2020 Wole Soyinka Essay Competition; winners emerge July 14

Winners in the international essay competition of the 11th Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) will earn various sums denominated in American dollars, when the prize announcement ceremony holds on Tuesday, July 14 via Zoom.

The competition, which ran June 5-26, was organised in two categories: Junior (12-16 years) and Senior (17-22), and attracted participation from five language zones of the world: Anglophone (English), Francophone (French), Cinophone (Chinese), Hispaphone (Hispanic) and Lusophone (Portuguese). Entries were submitted by participants from Nigeria; South Africa; Nepal; Pakistan; Ghana, Uganda; Angola; Barbados; Brazil; The Gambia; United States of America; Cuba; Cameroon; Kenya; Malawi; Tanzania; Zambia; China; United Arab Emirates; Canada; Philippines; Bangladesh; Indonesia; Zimbabwe.

The winners in the two categories will win various Dollar sums: Senior — Global $500=$1000; Junior — Global J+$300=$600, Global Winner CDP-S-$200 R-$100=300, Winner CDP-J-2000. R-$100=300.

The theme of the competition was: I AM because YOU ARE, inspired by UBUNTU, the Southern African cultural philosophy on the principle of interdependence of the Human Famil. The theme is especially relevant now in the era of covid-19, which has ruptured the fabric of collective humanity, in particular due to its protocol of social and physical distancing.

The essay writing competition represents the Students/Youths section of the annual project. The over 2000 entries went through four levels of adjudication involving 12 judges appointed from the various language zones, most of them in the academic and cultural advocacy sectors. The longlists were then sent to external judges to serve as auditors of the decisions arrived at by the adjudicators.

“We went through that long, elaborate process to ensure transparency of the competition, and integrity of the entire project. Though the two virtues of transparency and integrity have always been our core principles since inception of the project 11 years ago, they have become even more imperative now that we have taken the project to the global stage,” stated Teju Kareem, Executive Producer of the WSICE.

The winners of the dollar prizes will be formally unveiled during the ‘Meet & Greet’ which will hold virtually in the evening hours of Tuesday, July 14th,

Interested members of the public have been advised to join the zoom party via: Meeting ID: 835 7543 6744; Password: WSICE2020.

The Wole Soyinka Advocacy Session

The second main programme of the WSICE , The Wole Soyinka Advocacy Session will hold for two days — Sunday July 12 to Monday, 13th, via Zoom, and it will feature 13 paper presentations in total on the main theme, I AM because YOU ARE with two keynotes: “Pursuit of Happiness and our Common Humanity” to be addressed by Prof. Li-Rong Lilly Cheng of the Chinese Cultural Centre, San Diego University, USA. Her presentation which emphasises on the interdependence of the human family, will be supported by Dr. Michael Li, an educator and president of Beijing Shenmo Education Group, which stresses on the importance of love, care and respect for others. Other speakers are experts in various disciplines of the humanities and they are drawn from five countries— Dr. Bunmi Oyinsan, women empowerment advocate (Nigeria/Canada), Dr. Cristian R. Aquino-Sterling, education researcher (Spain), Shabaka Thompson, culture researcher (Trinidad & Tobago), and Leolyn Jackson, education administrator (South Africa).

The second session of the Advocacy is on the theme: “Reimagining Our World post-Pandemic, and will be moderated by Professor Segun Ojewuyi, a theatre and culture scholar, who aside being the head of Directing at the Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA, is also co-Executive Producer of the WSICE. He is well reputed as an expert in Soyinka’s drama and theatrical philosophy. The keynoter is Professor (Fr) Joseph Brown, a Roman Catholic priest, who teaches in the Africana Studies Department of the same school, SIU, as Ojewuyi. Other speakers are: Nathan Kiwere, a publisher/filmmaker (Uganda), Dr, Ngozi Nwaneri, a global development policy expert (Nigeria), Lucille Huguet, a journalist (France), Veronique Maisier, language teacher/researcher (France) and Daves Guzha, a theatre artist and social activist from Zimbabwe.

TIMELESS MEMORIES: The WSICE Exhibition series

Aside the essay and the Advocacy conference, the project’s third programme item is the Exhibition, which was introduced three years ago. Now in its third instalment, ‘Timeless Memories,’ is an art initiative series created and curated by Oludamola Adebowale, to celebrate the legacy of Prof. Wole Soyinka and others adjudged the icons of the cultural sector.

“The idea of the ‘Timeless Memories’ project series is to project the legacy of Prof. Wole Soyinka and the amazing body of works he has created in new innovative mediums for this generation and the generation to come,” stated the curator, Adebowale.

“Drawing its title from the WSICE theme “I AM because YOU ARE”, the exhibition aims to reinforce the commitments of Soyinka to the cause of humanity; as well as the objective of the WSICE programme; aimed essentially at mentoring young minds for a better tomorrow.

“The Exhibition will feature new illustrative works, including excerpts from the November 2019 exhibition and also an e-Artbook that will be available for download for free on the WSICE website, and will run from July 13th 2020 to July1, 2021,” according to the curator.

About WSICE 2020:

The WSICE began in 2010 in Lagos with a three-day programme, when Soyinka was 76, and has run every year since then at its permanent home in Abeokuta, Ogun State, with satellite events in Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Rivers and other states. It has also been staged on London, Ghana and Barbados. Over 2000 students/youths and over 200 adult participants usually congregate every year at the project’s permanent venue in Ijegba Fore-Stage, a vast creative village located in the neighbourhood of Wole Soyinka’s residence in the Idi Aba Housing Estate Kemta Abeokuta. Featuring various items such as essay writing, advocacy conference, theatrical and poetry performances, mentorship/workshop and other self-expression events for the youths, the programme usually climaxes every July 14 –- (day after Soyinka’s birthday, July 13) — with a “Meet & Greet” event at which finalists in the essay competition are hosted first by the hosting governor of Ogun State, during which the winners are announced; and second to a mentoring session by the birthday celebrant, Wole Soyinka.

“This year, due to the pandemic, the entire three-day programme will hold in the virtual world, through the Zoom; we welcome all our guests to the New Normal of our Humanity,” remarked Lilian Amah, the renowned Tv and film actress, filmmaker, and producer of WSICE in its first five years, who is the consulting producer to the project.

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