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WSICE2021: 17 young leaders from 4 continents feature in International Youth Assembly to mark Wole Soyinka’s 87th birthday.

For over a decade, the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, WSICE has been a global networking and empowerment platform for like-minded scholars and intellectuals both young and old.

This year, however, the WSICE in its 13th year, has refocused its agenda strictly on discovering and grooming young intellectuals and change makers from around the world, through its newly initiated International Youth Assembly, IYA.

The IYA forms the nucleus of the three-in-one programming contents for the 2021 edition of the project, holding July 13 and 14 in 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 individual area of discipline”, stated Teju Kareem, the Executive Producer of the project, who is also the CEO of ZMirage Multimedia Company.

Disclosing that the 2021 edition will, as is traditional to the project, mark the 87th birthday anniversary of the grand patron and inspiration behind the project, Prof Wole Soyinka, Kareem, said the theme, “That Our FUTURE may not DISAPPEAR” has been specially conceived to address the now widely spread incident of ‘disappearing humanity’ through acts of kidnapping, abductions, human ‘cancels’, social and cultural discriminations on the bases of colour, creed, faith, physio-mental features and others.”

According to the WSICE EP, for the IYA session, “17 youths from four continents “have been elected through a rigorous process to speak on the theme from their individual 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.”

Throwing light on the contents of the 2021 edition, the Producer, Aduke Aladekomo, said the programme is expected to feature over 5000 young people drawn from across four continents of the world.  She affirmed that the events will hold in hybrid format of virtual and live.

The three events lined up are:

  1. The International Youth Assembly, in which past winners of the yearly WSICE essay contests will be joined by contemporaries from other countries and cultures to “discuss the issue of disappearance of all forms and how it affects their future and the survival of the human family.”
  2. The Advocacy Session in which specially selected eminent cultural and educational leaders named “Advocates of Conscience” – who are renowned for having dedicated their time, life and careers to speaking for and working with young people, would share their experiences with participants in the youth assembly. 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 renowned choreographer, theatre maker and culture advocate, Segun Adefila and the humanitarian art maker, Seyi Oluyole. The advocacy has remained a flagship event of the yearly WSICE since its beginning in 2010. “It is another important platform that comes at a crucial time when the world is in need of critical thinking to seek out possibilities to the problems that even seem insurmountable,” stated Kareem.
  3. The Writerly Workshop session in which writers and members of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA (Ogun Chapter), will stage live mentoring sessions on the theme with students drawn from schools in various parts of Ogun State.

While the discourse and Advocacy sessions will hold on July 13 in the virtual space, the live event on the 14th will hold 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 who is the grand inspiration behind the project. This segment will have over 100 pupils and students of Ogun State having a mentoring session with members of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA (Ogun State Chapter).

To further consolidate on its international profile which it firmly established last year, the WSICE has renewed its partnership with the San Diego State University, SDSU in the United States, which will be the virtual host, and as well supplying some of the resource persons.

Moderators of IYA
VICTORY ASHAKA (Nigeria) – a multi-award-winning spoken word poet, artist, content creator, climate change activist and SDGs advocate.

ANJOLAOLUWA OLANREWAJU (Nigeria) – multi-talented creative, she is ambassador for Green Janitors, an initiative that focuses on keeping the environment clean and sustainable.

NB: The moderators – Victory Ashaka and Anjolaoluwa Olanrewaju – are alumni of the Vision of the Child, VoTC, the youth segment of the rested Lagos Black Heritage Festival, LBHF, which was inspired by Prof Soyinka, and coordinated by Foluke George.

Speaking in the conference are 15 young intellectuals painstakingly selected from across four contents. They are:

BOLUWADUROAKINYEMI (Nigeria) – An avid reader with varied interests, he is fascinated by science, emerging technologies and history.

DANIEL ONWUHA (Nigeria) – A focused and result oriented young man with an optimistic outlook towards life.

DIVINE JOSEPH (Nigeria) – An ambitious student was admitted to the YALE Young African Scholars (YYAS) program 2021.

EMILY SUH (USA) – In July 2020, she co-founded an organization that succeeded in donating over $5,000 to a variety of racial equality foundations.

IBRAHIM MAINAH (Nigeria) – In 2021, his book “Memoirs of a Dreamer” emerged as 2nd runner up for the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors.

LETA DANIEL (Uganda) – He loves writing to inspire, encourage, educate and communicate to others.

SAMSON AREWAH (Nigeria) – Actively volunteers with organizations providing free healthcare, education and other development services within Nigeria.

TAIWO AKINRINMISI (Nigeria) – A medical student with interest in Literary arts

IMANI EDWARD TAYLOR (Trinidad and Tobago) – A national table tennis athlete who has been representing her country since age 10.

FRANCESCA FOX (USA) – A storyteller with a background in video arts and social engagement, she will be pursuing her M.F.A. in Film and Media Art at Emerson College in fall of 2021.

OREOLUWA OJEWUYI (USA) – A passionate and dedicated journalist who has received awards for her investigative and opinion editorial reporting including Helping Heroes of Southern Illinois, Rookie of the Year, and Journalist of the Year awards.

MMESOMA ONWUBUYA (Nigeria) – The 1st runner-up of Beta malt senior school’s debate Delta State, Nigeria and a Modern European languages student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University.

KYLE PIERRE (Trinidad and Tobago) – was a senator of Queen Royal College’s student government for two years (Trinidad & Tobago).



Advocacy Session
The eminent resource persons will facilitate conscientious advocacy on the theme bothering on the future of humanity. The virtual session that will hold on July 13, aims to empower participants with the critical skills and opportunities to prepare and transform them as leaders with ability to  analyze ideas, engage challenges and create solutions.

MUTABARUKA (Jamiaca) – Born Allan Hope but better known as Mutabaruka, he is a Jamaican Rastafari dub poet, musician, actor, educator, and talk-show host, who developed two of Jamaica’s most popular radio programmes, The Cutting Edge and Steppin’ Razor. His name comes from the Rwandan language and translates as “one who is always victorious.” His themes include politics, culture, Black liberation, social oppression, discrimination, poverty, racism, sexism, and religion.

SEGUN ADEFILA (Nigeria) – Actor, dancer, choreographer, director, culture advocate and philosopher-artiste, he is the founder/artistic director, Crown Troupe of Africa, who deploys the instrumentality of the arts to advocate for social causes and better human family.

SEYI OLUYOLE (Nigeria) – an award-winning humanitarian creative director, screenwriter and choreographer, she is the founder of Dreamcatchers Academy, which uses dance, music and drama to provide educational opportunities for the less-privileged children.

RUSSELL LOW (Chinese/American) – Physician with a passion for discovery and storytelling, Russell, whose discoveries as a physician have influenced medical practice and disease control, frequently lectures on Chinese-American history, and uses storytelling to advance cause of humanity. His family’s story has been featured on the History Channel, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, the Voice of America, the California State Railroad Museum, and the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

RUBY AND ANTONIO – He devotes time and efforts helping her child wade through the difficult challenges of autism. Today, her 37 years old son, Antonio Luis Leong who was diagnosed with Autism at age 3 is the Founder President of Macau IC2 Association which was formed by a group of people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

JIAN WANG (China) – Born to a musical family in Beijing, China, cellist Jian Wang has appeared as soloist with such orchestras as the Pacific Symphony, the American Youth Symphony, the YMF Début Orchestra and the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra of China.  She performs frequently in recitals and as a chamber and orchestral musician. She has been performing for several months this season at Copley Symphony Hall at the invitation of the San Diego Symphony.

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