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For WS@89, it’s season of archival retrospectives

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor

* Unveiling the Wole Soyinka Online Project

* Unveiling of ‘Etike Revolution: The 40th Anniversary Retrospective

* WSICE 2023 Explores Challenges, Prospects of Good Governance, Nation Building

CORA’s sixth BookTrek for 2023 is being co-hosted by Bookcraft Africa, and supported by ProvidusBank, and Winestitute. The event holds at 3.00pm on Sunday July 16, 2023 at Providus Bank Corporate Office Rooftop Lounge on Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island. It will feature readings by the author himself as well as a cross-generation of Nigerian aesthetes.

ACTIVITIES celebrating this year’s birthday of the venerable writer and Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, begins tomorrow with the 14th edition of the yearly Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE).

The event holds in hybrid format – virtual and on-site tomorrow, which is the 89th birthday of Soyinka.

The general Advocacy theme for the edition revolves around Good Governance and Nation Building.

“The thematic thrust is to reflect the mood of the nation, and indeed, many nations of the world, dealing with the existential problem of navigating the challenges of Nation Building through the prisms of good governance, individual and national interests and national development,” said WSICE’s Executive Producer, Dr. Teju Kareem, Managing Director/CEO of Zmirage Multimedia Company (ZMC).

According to him, “the youth section of the edition will focus on the central motif of the project: mentoring and grooming the new generation of thinkers and eventual leaders who would work for the overall national interest of lifting their country and their society to greater height of human and material development.”

The main activity of the 2023 edition will be the yearly essay writing competition, which is sponsored by Ogun State government and features secondary school students drawn from across the country writing on the theme: Wole Soyinka: Humanism, Artistry and Nationalism.

The theatre technologist and entrepreneur said, “the idea, as had been tradition of WSICE since inception, is to explore the ideals of Soyinka, whose life-career trajectory has manifested as an irrepressible patriot, committed nationalist and adherent advocate for good governance as a condition for effective and meaningful nation building. The objective is to use his life and career example as a template for understanding the dynamics of nation building, especially reflecting on the intellectual and material resources required to offer the necessary sacrifices towards accomplishing the ideals.”

For this edition, 89 students would on Thursday, July 13, converge on the base of the project at the Ijegba Forestage Theatre to write the essay in the full glare of the public, including their parents/guardians, teachers as well as other members of the public.

These students drawn from around Nigeria will write on this year’s theme. The objective is to deepen their understanding of the dynamics of nation building, especially to think through the examples already established through Wole Soyinka’s personal life and intervention in public discourses and engagements.

The number of the students-participants in the essay writing session is 89 — to tally with the 89th birthday anniversary of the grand inspiration behind the project, Soyinka, the writer, rights activists and polemicists, in whose honour the project was birthed in 2010.

Organised and sponsored by Zmirage Multimedia Ltd (Nigeria & UK) led by Dr. Teju Kareem, and jointly promoted with Global NewHaven led by Prof Segun Ojewuyi (Dean of College of Art & Media, Southern Illinois University, SIU, Carbondale, USA), the OpenDoorSeries continues to enjoy support from Ogun State government.

Executive Director, Culture Advocates Caucus (CAC), Jahman Anikulapo, said: “The WSICE has since inception mentored over 30,000 Secondary youth students and youths on various themes around justice, freedom, leadership, nation building and national development anchoring its yearly thematic focus on concepts that are core to Soyinka’s literary and public intellection careers.”

Unveiling the Wole Soyinka Online Project

ALSO, as part of events to mark the season, a three-in-one event will be staged in the evening of Sunday July 16 to unveil some archival materials from the vast artistic and intellectual resource of the Nobel laureate.

Holding from 6.00pm at the Freedom Park, the old colonial prison on Broad Street, Lagos Island, where the global culture icon, has his office, the Kongi’s Harvests Art Gallery, the double-bill event is essentially targeted at the youthful population, who may not be too familiar with the essences of the works of the writer, rights activist and teacher.

There will be a public unveiling of the Wole Soyinka Online Project. A platform designed to (re) introduce and celebrate the life and works of the global cultural icon and to activate a network of scholars of various levels across the world and attract the general public to reading and appreciation of the arts in general.

The project brings together over 50 writers leading from over 35 countries across the globe. It is a project of the Commonwealth Institute of Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS) and the Cambridge African Roundtable. Some of the contributors will be in attendance at the event, and will be engaged by members of the audience. CIAPS Institute Director, Anthony Kila, will lead the presentation.

Also billed for July 16 is presentation of the 40th anniversary remake of the evergreen socio-political song, Etike Revolution, composed and arranged by Wole Soyinka and first published in 1983 in the heat of political turmoil of the early 80s in the country.

Re-mastered and produced by Concrete Communications Studios, the song has been re-interpreted by an array of veteran and young artists of varied political and ideological persuasions, including, the veteran actors Taiwo Ajai-lycett, Jimi Solanke, Ben Tomoloju, Yemi Shodimu, Joke Silva; Edmond Enaibe, Yemi Solade; Tunji Sotiminrin and Francis Onwochei. Others include the songstresses and musicians such as, Yinka Davies, Debbie Ohiri; Isioma Williams; Edaoto Agbeniyi; and Segun Adefila; Jojo Bodybeats etc.

All the artists also back up their vocal contributions with interviews reflecting on the content of the song and its relevance to the situation on the country today. Excerpts from the interviews, which have been trending or weeks on social media will be screened. The presentation will be wrapped up with an extended interview with the composer and arranger himself, Soyinka.

The CEO Concrete Communications Studios, Sir Semoore Badejo, will lead the presentation.

…Presenting ‘Selected Poems (1965-2022): A Retrospective’

ALSO, the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) is co-hosting Professor Wole Soyinka to an afternoon of readings, conversations and signings around his latest published collection of verses.

The book is titled: Selected Poems (1965-2022): A Retrospective by Wole Soyinka. Bookcraft Africa publishes it.

CORA’s sixth BookTrek for 2023 is being co-hosted by Bookcraft Africa, and supported by ProvidusBank, and Winestitute.

The event holds at 3.00pm on Sunday July 16, 2023 at Providus Bank Corporate Office Rooftop Lounge on Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island.

It will feature readings by the author himself as well as a cross-generation of Nigerian aesthetes.

According to CORA scribe, Toyin Akinosho, two interlocutors will engage Soyinka in the course of the afternoon.

“The CORA BookTrek is a periodic author-audience interface featuring readings, reviews and discussions of select books of searching historical and contemporary insight into the African condition.

“It is part of CORA’s extension services, aimed at deepening literary appreciation and audience engagement with the published text,” Akinosho said.

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