Inside Wole Soyinka's Forest and other fun events

So I had the privilege to be one of the 70 spoken word artists/poets to perform at the WS80 project, Wole Soyinka's 80th birthday celebration, which took place at Lagos and Abeokuta between July 11 and 18, 2014. It was a real fun and eye-opening event, which culminated in some real sturves that looked like a scene from an Abija Awara movie, lol.

I did not really take pictures of the Day 1, which took place in Lagos, as I was too busy thinking of my performance. We moved to Abeokuta two days later, and enjoy the pictures below. And yea Wole Soyinka really lives in a forest, probably for spiritual inspiration from the heavenlies. Ijegba forest, to be exact. And no, you cannot go and visit him there. You will soon find out why, from one of the pictures below.

Day 2
I'm small. I know. No need to rub it in, lol


Wole Soyinka's birthday cake

Professor Niyi Osundare

Important people cutting the cake... where is the celebrant?
 Day 3
Famzing with Muta Baruka, a world-renowned legendary poet

Kuto cultural centre, Abeokuta where most of
the events took place


As we got to the movie reception, the first thing that greeted us were the faces of many important people in Nigeria, actors, actresses, corporate bodies, etc, (excluding politicians. I don't think they like Wole Soyinka or vice versa, lol). Unfortunately, I was too shy to go around and ask for pictures. The only drink was palmwine, which you had to drink with calabash. Even water was absent. And the snacks were kokoro and Adun, made with Epo pupa. It was at this point we knew we were in for some serious different stuff,


See this traditional centre mat



Yemi Sodimu: If you are one of those Nigerians who
wear Oleku, and you don't know this man, please
return our cloth to Tunde Kelani,

Do you remember the man on the right from
 all the Mount Zion movies you watch

And this picture below was the first message that greeted us at Wole Soyinka's forest residence.


Of course, since we are not trespassers, we all snapped pictures, and proceeded with confidence. And then...


Efun Worshippers started greeting us, and kneeling down for us. A lot of people were scared, saying "Hee, what is this?" lol. I even heard there was a lady around me speaking in tongues. As for me, I wasn't scared. Since I understand yoruba, I know there were just saying "You will live long, you will not die young, you will grow old..." basically traditional greetings they pass on to people who come to celebrate with the old. I was greeting the back with my simple "Ekale ma."





The below picture looks like I was transported into a scene of a babalawo shrine in a 1985 yoruba movie on NTA channel 7, lol.




Traditional lanterns. Forgotten what they are called.
We finally got to where we were to be seated, after walking through the forest for a while. The stage theatre was set up right in the middle of the forest. It was built my Zmirage. You would know that millions went down in setting up the whole drama. Colourful stage, colourful costume, excellent actors. Who said gret things don't happen in Nigeria.

I kid you not, Wole Soyinka was seated two rows behind me, watching his own drama, but you don't need the Holy Spirit to tell you not to approach him in such a setting, so I just pretended to be gentle, and not even allow the thought cross my mind.

Enjoy pictures of the stage drama, Dance of the Forest, written by Wole Soyinka at the age of 26 (@ilola, see your life). I wonder how he felt watching the drama. The drama was staged in the forest, as you know by now, and ran for about three hours








The actors ran away when the car drove in.
Don't be scared, it was part of the act

Can you see the tree spirit? lol



I tried to get a shot of the whole cast. They
were 203 renowned stage actors


Fireworks after the event was over




Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.
The only politician who would not be eaten up in the forest

The governor and the people that put the drama together


We all got this gift bag by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism when we were about to leave the hotel for Lagos the next day. Guess what it contained... A calabash to drink palmwine, a traditional wrist bead, and a clay bowl lantern, that you would light up with Epo Pupa (called Fitila in Yoruba). I passed them all to my mum, lol. I was thinking I would get an iPhone.


I stayed at Green Legacy, Obasanjo's hotel, and actually saw him and his entourage walking around the premises, inspecting some things. I'd have taken his picture if he weren't too far from me. Oh well...

It was really a great event, despite the whole Efun stuff, babalawo scenes and all. I am glad I was part of this, and exposed me more the yoruba culture.

38 comments

  1. Hmmm Quite interesting.

    lol i will send the remaining part of the comment via bb.

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  2. Ok hmm
    Comments reserved
    Can't hold it back! What?!
    Wasn't it supposed to be justa birthday celebration? You are brave tho

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    2. Looolll. What was I supposed to do? Turn back? We went to the forest in a very long convoy, and there were hundreds and hundreds of people, mostly in literary showbiz. It was fun, actually.

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  3. Wow, this is different. I woulda been scared as heck in the forest o. I don't like being outdoors at night, much less a forest with living things. Thanks but no thanks. Happy belated birthday Mr Soyinka.

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    1. Looooll. You won't have been scared. You love people, and there were lots of people there. Ehhrmm, it is not Mr, but Professor.

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  4. This is an interesting event, Wole Soyinka is a traditionalist so I am not surprised. You sure had fun and met important people.

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  5. I love the yoruba culture. I wish I can witness something like this sef..... And I am no pagan....

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    1. You'd have enjoyed it, if you were there.

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    2. Wow! I woulda have loved it. And no, i wouldn't have been scared too. I love WS :D

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    3. @ Toin: Lol, I trust you.

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    4. The excitement will take away my fear of things like the tree spirit....and all other ish.......till today I am scared of masquerades but you will see me behind a window peeping to catch a glimpse.....

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  6. What a great initiative here. I'll look around the site and see if I can offer any additional ideas. Thanks.
    Yepi

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  7. Nice. It was an amazing experience. Well you got the chance to live a day in woke soyinkas life.

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    1. Yes oooo. Though I doubt hie life is always that fun, lol.

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  8. The traditional lanterns are called 'atupa' fyi. What a great experience!!! This Atilola is not nice at all. You need to be using me as handbag for these events. I loved the pictures. I enjoy traditional fare so much, I would have been right at home, blowing "Egba" with my kinsmen in Abeokuta....sigh! Oh well.

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    1. Funny enuf, I thot it was mordern lanterns they call atupa. Looolll, you can't speak Egba jooo. You dis butter that want to come and be forming pako. You know I know your secret.

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  9. I second that o Cherry. I can def be your handbag na

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    1. Lool, Toin. Abeokuta is not far from your house na. Go there and have fun.

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  10. But come o Ati, you're really small. I mean when my sis said you were "shekele" i didn't think this "shekele" looool

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    1. Lol. You and your sister have definitely been gossiping about me.

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    2. Lmao at shekele! I would have had goose pimples through out if i was at that event and those pictures reminds me of the film "Agbara nla"

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  11. Hi @tilola, I lived in the same compound with Prof Wole for 8 years, he rented a duplex in my big mummy's house in Idi aba in Abeokuta. He was so cross when we cut down the bongevillea that covered the fence. He had an annual party for the children in the area, in fact our house was known and called 'ile Wole Soyinka'. He used to go hunting with my older brother, and I used to eat the quails from the hunting. yes, his house is in a forest, in Kemta

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    1. Are you serious? Which one is Kemta again o? I know we went to his house, at Ijegba forest. Are they one and the same?

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  12. Beautiful,I love the fact that he remained traditional. I'm sure the disclaimer was. Put there coz of media personnels who won't mind their business. A true role model.

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    1. Yea, I guess so too. Media can be very intrusive at times.

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  13. I honestly would have been surprised to see candles and flowers *smiling*
    I admire Wole Soyinka a lot and wish him many more years in health and wealth.
    Thanks for sharing. I love living vicariously through your life! Lol! Yes, I read most of your posts but only comment if I have something to say.....

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    1. Loolll at candles and flowers. Thanks very much o, for the constant read. It is really encouraging.

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  14. Thnks for posting this on your Blog Lola, God bless you my dear aburo, i'm proud of you...

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    1. Thanks very much for dropping by, Tosin. I really appreciate it.

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  15. Wowiee! Youa re very brave Atilola!!! As in!! lol
    Like Berry said, I don't think I fit do am... I would be speaking in tongues louder than that woman lol.
    Creativity at its finest though.. You have to respect the talent God has blessed that man with!
    LOL@iPhone..

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    1. Loooolll. I'm sure you wouldn't jooo. You got a great being living inside of you. Nothing fit happen.

      That stage play was serious money and creativity o. So sad that I don't have a proper camera. You'd have been wowed.

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  16. An elaborate and enjoyable celebration from the pixs and the tone of your write-up.
    Now that trespass-sign scared me!

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    1. Loooollll. We were laffing when we saw it too. Imagine a real trespasser seeing it. He will just turn back, cos the truth is no one will know where he died, lol. No one to tell the story to the world.

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  17. Lol @ the iPhone comment. He is not GEJ.

    I really loved your dress, the one white the white skirt and ankara top
    I think it is a dress though but that is how I could define it
    What material is the skirt part of your dress, it looks amazing

    My dear, Wole Soyinka is gifted and all that but those things you saw are who he is and you can't deny #jujuthings

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  18. Soyinka brought culture back like Justin brought sexy back. An Igbo man would have gone like "ogini, what isi all this?" (using my Igbo accent) but I am sure you had fun and you learnt about your culture. Well done girl, you are living the dream already (tapping into your anointing..) Uniquely different with Fredilia

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