By Adamu Usman Garko
The Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) Program is an open door series’ project designed purposely for giving voice to literature, arts and culture. It’s through efforts like this that human beings reaffirm their honour as the greatest of all animals.
The WSICE first began in 2010, targeting youths as the future upholders of humanity. In Teju Kareem’s words, the project aims at combating fear, socio-cultural and religious intolerance amongst humanity and fosters a sense of unity, tolerance of diversity and subsequent embrace of and respect for each other’s differences.
The program is a four-day event that focuses on the celebration of Nigeria’s only Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka’s birthday, every year since it’s premiere on 13th July 2010. The event draws youths from all the nooks and crannies of the country.
According to Haneefat Ikharo, the producer of the program, the scheme targets young persons (of secondary school age) because at that age, their minds are still open to receiving and processing changes and they are also curious enough to explore and accept the unique nature of mankind.
The four-day program features essay and spelling bee competitions among the youths, interactive creative workshop where they are thoroughly engaged and mentored, intellectual discussions on current and timely issues bedeviling our country, short drama sketches, dance drama and music, visitation by a governor and Professor Wole Soyinka, and many more.
It is apparent that WSICE’s previous editions had changed the lives of many youths. Being visited by the Nobel Laureate himself and seeing him in person alone was a dream fulfilled to all the youths. Changing the mindsets of people is the greatest change aspired, in the dimension of WSICE.
It has solely changed many youth’s mindsets ranging from hyperactivity and intolerance on their differences to embracing and tolerating each other’s difference as a flair made choice.
In my Travelogue Experience on 2018 WSICE, I understood how delightful he (Soyinka) was, making us all very excited. I captured my experience of visiting Soyinka’s home thus:
“The journey started like a daydream, but we held onto the belief that if Wole Soyinka was a robot we were going to see him today, if his hair was truly not cotton to our knowing ,we were going to see them. It was a time for us to jubilate and forget the nightmares of dream, and see the bushy comely haired African poet. It was scary when we headed to an open way into a gloomy forest.”
Like all other youths’ delightful experience, I was able to paint with words, a picture that might had fairly depicted the colourful event of the WSICE and the visit to the “Oracle”.
Certainly, the WSICE is a promising, educative and informative avenue that captures Professor Soyinka’s remarkable insights and talents as a colossal literal icon.
Adamu Usman Garko, an SS2 student of Gombe high school, in Gombe state, is a poet and story writer. His work has previously appeared in Blueprint newspaper, The Arts-muse Fair, poetry planet and Praxis magazine online. A finalist for the 2018 International Cultural Exchange for Wole Soyinka, (WSICE), Garko was the Artist of the Month “September” 2018, of Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation.
The young poet can be reached through Facebook; Adamu Usman Garko, Twitter; Garkoadamu1, or Gmail; firstname.lastname@example.org