17 young leaders for International Youth Assembly marking Soyinka’s 87th birthday

by Araayo Akande

The 2021 Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE), happening on July 13 and 14, would focus on discovering and grooming young intellectuals and change-makers globally through its newly initiated International Youth Assembly (IYA).

Past editions of the 13-year-old programme held annually to mark the birthday of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, focused on being a global networking and empowerment platform for scholars and intellectuals.

But as a result of the modification, the IYA, according to the organisers, will form the nucleus of this year’s three-in-one programming in a hybrid format – virtual space and live.

“Through the IYA, we intend for young people from diverse parts and cultures of the world to connect, engage and learn from one another as well as receive mentoring from eminent resource persons, who are themselves leaders in their area of discipline”, stated Teju Kareem, the Executive Producer of the project.

He added that the theme, “‘That Our FUTURE may not DISAPPEAR’ was  specially conceived to address the now widely spread incident of ‘disappearing humanity’ through acts of kidnapping, abductions, human ‘cancels’, social and cultural discriminations based on colour, creed, faith, physio-mental features and others.”

Kareem disclosed that for the IYA session, 17 youths from four continents “had been elected through a rigorous process to speak on the theme from their perspectives, and they will also be mentored by thought leaders whom we have tagged, ‘Advocates of conscience’, who will also explore the theme to help the young ones frame their thoughts about the future of our collective humanity.”

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The selected youth include Boluwaduro Akinyemi,  Daniel Onwuha, Divine Joseph, Emily Suh, Ibrahim Leta Daniel, Samson Arewah, Taiwo Akinrinmisi, Imani Edward-Taylor and Francesca Fox. Others are Oreoluwa Ojewuyi, Mmesoma Onwubuya, Kyle Pierre, Mayra Mileidy Pedraza Fernandez and Pedro Hermenegildo Goncalves Capita. The two moderators of the IYA, Victory Ashaka and Anjolaoluwa Olanrewaju, are also youth.

Highlighting the contents of the 2021 edition, the producer, Aduke Aladekomo, said the programme would feature over 5000 young people from four continents.

She explained that the Advocacy Session happening virtually on July 13 would feature specially selected eminent cultural and educational leaders named “Advocates of Conscience” – who are renowned for dedicating their time, life and careers to speaking for and working with young people. They would share their experiences with participants in the youth assembly. 

Those featuring in the segment are the renowned Caribbean performance poet-philosopher-activist, Mutabaruka, the American physician-storyteller, Dr Russell Low, and the Chinese-American classic musician, Jian Wang; the famous choreographer, theatre-maker and culture advocate, Segun Adefila and the humanitarian art maker, Seyi Oluyole.

The last component, the writers’ workshop on July 14, will hold live at the Ijegba Theatre Resort located in the heart of the Autonomous Republic of Ijegba, A.R.I – the thickly forested residence of the Nobel laureate. Writers and members of the Ogun State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors will mentor over 100 students from schools in the state on the event’s theme.

The organisers further disclosed that to consolidate its international profile firmly established last year, the WSICE has renewed its partnership with the San Diego State University, US. It’s the virtual host and would supply some of the resource persons.

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