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Wole Soyinka: Delectable evening with the man of letters

…As Glo launches Literature prize for undergraduates


It wasn’t just an Evening with Wole Soyinka. It was a delectable evening, one that assembled heavy weights in the literary and entertainment industries, the academics and other eminent Nigerians as well as Brazilians who came to celebrate with the Noble Laureate.


The occasion was indeed, an evening painted with 3Gs; glo, glitz and glamour, an activity-packed evening, held by telecommunication giant, Globacom, at the Eko Hotels and Suites, to celebrate the man of letters, Wole Soyinka. The event also featured award-winning writers- Sefi Atta, 2013 Caine Prize winner, Tope Folarin and 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing, E C Osundu; and unveiling of yet another literature Prize in Nigeria, “Glo Literature Prize For Undergraduate Students”.

The evening came alive with a thrilling performance of Wole Soynka’s Play, Alapata, which was performed by Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP) Productions. The Wole Soyinka Documentary followed suite. It featured interactions with the Kongi’s Harvest himself during which he shared more about his personality and interests. Apart from literature and his being a guitarist, unknown to many, Soyinka is a hunter and finds so much fulfillment in hunting.

Speakers in the likes of Jimi Solanke, Dr Promise Ogochukwu, Mrs Francesca Emanuel, Mr Odia Ofeimun, Prof. Femi Osofisan etc, all extolled the virtues of the literary icon. He was described as a monument, maverick, legend, icon, humanity, relentless, multifaceted and on and on, they showered accolades on the noble laureate for his attitude to life through writing.

Globacom Chairman, Dr Mike Adenuga Jr. (GCON), in his goodwill message, described Prof Soyinka as an uncommon patriot, a man of many parts and intrepid spirit, an intellectual deity, sedulous writer and a raconteur par excellence whose works have for decades, remained study materials the world over.

The evening also featured Guest writers’ perspective on the celebrator during which he fielded questions from the three award winning writers, on issues revolving around literature in Africa. Prof Soyinka used the opportunity to decry the level of deterioration of the education sector, saying that “The entire world of education in the country is in trouble. There is nothing worse than churning out illiteracy. A state of emergency must be declared on education and there should be a national conference on education.”

Asked if he ever felt a burden of representation as a writer, Soyinka stated that “I don’t have ambassadorial temperament when I write. I accept my own responsibility; I carry my own burden myself. Writing directed at other things was just as good and compelling enough reason to write stressing that of great importance is the ability to connect reality and imagination so as to help enlarge the human horizon to its infinite capacities and possibilities.”

Award-winning female writer, Atta also tasked him on feminism and wondered if he is a feminist. Soyinka said “Feminism is described in so many ways. There are those who believe men should be castrated, others say a sign of true feminism is not to wear bra while others think of it as intellectual mentoring. Let’s not interfere on what adults are. I believe in humanity. I’m confused about machismo and feminism; you should be yourself!”

I’m talking about the mindless, extreme fundamentalists who think only they have the right to existence. The intolerance of the extreme group is appalling”.

At the end of the interactive session, the trio read excerpts from their favourite books by Wole Soyinka. Tope Folarin read from “You Must Set Forth at Dawn, Sefi Atta read from AKE: Years of Childhood while E C Osondu, handled “The Man Died”.

While unveiling the Glo Literature Prize For Undergraduate Students, Mr Ebenezer Kolawole, Gloworld Coordinator said that, “Globacom has instituted the special Prize in Literature for students in Nigerian universities across the country as part of the company’s holistic appreciation of the importance of literature in the society” adding that “The award was intended to promote the study of literature and engender keen competition in the subject in tertiary institutions in the country. It provides added fillip to the education establishment and Nigerian students, particularly in the field of literature and the creative industry.”

He hinted that Glo Literature Prize For Undergraduate Students is an annual competition open to all students of Nigerian universities, both public and private. The first edition of the award comes up in 2016. Entries will be accepted for unpublished manuscripts and must be original scripts. Winners will receive prizes in the following categories: Prose, Drama and poetry and each winner gets 1,500,000.

Professors Femi Osofisan, Akachi Ezeigbo, Umar-Buratai and Olu Obafemi make up the panel of judges while Dr Promise Ogochukwu serves as the secretary of the panel.

The Glo Boss also noted that Globacom was impressed with the accomplishments of the three writers which was the reason they were celebrated alongside the nobel laureate, describing them as good ambassadors of Nigeria who have shown great inclination for fecundity.”
Tunji Oyelana took the audience back to good old days with performances of ‘I caught you in my trap’ and Soyinka’s recorded music ‘I love my country I no go lie’. Young Footprints of David, D’Banj and Bez also entertained .


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