July 19, 2024
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Wole Soyinka @ 90: A grand tribute at The African Centre in London

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  • June 30, 2024
  • 5 min read
Wole Soyinka @ 90: A grand tribute at The African Centre in London

By Editor

ON Friday, July 19 to Saturday, July 27, 2024, The Africa Centre, London, in partnership with Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, Nigeria (WSICE) will present a nine-day celebration honouring Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, at his 90th birthday. The first African Nobel laureate in Literature (1986) will take centre stage as his fans honour his immense contributions to literature, culture and human/civil rights advocacy.

From Friday, July 19 to Saturday, July 27, The Africa Centre will come alive with exhibitions, roundtables, film screenings, live music performances and poetry recitals. Visitors will be able to explore Soyinka’s literary journey with ‘WS: A Life in Full’ — a comprehensive display of his published works and photographs from his personal archive; NINE Seasons of KONGI (Wole Soyinka) – a collection of paintings by youth members of the Vision of The Child, mentored by Soyinka, and an incorporation of Africa I-D-E-N-T-I-T-Y, a touring showcase based on public reading of his poems realised in nine European cities, ORI Series II (For WS), a collection of conceptual water colour drawings by UK-based artist, Abolore Shobayo. Also included is a rare presentation of Soyinka’s passion collection of ‘Onicha Market literature’.

Another highlight of the programme will be the London premiere of a new feature film inspired by Soyinka’s seminal prison memoirs, The Man Died, to be accompanied by a Q & A session with the film’s director, Awam Amkpa, and producer, Femi Odugbemi, and some members of the cast and crew. Also premiering in London is Ebrohimie Road, a documentary based on Soyinka’s former residence on the University of Ibadan campus from where he was arrested in 1967, and where he returned after his release in 1969. It features revealing interviews with some of his children, siblings and associates. The director Kola Tubosun will also engage with the public.

Other activities will include daily screenings of films and documentaries related to or inspired by Soyinka’s life and work, and Kongi’s Nights, a series of evening entertainment including live music performances by ED Keazor & the AfroFunk Collective, Juwon Ogungbe, Lekan Babalola, Ola Onabule, Aduke, Kayefi, MeOlogo, Jazz session with Bumi Thomas, and music party with DJ Abass, etc; poetry recitals and wine-tasting. There will also be talks, seminars and workshops on ‘Navigating the New Publishing Industry’, ‘The impact of AI on Culture & Identity’, ‘Culture Sponsorship & Corporate Social Responsibility’ and a symposium on ‘The Future Is Now – A Decolonisation Intersection’ by partner institution Bournemouth University, while Utopia Theatre will host a virtual unveiling of Soyinka’s portrait at the University of Sheffield. Also on the bill is “Ijo-mode, a dance workshop for youths with Peter Badejo (OBE), as well as presentation of prizes to winners of the essay competition on the theme, “AI & New Media: Reimagining Culture, Identity & Humanity” organised in partnership with TURAKA Art Centre, Chatham, London.

The CEO of The Africa Centre, Olu Alake, said, “This year holds dual cause for celebration: The Africa Centre’s 60th anniversary and the 90th birthday of a global literary giant, Wole Soyinka. We are incredibly honoured to partner with WSICE in celebrating Professor Soyinka’s remarkable life and his long-standing association with the centre, dating back to 1969. He is not just a literary icon, but an integral part of our history. We are thrilled to host this momentous occasion and share Professor Soyinka’s story with all generations of literature lovers.”

The Executive Producer of Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, Dr. Teju Kareem, also said of the UK event line-ups, “Prof. Soyinka has consistently 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.”

Originally conceived to foster non-governmental relations between newly independent Africa and Britain, The Africa Centre has since evolved into a forward-thinking, inclusive, and respected cultural institution that promotes positive conversations about Africa. Our mission is to educate, connect and advocate for Africa and its diaspora. We are committed to serving as custodians of Africa’s cultural heritage in London and beyond. Empowering communities and accelerating cultural diversity and equality through collaboration, and strategic partnerships. Our programmes are relevant and impactful, addressing the needs and expectations of our diverse communities and transforming lives.

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

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