By Anote Ajeluorou
With 77 bright students set to emerge for the grand finale of the Zmirage International Contest, the stage is set for them to also meet Africa’s first Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka in Abeokuta, his home town as part of this year’s International Cultural Exchange second play season
As activities rev up for the second edition of Zmirage’s International Cultural Exchange code named WS7728086 starting next month to coincide with the 77th birthday of literary and theatre icon, Prof. Wole Soyinka, the 77 youngsters that will emerge from the children’s International Essay Contest will have audience with him. The meeting will culminate the activities of the students that are being drawn from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Confirming this development recently was the Production Manager and Nollywood star actor and producer Mrs. Lilian Amah Aluko, who said, “I can confirm now that Prof. Wole Soyinka has consented to meet the 77 students who would write the final essay. He will receive them at his abode in Abeokuta on Thursday, July 14, 2011”. However, principal play for this year season is The Waiting Room, which will be performed at Terra Kulture on July 17.
Amah Aluko also confirmed that the children would be treated to a play performance on the same day after meeting and interacting with Soyinka. Apparently, Zmirage, organisers of the International Cultural Exchange using theatre as vehicle, is seizing on Soyinka’s love for children as the only hope for a regenerative Nigeria as springboard for the coming interaction. The students will be treated to Bode Sowande’s Ajantala Pinocchio on that day.
Another play slated for the WS7728086 is excerpts from Kongi's Harvest by Wole Soyinka. This particular excerpt was successfully staged at the just concluded inauguration of His Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun State. The elite cast confirmed to the Executive Producer of WS7728086, Alhaji Teju Kareem, that they would be performing the same play in honour of Soyinka to mark his birthday on July 13.
Cast members include Kunle Bamtefa as Oba Danlola, Jimi Solake as Sarunmi, Taiwo Obileye as Suprintendent, and Teni Aofiyebi as Wuraola. Ayo Oluwasanmi, who would also be directing it for Soyinka’s birthday, directed the play. These main acts will also perform Dance of Liberation at the Theatre Tabernacle in London on July 1 & 2.
Other plays scheduled to be performed during the International Cultural Exchange programme include Recee and Etike Revo Wetin? and directed by DR. Tunde Awosanmi.
Also, Zmirage’s novel red carpet reception featuring 77 theatre artists of repute will part read and part perform excerpts from some of Soyinka’s plays in honour of the man, whose plays have had a defining influence on Nigerian theatre right from the early 60s when he appeared on the scene. This was especially so when he performed The Swamp Dwellers as part of 1960 Independence celebration.
On the children’s International Essay competition with title “I Love my Country, Nigeria”, Amah Aluko said finalists have started emerging from the states. So far, she said Aaliyah Ovayoza Ibrahim of Zamani College, Kaduna, Aliyu Aminu of Blue Crescent Schools, Sokoto and Osunniyi Segun Emmanuel of St. Augustine College, Kabba have been confirmed winners from their states. Other winners include Aminat Kadiri of Edidot College, Lagos and Oladipo Faith Taiwo of Fakunle Comprehensive high school, Oshogbo.
Others are Fasanya Oluwaseun of Graceland International School, Portharcourt, Faje Elijah Kashope of Harmony Secondary school, Lokoja, Ajayi Mosinmileoluwa of Queens School, Ibadan, Brenda Michael Asotibe of Concordia College, Yola, Samuel Precious of Aunty Ayo Girls Comprehensive and Adebisi Oluwatobiloba of Lead City High School, Ibadan.
Already, these bright youngsters are guaranteed of a meeting with Prof. Soyinka on July 14 as they have already won their places among the 77 elite students expected in Lagos for the grand finale of the essay competition. The remaining finalists are expected to emerge this month.
Meanwhile some companies with a high sense of corporate social responsibility, especially towards children, are beginning to also identifying with Zmirage and making available gifts for the essay competition. Ben TV, London, is the exclusive TV broadcast partner for the event in London while the Voice newspaper has also signed on as a partner.
To follow progress of all events relating to the Zmirage International Cultural Exchange play season 2 code-named WS7728086, readers should link up to www.opendoorseries.com.