Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange > Meet the WSICE 2020 Speakers

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Speakers: ADVOCACY SESSION (Conference) - DAY 1 (July 12)


A professor in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Executive Director of Chinese Cultural Centre at San Diego State University, Dr. Cheng is the Managing Director of the Confucius Institute at SDSU. She served as a member of the board of trustees of the Campanile Foundation of San Diego State University. She is the past chair of the Multicultural Issues Board for the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) and served as chair of Education Committee for the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics (IALP). In the last two decades, she has given lectures in Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Laos, Kumpuchea, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong and Macao, India, Japan, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and is a frequent keynote speaker on the topic of speech, language pathology, culture, cross-cultural understanding, ASD and bilingual language learning/teaching. She is the recipient of the 1997 ASHA Award for special contributions to Multicultural Affairs and the recipient of the 2002 Diversity Award from the California Speech & Hearing Association. She is on the editorial board of several major professional journals. She has numerous professional publications and has lectured all over the world.


An educator specialising in the teaching of the Chinese national treasure, the Abacus, he is the President of Beijing Shenmo Education Group, which he founded in 1998, with headquarter in Beijing, China. Shenmo is guided by the following principles: equity, respect, trust, gratitude, care and encouragement. Shenmo’s mission is to improve the quality of life of millions of young people all over the world. Currently, Shenmo is one of the most influential education groups in China with schools in more than 110 countries and areas all over the world. Under the auspices of Shenmo, there are 70,000 teachers. Graduate of Peking University with a Master’s degree in business management, Michael Li also serves as an adjunct lecturer for the MBA program of the Guang Hua school of Management of Beijing University. He is a member of a number of societies focusing on entrepreneurship and charity.

BUNMI OYINSAN (PhD) – Nigeria-Canada

A highly experienced in the non-profit sector where she worked with women and young people in Nigeria. She coordinated, designed and executed various projects; and also wrote proposals and raised funding from international donors for major projects. Her work covered economic empowerment, capacity building, advocacy for women’s empowerment and reproductive rights. She also worked with women and youths who had suffered domestic violence by finding them safe havens, and providing support towards economic independence. She is a co-founder of Lekki Peninsula College and Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools which provide quality affordable education at the secondary, elementary and nursery levels in Nigeria. In addition to traditional models for her work in advocacy, she adopts innovative approaches that involve the engagement of popular culture and the arts, such as television, film and theatre to advocate for positive change by drawing attention to issues affecting the youth, gender, social justice and domestic abuse. She has published three novels – ‘Silhouette’​ (1991), ‘Halima’​ (2000) and ‘Three Women’​ (2006), one book for young people – ‘Fabulous Four’​ (2000), several short stories in anthologies and literary Journals, edited a collection of short stories for the Association of Nigerian Authors – ‘Trembling Leaves’​ (1998), written stage plays, radio plays, written and produced television dramas and serials including, ‘Owuro Lojo’​ (1995), ‘Golden Cage’​ (1996), ‘Aditulaye’​ (2003) and ‘We the People’​ (2002). She served as Chairperson of the Lagos State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors from 1994-1996. Since moving to Canada, she has directed for stage, produced and worked on the development of a television magazine titled ‘The Black Journal’ (2007), with the CBC in Halifax. She is on the board of TelAfric Inc which hold 6 CRTC broadcast licenses and uses traditional and New Media platforms to advocate for representational equity.


Holder of a BA in Philosophy (Fordham University); a MA in Hispanic Cultural Studies and Literatures (Columbia University), and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction (Arizona State University), he has taught at various public and private schools in New York City, at Fordham University (his Alma Mater), and at the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies (University of Pennsylvania). He is currently pursuing two lines of research. The first examines 21st century innovations in (bilingual) teacher education theory, curriculum and pedagogies devised for preparing P-12 teachers capable of meeting the educational needs of minoritized linguistically diverse students attending mainstream or bilingual/dual language school contexts. The second employs contemporary social theory and discourse analytic methods to understand the logics of “ideology critique” in advocacy and critical discourses of education emerging as resistance to neoliberal, hyper-capitalist, and post-truth dynamics. He is the recipient of the 2016 Early Career Reviewer Award of the Bilingual Research Journal (National Association of Bilingual Education) and currently serves as Assistant Editor of the Journal of Global Education and Research.


A Cultural Leader with extensive experience in carnival, event management and production, working over three decades in Canada, Trinidad, Britain and Africa. As a strategic thinker Shabaka is currently an Executive Director with Zmirage UK and a founder and creative producer with De CORE UK Ltd. As the Director of London’s leading African combine arts centre, the Yaa Asantewaa Arts and Community Centre, Shabaka initiated and realised a major capital building project call the Carnival Village that now contributes to the development and sustenance of African art, especially Carnival Arts and all its related industries of which he was the initial Chief Executive (2007 – 2012). He was also instrumental in initiating the one and only London Calypso Tent in partnership with the Association of British Calypsonians in 1992 and has been the CEO of London Notting Hill Carnival (2005), and Co-ordinator of the Hackney One Carnival (2013) For the past decade, Shabaka has worked extensively throughout Africa promoting Carnival Arts within the continent. As Executive Director of Zmirage UK, he has worked alongside the parent company in Nigeria on various projects including hosting the River State Tourism Development Agency at the Notting Hill Carnival (2013 – 2015) and participating in the State’s Carnival, Carniriv. He is the UK co-ordinator for the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) programme; Production Assistant for the Musical SARO; Administrative Producer for Mama Africa in South Africa, and provided strategic support in line with Capacity Development and technical advice to the company. In partnership with De CORE, Shabaka was instrumental for De CORE’s engagement in Carnival Calabar, working with the multiple award winning band Masta Blasta over a five year period (2012-2017). As a founding member of and actor with the award winning Theatre in Education company, CETTIE, Shabaka has performed extensively with the company especially in schools and colleges across Britain.

LEOLYN JACKSON, PhD (South Africa)

He has been in the higher education sector for more than 30 years as a Senior Lecturer, Head of Student Enrolment and Director of the Southern African-Nordic Centre (SANORD).  He was also the Director of the International Relations Office (IRO) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Leolyn served as a member of the UWC Executive Management Committee, a Senator, and chaired the Senate International Relations Committee. During his tenure he also helped facilitated the successful run of the musical “Mama Africa: The Musical” as one of the Executive Producers. He is currently employed as the Director: Centre for Global Engagement at the Central University of technology, Free State and is a Senator, a Senate Executive member, and a member of Senate sub-committees (University Internationalisation Committee, University Teaching & Learning Committee). In addition, his office also manages various EU and other Global Funding Agency projects. He serves on the national Directors Forum of the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) and is the Immediate Past President of IEASA (2017-2018). Leolyn is also a member of various global networks and organisations such as the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), the African Network for Internationalisation of Education (ANIE), the Asia Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE), the European Association for International Education (EAIE), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. His research interest focuses also on Comprehensive Internationalisation of Higher Education.

Speakers: ADVOCACY SESSION (Symposium) - DAY 2 (July 13)


A native of East St. Louis, is a professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he has taught since 1997. An ordained Roman Catholic priest, he has degrees from St. Louis University (BA); Johns Hopkins University (MA); and Yale University (MA, PhD). His research interests are in literature, religion, aesthetics and cultural history. Some of his writings include, A Retreat with Thea Bowman and Bede Abram: Leaning on the Lord; To Stand on the Rock: Meditations on Black Catholic Identity; Sweet, Sweet Spirit: Prayer Services in the Black Catholic Tradition (with the assistance of Bishop Fernand J. Cheri, III, OFM/2006); and The Sun Whispers, Wait: New and Collected Poems (2009). Since 2014, he has served as the Chair of the East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission & Cultural Initiative. He also publishes the blog, “The Sankofa Muse.” http://sankofamuse.blogspot.com/


A journalist who works for a French public TV channel: Franceinfo, she did a Master Degree at the University of Caen, in English Literature and, a Master of Journalism in the France’s oldest school of Journalism ESJ Paris. She was part of the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange in 2014.

DAVES GUZHA (Zimbabwe)

Actor, director, producer, administrator and social justice activist, Guzha in addition to directing and producing numerous plays, films and TV series, has starred in over 20 plays and 15 films. Founding artistic Director of Rooftop Promotions based in Harare, Guzha, in a career spanning over 35 years, has created unique theatrical styles that incorporate elements of activism, civic education and dialogue. This style often culminates in a dialogue-based event, designed to address political and social justice issues with indirect name and shame strategies. He constantly endures censorship, arrest and intimidation from the nationalist regime due to his anti-establishment stand. He served as the Regional Coordinating Director and board member of the Artists Trust of Southern Africa (ARTSA) from 2009 to 2011; and in 2018, was appointed Chairman of the Pan-African Cultural Congress Bureau 5, a unit of the African Union. He also sits on the board of the African Culture Fund as a member.


With master’s degree in Public Policy (The George Washington University, Washington D.C.) and a Ph.D. in Social and Political Philosophy (Loyola university Chicago), Ndidi is a public policy, social and international development consultant. She is on the executive board of International Development Ethics Association (IDEA); has worked and studied in the Americas, Europe and Africa. She has conducted research and taught courses in public policy, ethics, philosophy, international development as well as business and military ethics at the university level. Her current research interest includes the relationship between global existential threats (for instance, pandemics), global justice and equity. “Whether at the individual, social or global level, I consider all forms of injustice as crises that should be addressed urgently. I also believe that the greatest tool persons have to combat injustice is their ability to think.” (excerpted from www.ndidi.com).


She teaches French language, conversation and phonetics, as well as French and Francophone literatures and cultures at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Her teaching also includes courses on French literature in translation, such as Masterpieces of French Literature, and Women in French and Francophone Literatures. Earning her PhD in 20th century French Literature from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France; Dr. Maisier’s research interests, of late, have focused on Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean literatures, and more specifically on the presence of violence in Caribbean narratives. She has published book chapters and articles on Caribbean literature, and on the French Caribbean authors Gisèle Pineau and Patrick Chamoiseau in Nouvelles Études Francophones, Journal of West Indian Literature, and French Literature Studies. Her monograph Violence in Caribbean Literature: Stories of Stones and Blood was published in 2015 in the Lexington Books’ series After the Empire: the Francophone World and Postcolonial France.



With a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial and Fine Arts (2002, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda), he studied film festival and event management at the Deutshe Welle Akademie in Berlin and later enrolled for film production at the One Fine Day Film Workshop in Nairobi. He has been fascinated with blending visual arts and audiovisual media over the years. His interests range from documentary films to features and he has a series of international co-productions in development. He worked as programme manager and later a director of Amakula Kampala International Film Festival, Uganda’s oldest and premier social event until 2012. He wrote and directed his first short film, Missing in Berlin (2013), shot mainly in the Berlin metro and the snow-laden boulevards. Nathan is a founding director of Sword Entertainment Inc./Coronation Pictures, a content development and distribution company based in Kampala, Uganda.

(WSICE Co-Executive Producer)


Head of Directing and Chair of the Department of Theater at Southern Illinois University, Professional Ojewuyi’s international career as a Theater director/Critic/Actor and Scholar has covered parts of Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, America and the Mediterranean. His directing credits include the major playwrights of world drama – Shakespeare, Soyinka, Becket, Wilson, Miller, Brecht, Grass, Chekov, Ibsen, Fugard to list a few. His productions have been on stage in some of the very top Theaters of the world – the Birmingham Rep, Liverpool Playhouse, Everyman Theater Liverpool, Yale Repertory Theater, Public Theater Pittsburgh, Balhaus Theater in Berlin, the Oregon Shakespeare, St. Louis Black Rep., Habima Theater in Tel Aviv and the National Theater in Lagos, Nigeria, directing the National Troupe of Nigeria, amongst many others, garnering strong international reviews. He has taught at Yale, the University of Lagos, Nigeria and Rowan University, New Jersey. He spent a semester as a Distinguished Visiting Artist at Kwara State University and Visiting Professor at Nassarawa State University both in Nigeria. He was the invited Keynote Speaker for the second annual National lecture of the Nigerian National institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in 2011. In 2008 he convened the International Symposium – Muse and Mimesis: Wole Soyinka, Africa and the World, featuring the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka as keynote Speaker. In 2010 he led an International Cultural Exchange and Theatrical Tour “Preemptive/Seven” – to the U.K., Barbados and Nigeria, beginning the “Wole Soyinka International cultural Exchange, in celebration of the humanist ideals and artistry of Wole Soyinka. Ojewuyi is a “Fellow of Theater Arts” of the National Association of Nigerian Theater Arts Practitioners – the highest professional honor in Nigerian Theater. He is the winner of the 2007 Pittsburgh’s Onyx Best Theater Director award by the African American Academy for the Arts. He was the recipient of the British Council Commonwealth Fellowship, a Ford Foundation/Arts International Professional Development grant, the Horowitz Foundation Fellowship award, the Rowan University Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Recognition Award – 2000 and 2001. He is an Alumnus Fellow of the Salzburg Seminar, Salzburg Austria and grantee of the United States International Visitor’s Program, awarded by the United States Information Service. He is a member of the College of Liberal Arts Assessment Team, President of the College of Liberal Arts Council, served two terms as the Chair of the University Fine Arts Activity fees and was President of the Faculty Senate 2019/2020. Ojewuyi is a graduate of Theater (Theater Arts Theory and Criticism) from the University of Ibadan Nigeria and the Yale University School of Drama.


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