The University of Ibadan, UI, on Tuesday 31 July 2018, at the 2nd Geoffery Axworthy Lecture renamed its 63 year old Unibadan Arts Theatre after the Nigerian born literary icon and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
The aged arts theatre will now be known as “Wole Soyinka Theatre”.
The programme was almost marred when the guest lecturer, Professor Ahmed Yerima slumped while delivering his paper. He was revived and later rushed to the institution’s health centre in an ambulance. However, the master of ceremony, Longley Evru, who promptly noted, “the show must continue”, helped the lecturer to read the concluding part of the paper.
In attendance were the alumni and prominent products of the Department of Theatre Arts, Professors, J. P. Clark, Femi Osofisan,Dan Izevbaye , the institution’s principal officers including Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Kayode Adebowale, DVC (academic), Prof. Adeyinka Aderinto, the Registrar, Mrs. Olubunmi Faluyi, the university Librarian, Dr. Helen Olubukunola Komolafe Opadeji and others.
Soyinka, who was presented a bottle of wine by the organizers, appreciated the honour bestowed on him by the institution.
In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka stated that the institution has made it a culture to honour the university’s heroes and icons not only for the great work they have done to the university in the past but for giving the institution global recognition.
According to him, Soyinka deserves every honour the institution could bestow on him giving his contribution to the institution, Nigeria and the world at large.
In the same direction, the Head, Theatre Arts Department, Prof. Matthew Umukoro who noted that Soyinka is a global icon for scholarship and creativity pointed out that re-naming the Arts building after the literary icon was a befitting honor to the one that has brought so much honour to the university.
He said, “Our vision has been to see the Arts Theatre transform into Wole Soyinka Theatre, expanded and modernised to meet the technical and technological challenges of the twenty-first century. We intend to take the dream further by launching a Wole Soyinka Theatre Endowment Fund to raise the capital required for actualising our goal. We are also happy that Geoffrey Axworthy, the literary mentor of Wole Soyinka is also being doubly honoured with the renaming of the Practical Theatre as Geoffrey Axworthy Studio”.
In his paper titled, “Geoffrey Axworthy and the Modern Nigerian Theatre”, Yerima who practically eulogized Axworthy all through noted that Axworthy met a fledging Nigeria with a lot of young artistically creative and brilliant minds. He said that Axworthy was impressed with the rich cultural history and the evident cultural diversity of the country’s major tribes, adding, “Coming from a similar British culture of magical stories and wonderful world of communal theatre, Axworthy knew that a proper blend and exploration of the cultural content of performances would make theatre emotionally moving and thematically satisfying and relevant to the growing Nigerian nation. He acknowledged the existence of early performative activities, communal theatre activities, and sought ways to find a synergy, which would enable the town to benefit from the gown, without each one losing its original essence”.
According to him, Axworthy was also aware of the early efforts of young creative minds such as J.P Clark, Christopher Okigbo and the Mbari efforts at the time stressing that Axworthy did not meet a creatively dormant Nigeria.