After three days of intense and thought provoking discussions on the concept of Ubuntu and our humanity as it has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) 2020 edition with the theme ‘I Am because YOU ARE’ came to a successful conclusion. This year’s edition of the event, anchored by Culture Advocate and former Editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Jahman Anikulapo, was held via Zoom and broadcast on YouTube Live and Facebook Live. It featured a global audience of students, parents, teachers, culture enthusiasts and influencers from countries around the world.
The event enjoyed quality participations, questions and contributions from over 1000 audience members who joined the program online via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook. Day one kicked off with a welcome address from the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, followed by a tribute to Professor Wole Soyinka from Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.
There were also performances from the Ogun State Cultural Troupe as well as the Ekiti State Cultural Troupe. The Advocacy Conference was moderated by Professor Niyi Coker of the San Diego State University with a Keynote address delivered by Professor Lilly Cheng of San Diego State University who spoke extensively on the importance of humanity and how our lives are an extension of each other and everyone we encounter in our journey.
Responses to the Keynote address were given by Michael Li of the Beijing Shenmo Education Group who spoke about how the use of the Abacus in education has positively impacted the lives of many children in China and around the world. Other responders included Dr. Bunmi Oyinsan a Nigerian based in Canada, Dr. Cristian Aquino-Sterling from USA, Shabaka Thompson from Trinidad & Tobago and Leolyn Jackson from South Africa.
Day two started with a symposium titled ‘Re-Imagining our World Post Pandemic’ moderated by Project Co-Executive Producer, Professor Segun Ojewuyi of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA. The Symposium was headlined by Professor Joseph A. Brown, a Professor in the department of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale USA.
Responses were delivered by Lucille Huguet a journalist from France, Daves Guzha a Social Justice Activist and Culture Advocate from Zimbabwe, Dr. Ndidi Nwaneri a Social and International development Consultant from Nigeria, Professor Veronique Maisier of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, USA and Nathan Kiwere a film maker from Uganda. The discussion was later opened up for audience participation which gave rise to very brilliant contributions from young people many of whom had also participated in the essay competition.
Day three was announcement of the Essay competition winners. According to the organisers, over 2,500 entries were received from 28 countries worldwide covering five language regions (Anglophone, Lusophone, Francophone, Hispanophone and Sinophone).
Some of the countries include Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nepal, China, USA, Bolivia, Kenya, DR Congo, South Africa, Philippines, Malawi, Cuba, Bangladesh, Barbados, Brazil, Pakistan, Colombia and Indonesia. “These essays were adjudicated by our team of well-rounded and qualified judges from around the world including Dr. Razinat Mohammed of the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria Dr. Cristian Aquino-Sterling (USA), Lucile Huguet (France), Professor Veronique Maisier (USA), Professor Robert Fox (USA), Dr. Nadia Embleton from (UK), Yayra Tamakloe (Ghana), Mr. Olivier Alfonsi (France), Professor Lilly Cheng (USA/China), Lily Birmingham (Taiwan), Rosa Ovshinsky (China), Keyna Eleison (Brazil), Felix Ayoh Omidire (Nigeria).”
In the senior category (Ages 17 to 22) of the essay competition, Tyrone Nkululeko Takawira from Zimbabawe emerged the Global Prize Winner and First Place Anglophone Winner of $1,000, Boluwaduro Abasiekem Adeyemi, a Nigerian Based in Barbados (Runner Up Anglophone Winner – $300), Felista Biluge from DR Congo (First Place Francophone Winner – $500), Emmanuel Adjanor from Cote D’ivoire (Runner Up Francophone Winner – $300), Yuying Zhufrom China (First Place Sinophone Winner – $500), Jiayi Li from China (Runner Up Sinophone winner – $300), Samson Ikechukwuka Arewah from Nigeria (First Place Hispanophone winner – $500), Mayra Mileidy Pedraza-Fernandez from Colombia (Runner Up Hispanophone Winner – $300), Pedro Hermenegildo Goncalves Capita from Angola (First Place Lusophone winner – $500), Delcia Da Conceicao Verissimo Da Costa from Angola (Runner Up Lusophone winner – $300), Leta Daniel from Uganda (1st Place Consolation Diaspora Prize Winner – $200), MajeedatAbdulmajeed from Nigeria/Cuba (1st Runner Up Consolation Diaspora Prize Winner – $100), Anushree Chaudhuri from USA (2nd Runner Up Consolation Prize Winner – $100).
Essay Winners in the Junior Category (Ages 12 to 16) are; Thelma Iheanacho from Nigeria (Global Prize Winner and First Place Francophone Winner – $600), Toluwanimi Sonuga from Nigeria (Runner Up Francophone Winner – $200), Emily Suh from USA (First Place Anglophone Winner – $300), Joseph Divine from Nigeria (Runner Up Anglophone Winner – $200), Shaoyuan Li from China (First Place Sinophone Winner – $300), Pamphile Sassi Aubert from Nigeria/China (Runner Up Sinophone Winner – $200), Vera Honam Anthonio from Ghana (1st Place Consolation Diaspora Prize Winner – $200), Sampada Dahal from Nepal (Runner Up Consolation Diaspora Prize Winner – $100). Celebrities like Richard Mofe-Damijo, Joke Silva, Sam Dede, Lillian Amah-Aluko (Also the Consulting Producer of WSICE) and many more were present to also give their take on the Project Theme I AM because YOU ARE and also participated in randomly selecting 86 participants to win prizes in the raffle draw. There were numerous tributes both live and written from Nollywood celebrities, theatre performers, directors and producers, members of the academic community, former students and Mentees around the world to Prof. Soyinka on his 86th Birthday.
“The WSICE online Art exhibition for this year was launched on our website on July 13th. The exhibition was curated by Asiri Magazine’s Oludamola Adebowale with works contributed by the Olu Ajayi Studios from their Living Legend Series on Prof. Wole Soyinka.
The Exhibition titled Timeless Memories: The Humanity of WS is the 3rd in the timeless memories series which commenced in 2018. An e-book of all the exhibition pieces was also published on our Website and can be downloaded.” Several recorded films and live performances were screened via zoom at the WSICE 2020 to the delight of the audience. Films from renowned film makers featured include; The White Hand kerchief (A short film by TundeKelani), Ab’obaku (A short film Directed by NijiAkanni), Oriki (A documentary directed by Femi Odugbemi), A Story Yaa Knows (A Documentary produced by Yaa Carnival Group/De CORE).
Theatre performances include Wole Soyinka’s The Strong Breed (directed by KesienaObue), an outstanding live Zoom reading of Soyinka’s The Bacchae Of Euripides by Jeffrey Page and other actors around the USA, The Lion and The Jewel Produced and performed by the National Drama Company of Guyana and King Baabu directed by ToyinOshinaike.
Storytellers, America based YayraTamakloe from Ghana and Sonia Aimy from Nigeria were also present to dazzle our young audience members with musical folklores and stories. Afro- soul and World Music singer Aduke dazzled the audience with her melodious voice as she performed her single Man is Man. Also worthy of note are the dance performance of My Culture My Pride by Children of the Gifted Steppers Academy directed by Oma Harrison and the Hunter’s Dance by The Footprints of David directed by Seun Awobajo. Both groups are world famous and are known for their outstanding performances of African and Nigerian dance styles and techniques.
The performances were crowned by hilarious Poetry performance by Segun Adefila of Crown Troupe of Africa title Open Letter to Corona Something written by Oriade. Akeem Lasisi also gave a great performance of his poem OriAgbe which is dedicated to Prof. Wole Soyinka. The last but also very intriguing performance of the event was the Spoken Word and Storytelling performance live from Trinidad andTobagohostedbyamemberof theWSICE team Mr. Shabaka Thompson and featuring spoken word artists like Brother Book (Hollis Peters), Abdul-Majeed Abdul-Karim, Cheryl Griffith, DerronSandy, ShabakaKambonand Theodora Ulerie (Auntie Thea).