When talking about the yearly Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Project, WSICE, perhaps, it makes sense to remember the first edition in 2010. The image of 76 actors strutting the red carpet of Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, Onikan, Lagos to celebrate the venerable writer and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, still sit tight in the minds. The actors dazzled in a flurry of camera flashes. They couldn’t stop smiling. They really enjoyed the moment in their different costumes from some of Soyinka’s plays.
Over the years, the project has gone through complete transformation from when it was first held as a theatre fiesta, and Preemptive, a play, which seeks to celebrate the indomitable energies and excellence of Nigerian and American theatre fused together, was performed.
Each edition has brought its own peculiarities, which have sustained the project till date. And what has made the yearly congregation, which, as it was, a mini art festival, topical in Nigerian art discourse, is the great professionalism and manner it addresses issues germane to Nigerian performance repertoire.
Speaking on the ninth edition of the Cultural Exchange Project, WSICE 84, which holds from July 12 to 15 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, the Executive Producer, Teju Kareem, said arrangements have been concluded for a successful show.
“The theme for this year is, The Pursuit Of Truth (Truth and the National Psyche), otherwise interpreted as, The Pursuit of Truth in our Country,” he stated.
In the words of Kareem, the theme is “inspired by the observed intense preoccupation of the Nobel Laureate with the devastating consequences of lie in our national psyche, which also extends to global discourses, especially the invention of the term fake news, which now seems to pervade public discourse and information flow.”
Kareem continued, “Soyinka’s engagement with the pursuit of truth “has been consistently captured in his latest publications — The two new Intervention series (Vol. 6 &7) and the earlier volume, InterInventions, from which the quote below has been excerpted: ‘My commitment to the belief in the fundamental right of all human beings ‘Not To Be Lied Against’ remains a life obsession… I despise that species of humanity whose stock in trade is to concoct lies simply to score a point, win an argument, puff up his or her ego, denigrate or attempt to destroy a fellow being’.”
Kareem said, “a yearly essay competition, which has been a regular event is in the cultural exchange, will feature 84 students writing analyses of three of Soyinka’s poems — in a reality television-like setting at the 1000-seater amphitheatre situated in the neighbourhood of the laureate’s Autonomous Residency Ijegba (ARI) in the forested part of Ibara Housing Estate, Abeokuta. The particular poems will be unveiled to the participants only minutes to the commencement of the essay writing exercise.”
Sample entries have been collected from senior secondary schools around the country for the essay competition. All submitted entries have been marked and the 84 students with the highest scoring essays have been invited for the final competition holding July 13 at the Amphitheatre in Ijegba, Abeokuta.
According to the executive producer, “1,000 students from Ogun State schools will join the 84 finalists, where they would participate in workshops to varied creative endeavours. Poets drawn from writers organisations domiciled in Ogun State will conduct the workshops. The students will also be given opportunity to showcase their individual talents and skills during the workshop and a free expressive creative session called Do Your Own Thing.”
He said, “the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has confirmed his visit to the participants in the course of the second day of the workshop on July 14, where the results of the final essay competition would be announced, and awards (for winners) and certificates given to all participants.
“The participants would be privileged to have a one-on-one encounter with the Nobel laureate, whose distinguished personality and accomplishments as a global citizen and eminent promoter of the good of humanity, inspired the project.”
Said Kareem: “This is a mentoring session that marks a highpoint of events for the students, as they could ask the distinguished dramatist, poet, political and literary activist and professor of Comparative Literature any question about his life, career and situations in the local and global politics.”
The WSICE84 will also feature guest participants from the Southern Illinois University in the USA, who will be on a weeklong tour of key culture and tourism facilities around the country.
The WSICE is a yearly programme initiated in 2010 by the management of ZMirage Multimedia Company led by the technical theatre exponent, and businessman, Alhaji Teju Kareem and the US-based GlobalNewHaven headed by the theatre director and culture scholar, Professor Segun Ojewuyi.
Source: G Entertainment