Cultural Centre, ‘Dance of the Forest’ by Tunde Awosanmi on 14th July and ‘Mad men and Specialists’ on 19th July by Patrick Jude Oteh at the Jos Repertory dir.
There will be 25 delegates keynote speakers, 80 students essayist from around the country, 80 spoken words performers, conference on the topic, ‘The Soyinka Impulse:(Arts, Humanity, transition and permanence: calibrating Soyinka at 80). There will also be visit to Ogun Governor, visit to Soyinka at Ijegba, cultural exchange among delegates and lot more activities.
Teju Wasee Kareem, Executive Producer of project WS the activities planned for the WS80/ICE includes essay competition among secondary students from all over the country, children’s creative and cultural expression presentation, conference and advocacy submit, tours of landmark places in selected states of the country, reflections and dialogues on our national life and Africa through poetry and spoken words and play and dance performance, amongst others.
According to Kareem: “International spoken word performers, as well as keynote speakers, from several universities abroad will join their Nigerian counterparts in the educational and cultural fiesta.”
He disclosed that different institutions and countries around the world will be joining to celebrate the black Africa’s first Nobel laureate in Literature with poetry, dances, spoken words and songs, adding that some of the representative countries are Nigeria, Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belgium, London and United States of America.
Kareem acknowledged the support of the Government of Ogun State led by Ibikunle Amosun, Ondo State led by Olusegun Mimiko, Osun State led by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Rivers State and numerous other partners especially in print, electronic and social media in joining hands with the project to spread the word that global diplomacy can be achieved through arts and culture.