At the core of the Ife Festival of Food & Identity was the birth and formal dedication of the Wole Soyinka Museum.In honour of the laureate, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University through its vice chancellor, Prof. Ogunbodede, had decided to convert Soyinka’s former abode — while a teacher at the university — to The Wole Soyinka Museum, which was formally declared open on Monday July 30.
The conversion and remodelling of Soyinka’s former abode to The Soyinka Museum was made possible by the Amosun government to firmly establish the link between cultural education, agriculture and identity as enunciated in the five cardinal agenda of the Ogun government under Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
At the opening the Vice Chancellor, Ogunbodede said: “The aim of the Museum is to crown the legacy of our culture in OAU by showcasing and preserving the cultural and artistic taste that nurtured one of the greatest intellectuals of the 21st century who brought additional fame, honour and academic integrity to Africa and specifically, to Nigeria, and we daresay, to this University, as the very first African Nobel Laureate of Literature to have emerged from among us.”
The museum presently houses an exhibition of over 100 priceless antiquities, representing only a section of the collections of Soyinka over the decades — loaned from the Wole Soyinka Foundation, WSF, headquartered at the A.R.I residence of the laureate in the Ijegba forest sanctuary in Idi Aba Housing Estate, Kemta Abeokuta. Another section of the collections, curated by Professor Awam Amkpa of New York University, has been travelling major museums around the world, the latest being at the Coopers Gallery in Harvard; Natural Mueum in Port au Prince, Haiti courtesy Laboratorio Art Centre, and lately as part of the global-touring Biennale, Manifesta in Palermo Sicily, Italy, courtesy the New York University in Florence Italy.
Among other eminent people who have visited the exhibition since it opened is the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, who visited on August 1, with over 50 people in his entourage.