The days’ long celebration of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s 80th birthday has kicked of in Nigeria (and around the world) at the University of Lagos with an International Conference. Themed “The Soyinka Impulse: Art, Humanity, Transitions and Performance”, Harvard Professor Biodun Jeyifo gave the keynote speech while renowned Soyinka scholar and literary “stalker” Professor James Gibbs talked at length about the staggering oeuvres–with special emphasis on his less well known radio plays dating back half a century ago–of the man also affectionately called “Kongi”.
The day ended with a special spoken word performance by Jamaican born Mutabaruka, American Jayvon Johnson and a host of their Nigerian counterparts, including Sage Hassan, Efe Paul Azino, Dagga Tola and Titilope Sonuga. Subjects treated were as diverse an they they were awesomely rendered: racism, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, a ‘black ‘Adam and his ‘White’ Eve; bleaching, poverty, leadership, justice, fashion, rape, money, politics, infidelity, child marriage, music and–yes, you guessed right–love.
On the sidelines of the Wole Soyinka celebrations, taking place in both Lagos and Abeokuta, the celebrant’s ancestral home, is a month-long exhibition in his honour. It’s hosted at the J.P Clarke Centre, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos. It is a room full of images of Wole Soyinka as created by various artistes using various media–from Acrylic to Clay to Pencil.
Report by Pelu Awofeso (@PeluAwofeso)