For Soyinka, WSICE Plans Lagos, London  Celebrations

Yinka Olatunbosun

The 15th edition of the annual Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) is eagerly anticipated as it unfolds in two vibrant tranches: the first, a captivating blend of virtual and onsite events from July 13 to 16 in Nigeria, and the second, a cultural extravaganza in London from July 19 to 27. 

This remarkable celebration marks the 90th birthday anniversary of the esteemed Nobel laureate, Professor Oluwole Akinwande Soyinka, whose extraordinary life journey and distinguished legacy as a visionary artist and global advocate catalysed the inception of this transformative initiative back in 2010.

The WS90/WSICE2024 theme “Engaging National Interest in Good Governance, Understanding, and Nation-Building” is a summation of the over seven decades of commitment and struggles of Soyinka as a nationalist, patriot, and humanist, as evident in his creative works and consistent public engagement.

E.N.I.O.G.U.N. embodies his life-long commitment to the cause of nation-building through his relentless fight for the national interest that would ensure good governance for the wellbeing of the general citizenry.

While the theme domiciles an appreciation of Soyinka’s commitment to his birth country, Nigeria, it is by extension an appreciation of his global service to humanity in general, which has seen him advocating for justice, freedom, and respect for the rights and freedom of citizens all over the world. The theme will be the focus of all the programme items in the edition.

The celebration will embrace several programming ideas that have been features of the WSICE since its birth, including essay writing, advocacy, doing your own thing, and performances.

Reflecting on the theme E.N.I.O.G.U.N.—E-Engaging N-National Interest O-n G-ood Governance Understanding and building for WSICE 2024, Dr. Teju Kareem, Executive Producer of the WSICE, stated: “Prof. Soyinka has pursued the betterment of society through his support for freedom and the common good of all, irrespective of age, class, gender, religious, or political persuasions, making his work a global service to humanity. His career spanning academia, literature, and activism exemplifies a profound commitment to creating a just and equitable world, thus encapsulating the essence of E.N.I.O.G.U.N. as both a personal and a universal pursuit.

The highlight of the UK phase of the celebration will be the London premiere of The Man Died, a feature film inspired by Soyinka’s classic prison memoir of the same title. Starring Wale Ojo, Sam Dede, Nobert Young, Francis Onwochei, and Christiana Osunniyi, the film is directed by Awam Amkpa, Soyinka’s former student and professor of Theatre, Media, and Cultural Aesthetics at the New York University in Abu Dhabi, where he is currently the dean of humanities and deputy provost.

The film screening event will also feature, over the course of the duration of July 19 to 27, other films, especially documentaries on the life and career of Soyinka.

Organised in collaboration with The Africa Centre, the event enjoys the support and participation of reputable institutions in the UK, such as the London School of Economics and Bournemouth University, amongst others.

The WSICE is organised on the platform of the OpenDoorSeries Project, an international cultural exchange programme designed for the purpose of using the platforms of the arts (literary and performing) and culture to affirm and uphold the dignity of man.Organised and sponsored by Zmirage Multimedia Ltd. (Nigeria and the UK), led by Dr. Teju Kareem, and co-produced with Prof. Segun Ojewuyi (immediate past dean of the College of Art & Media, Southern Illinois University, SIU, Carbondale, USA), the OpenDoorSeries continues to enjoy support from public and corporate organisations, especially the Ogun State Government.

The Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange mission is to reaffirm and elevate the dignity of man through the platforms of literature, the arts, and culture.

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