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Kongi @79 celebration ends in London

After the successful hosting of the Open Door Series Project WS79 in Lagos, Ogun and Osun where the 2013 project for the 79th birthday of the grand inspiration behind it, Prof. Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka aka WS, kicked off, the train moved to London.

The venue was the Africa Centre in Convent Garden, Central London, where about 200 guests, mostly children, teenagers, youths in their early 20s as well as a handful of adults gathered to witness the presence of the project on an international stage.

Billed for 3pm; the hall filled up by 2pm, with the ‘birthday boy’ and his wife, Folake, seated and receiving endless stream of young admirers. He was soon joined by a surprise guest, the wife of the Governor of Ogun State, Mrs Ibikunle Amosun resplendent in her beauty and charm.


The event took off with a ‘drum call’ parading three talking drummers, who thrilled with their deft manoeuvring of the drum strings. In the trail of the drum libation came successive entertainment shots including a solo contemporary dance by a teenager, Nathaniel; a wind duet on sax and trumpet featuring the Ogunjobi siblings; and another dance duet by choreographer, dancer, Stanley Amah and white female partner, among others.

The highpoint of the proceeding was the Youth Summit, which like the Nigeria version, had select youths speaking on the theme of the 2013 WS79 project, MEMOIRS FOR OUR FUTURE.

Shortly before the summit, Mrs. Amosun, as she did in Abeokuta a week earlier, mentored the gathering of young and old on the significance of education and cultural patriotism. She encouraged the young people to always dream quality dreams, especially about their future.

Before the audience, the young ones spoke about the future they envisaged; the tomorrow they desired; and the sort of progressive society they wished their parents — the adults, the political, economic and society leaders — would bequeath to them.

Through poetry, short story, extempore speeches, the young Africans in the Diaspora, asked, among others, for a society that cares for the well-being of its children; a nation that gives quality education, health and environment to its young ones; a society where religious and political tolerance thrives, a world where racial differences dissolve such that terrorism, extremism and violence are alienated; a universe where the young ones are given the opportunity to dream their dreams, realise their desires and are free to explore the depth of the many possibilities that their talents and acquired skills could push them.

Essentially, the young ones urged the adults to make the world a livable place for them. They demanded a qualitative living space that is untainted by religious and political strives and the varied, many factors that lead to abuse of the young ones and the mortgaging of the future; their tomorrow.

Impressed by the submission of the young summiteers, the South African High Commissioner, who was a special guest said his hope on the bright future of the continent was rekindled by the depth of thought by ‘the children of our continent’.

Professor Wole Soyinka speaking for the rest of the older folks, assured the young ones, that the adults have heard their yearning; and would work harder and conscientiously to ensure that the sanity of the world is preserved to ensure that the young ones grow into a society that is sane, and caring for the young.

Before the mentoring, Soyinka had formally presented the book, “That the Future May Live” — a collection of the winning essays in the past editions of the Open Door Series since 2010 when the programme was birthed as Project WS76 to mark the 76th birthday of the Nobel laureate.

The book also contained rare photographs of Soyinka in his younger age, as well as an introduction by him, and comments by some of the key operatives of the Project WS, is published by Bookcraft Ibadan for the Zmirage Multimedia.

In his presentation, Prof. Soyinka stressed on the importance of young people committing their thoughts and desires to permanent form in the form of publications. He encouraged them to always document their observations and experiences through writing as this would serve as part of their literary assets in the future. This, he said, was the way he started his own literary career.

The London wrap of the WS79 ended on a celebratory note with the young people giving WS a resounding applause for the goodness he did them by personally making an appearance at the event.


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