9-day cultural extravaganza for Wole Soyinka @ 90

The Africa Centre, in collaboration with the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE), Nigeria, is thrilled to announce a nine-day festival honouring Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s 90th birthday. 

The celebration will take place from July 19 to 27, transforming The Africa Centre into a hub of vibrant cultural activities, highlighting Soyinka’s extensive contributions to literature, culture and human rights advocacy.

Professor Wole Soyinka, the first African Nobel laureate in Literature (1986), will be celebrated through a series of exhibitions, roundtables, film screenings, live music performances and poetry recitals. The highlight of the event will be ‘WS: A Life in Full,’ a comprehensive exhibition showcasing Soyinka’s published works and photographs from his personal archive. Visitors will also enjoy ‘NINE Seasons of KONGI,’ a collection of paintings by young artists mentored by Soyinka, and the Africa I-D-E-N-T-I-T-Y showcase, which features public readings of his poems across nine European cities.

Another key feature is the ORI Series II (For WS), a collection of conceptual watercolour drawings by UK-based artist Abolore Shobayo, and a rare presentation of Soyinka’s passion for Onicha Market literature. The event will also include the London premiere of “The Man Died,” a feature film inspired by Soyinka’s prison memoirs. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the director, Awam Amkpa, producer Femi Odugbemi, and members of the cast and crew. Additionally, “Ebrohimie Road,” a documentary about Soyinka’s former residence at the University of Ibadan, will also premiere. The film features interviews with his family and associates and will include a discussion with director Kola Tubosun.

The festival will feature daily screenings of films and documentaries related to Soyinka’s life and work. Evening entertainment, dubbed “Kongi’s Nights,” will include live music performances by artists such as Ed Keazor & the AfroFunk Collective, Juwon Ogungbe, Lekan Babalola, and many more. Poetry recitals and wine-tasting sessions will add to the lively atmosphere. 

A series of talks, seminars, and workshops will delve into various topics, including ‘Navigating the New Publishing Industry,’ ‘The Impact of AI on Culture & Identity,’ and ‘Culture Sponsorship & Corporate Social Responsibility.’ A symposium on ‘The Future Is Now – A Decolonisation Intersection,’ hosted by Bournemouth University, and a virtual unveiling of Soyinka’s portrait at the University of Sheffield by Utopia Theatre, are also on the schedule.

The festival will also feature “Ijo-mode,” a dance workshop for youths led by Peter Badejo, OBE, and the awarding of prizes for an essay competition on ‘AI & New Media: Reimagining Culture, Identity & Humanity,’ organised in partnership with TURAKA Art Centre, Chatham.

Olu Alake, CEO of The Africa Centre, expressed his excitement about the dual celebration of The Africa Centre’s 60th anniversary and Soyinka’s 90th birthday. He stated, “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.”

Dr. Teju Kareem, Executive Producer of WSICE, highlighted Soyinka’s lifelong dedication to societal betterment, stating, “Prof. Soyinka has consistently pursued the betterment of society through his support for freedom and the common good of all. His career spanning academia, literature, and activism exemplifies a profound commitment to creating a just and equitable world, encapsulating the essence of E.N.I.O.G.U.N as both a personal and a universal pursuit.”

This grand celebration promises to be a fitting tribute to a literary giant whose work continues to inspire and influence generations across the globe.

Full event details below and at The Africa Centre’s website and WSICE website


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