Amidst fun, excitement and backslapping, the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) 2016 came to an end with the symbolic burning down of corruption last Thursday at Ijegba, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Organised by Zmirage Multimedia to mark Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka’s 82nd birthday, the event kicked off on Wednesday July 13 with an essay competition after the 82 students had been accredited and assigned identification numbers. As they sat in the hall ready to commence writing, you could see the anxiety in their eyes. The topic of the essay was ‘Challenges or Not, I Love my Country’.
The results of the essay competition were announced by head adjudicator, Dr. Razinatu Mohammed on July 14 at Oba’s Complex inside the premises of the Ogun State government secretariat, and in the presence of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, his deputy, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, Secretary to the State Government, Engr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Modupe Mujota, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Dayo Adeneye, and the celebrant himself, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
Akinremi Naomi Ayomide of St. Peters College, Olomore emerged overall winner, Sotonwa Adedoyin Goodness of Mayflower Senior Secondary School, Ikenne came second while Edigbo Friday Zacchaeus of Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode placed third. Governor Amosun and Prof. Soyinka presented trophies to them.
The ‘Do Your Own Thing’ event took place at the Ogun State Cultural Centre with the 82 essay finalists, 18 past winners and 600 other Ogun State students. The students were given the opportunity to showcase their talents in poetry, ewi (indigenous praise chants), reading, and debate competitions. Ogun State Commissioner for Education, representing the wife of the governor, was also present to mentor the students on the topic ‘Challenges or Not, I Love My Country’.
Later, Prof. Soyinka hosted the students at his Ijegba home. Also present at the event was his sister, Mrs. Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka, who was the chairperson of the WSICE 2016 advocacy. Soyinka spoke to the students about the need to persevere and hold on to their dreams until it is fulfilled.
On Thursday, the advocacy session started with poetry recitation by Yinka Ola Williams followed by a performance by the Ogun State Cultural Troupe. The Guest of Honour Prof. Femi Osofisan addressed the audience followed by Prof. Ajayi-Soyinka. The keynote speakers, Mr. Tunde Fagbenle and Prof. Segun Ojewuyi gave profound talks on the theme, ‘Corruption, A Battle for the Arts’ with Prof. Ojewuyi using Death and the King’s Horseman, one of Soyinka’s plays, as a backdrop. The discussion session was interesting and enlightening, as Hafsat Abiola-Costello, Rose Moses and Kadaria Ahmed led discussion on ‘Corruption as it affects Children, Women… and our Humanity’. Ms. Sola Salako anchored the session.
However, the highlight of the event was the figurative burning of corruption, as the sign of ‘corruption’ mounted in the Ijegba forest amphitheater, venue of the closing ceremonies, was set ablaze amidst curses and abuses on all corrupt entities in Nigeria.