For over a decade, the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, WSICE has been a global networking and empowerment platform for like-minded scholars and intellectuals both young and old. This year, however, the WSICE, in its 13th year, has refocused its agenda strictly on discovering and grooming young intellectuals and change makers from around the world, through its newly initiated International Youth Assembly, IYA. The IYA forms the nucleus of the three-in-one programming contents for the 2021 edition of the project, holding July 13 and 14 in hybrid format – virtual space and Live.
“Through the IYA, we intend for young people from diverse parts and cultures of the world to connect, engage and learn from one another as well as receive mentoring from eminent resource persons, who are themselves leaders in their individual area of discipline,” Teju Kareem, the Executive Producer of the project, who is also the CEO of ZMirage Multimedia Company, stated. He disclosed that the 2021 edition will, as is traditional to the project, mark the 87th birthday anniversary of the grand patron and inspiration behind the project, Prof Wole Soyinka, adding that the theme, “That Our FUTURE may not DISAPPEAR” has been specially conceived to address the now widely spread incident of ‘disappearing humanity’ through acts of kidnapping, abductions, human ‘cancels’, social and cultural discriminations on the bases of colour, creed, faith, physio-mental features and others.”
According to the WSICE Executive Producer, for the IYA session, “17 youths from four continents have been elected through a rigorous process to speak on the theme from their individual perspectives, and they will also Limitedbe mentored by thought leaders whom we have tagged, ‘Advocates of Conscience’, who will also explore the theme to help the young ones frame their thoughts about the future of our collective humanity.”
Throwing light on the contents of the 2021 edition, Aduke Aladekomo, who is the producer, said the programme is expected to feature over 5000 young people drawn from across four continents. She affirmed that the events will hold in hybrid format of virtual and live. The three events lined up are: the International Youth Assembly, the Advocacy Session, and the Writerly Workshop session, respectively.
The International Youth Assembly will feature past winners of the yearly WSICE essay contests who will be joined by contemporaries Macbethfrom other countries and cultures to “discuss the issue of disappearance of all forms and how it affects their future and the survival of the human family.” For the Advocacy Session, specially selected eminent cultural and educational leaders named “Advocates of Conscience” – who are renowned for having dedicated their time, life and careers to speaking for and working with young people, would share their experiences with participants in the youth assembly.
Featuring in the segment are: the renowned Caribbean performance poet-philosopher-activist, Mutabaruka, the American physician-storyteller, Dr Russell Low, and the Chinese-American classic musician, Jian Wang; the renowned choreographer, theatre maker and culture advocate, Segun Adefila and the humanitarian art maker, Seyi Oluyole. The advocacy has remained a flagship event of the yearly WSICE since its beginning in 2010. “It is another important platform that comes at a crucial time when the world is in need of critical thinking to seek out possibilities to the problems that even seem insurmountable,” stated Kareem. For the Writerly Workshop session, writers and members of the Association of Nigerian Authors,ANA (Ogun Chapter), will stage mentoring sessions on the theme with students drawn from schools in various parts of Ogun State.
While the discourse and Advocacy sessions was held on yesterday in the virtual space, the live event will hold today at the Ijegba Theatre Resort located in the heart of the Autonomous Republic of Ijegba, A.R.I – the thickly forested residence of the Nobel laureate who is the grand inspiration behind the project.
This segment will have over 100 pupils and students of Ogun State having a mentoring session with members of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA (Ogun State Chapter). To further consolidate on its international profile which it firmly established last year, the WSICE has renewed its partnership with the San Diego State University, SDSU in the United States, which will be the virtual host, and as well supplying some of the resource persons. The Moderators of International Youth Assembly (IYA) include Victory Ashaka (Nigeria), a multi-award-winning spoken word poet, artist, content creator, climate change activist and SDGs advocate; Anjolaoluwa Olanrewaju (Nigeria), a multi-talented creative, who is ambassador for Green Janitors, an initiative that focuses on keeping the environment clean and sustainable. The moderators: Victory Ashaka and Anjolaoluwa Olanrewaju are alumni of the Vision of the Child, VoTC, the youth segment of the rested Lagos Black Heritage Festival, LBHF, which was inspired by Prof Soyinka, and coordinated by Foluke George.