By Sunday Saanu
University of Ibadan was literally engulfed with joy and excitement as several alumni and prominent products of the Department of Theatre Arts stormed the campus to witness the renaming of Arts Theatre after the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
Before and after the event, students became so enthusiastic to behold Soyinka whom some of them had met only in books, thereby joyously coming out of their various hostels and classrooms, jostling for a vantage position to snap him with their phone sets, while a few others became so desperate to obtain his orthography.
However, in his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka said his administration believed in honouring the university’s icons and heroes for the great works they had done, which he said had given the University global recognition.
To buttress his claim, the university boss cited the renaming of the Central Administration Complex after the late Prof. Tekna Tamuno who was the first alumnus to become the Vice Chancellor of the university.
Extolling Soyinka, the VC remarked that the literary icon deserved every honour the institution could accord him, given his intellectual contributions to the development of UI, urging students to emulate him in intellectual endeavor and achievements.
In his address, the Head, Theatre Arts Department , Prof. Matthew Umukoro stated that re-naming the Arts Theatre after Prof. Soyinka was a fitting tribute to one who has brought much honour and glory to the Department and the University of Ibadan, pointing out that Soyinka has become a global icon for scholarship and creativity.
“Our vision has been to see the Arts Theatre transform into Wole Soyinka Theatre, expanded and modernized to meet the technical and technological challenges of twenty-first century. We intend to take the dream further by launching a Wole Soyinka Theatre Endowment Fund to raise the capital required for actualizing our goal”, Umukoro disclosed.
According to him, “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.”
The second Geoffrey Axworthy Guest Lecturer, Prof. Ahmed Yerima traced the historical contributions of Axworthy who was credited with the establishment of theatre arts in the then University College known as Ibadan today, saying the foreign scholar touched the lives of the students positively.
Responding, Soyinka thanked the University and the Department for the honour, recalling some of the challenges faced in the past while Theatre Arts Department was in its formative stage.
The event was spiced by a drama presentation by the students of the Department to the delight of the audience, just as Department of Music put up an impressive outing.
Notable figures at the event were Prof. J. P. Clark, Prof. Femi Osofisan, the 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 among others.