L-R: Dr. Habib Jafaar, Mrs Folake Soyinka and Prof. Wole Soyinka at a news conference at Freedom Park, Lagos on exchange programme between the Wole Soyinka Foundation and the Cedars Institute, Lebanon.

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Ten Nigerian writers will depart Lagos for Lebanon on Tuesday on an exchange programme, under the Study Abroad In Lebanon (SAIL) project.

The programme is an initiative of NDU’s Benedict XVI Chair in collaboration with the Cedars Institute of Lebanon and the Wole Soyinka Foundation in Nigeria.

The programme, the second edition in the series will see 10 Nigerian writers depart for Lebanon for an intensive 10-day course with over eight hours of daily contact and interaction with various faculties, guest lecturers and officially certified tourist guides at the Cedars Institute in Lebanon. The programme holds between 14 and 24 September, 2017.

The first edition of the SAIL project was held in August 2016 when five Nigerian students travelled to Lebanon for the exchange programme to broaden their knowledge.

At a news conference on Monday at the Freedom Park, Lagos Island, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria to officially announce the departure of the 10 writers, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said the second edition of the project had an increase in the number of participants, with the hope that a larger number of participants would be expected next year.

He said the number of participants depended on the sponsorship arrangement, while calling on individuals, corporate bodies and governments to key into the project by sponsoring people vetted by the foundation for the exchange programme, as the participants would acquire useful knowledge during the programme.

Facilitator of the SAIL Project, Dr. Habib Jafaar disclosed that 10 Nigerian writers would take part in this year’s programme and would be travelling to Lebanon on Tuesday to engage in a 10-day intensive course programme to be co-taught by three to six faculties with different specialization.

The faculties are Philosophy, Theology, World and Ottoman History and Art and Architectural History.

“The distinguishing feature of this course is that it combines and fuses rigorous academic knowledge with first-hand experience of historical sites of global and regional significance. It will focus on the historical foundation of Lebanon as a geopolitical strategic region that sets the stage for the rise of Phoenician civilization and will examine its emergence as a hub of international trade of global significance, among others,” Jafaar said.

According to him, the course would enable students assess and evaluate historical and philosophical concepts both methodologically and critically, as well as enable students reflect, think and write critically about their own experiences confronting new cultural context, and several others.

He added that the course would introduce students to new concepts and would challenge their conceptions of the region while it would allow students understand some of the major themes of World History from the unique vantage point of Lebanon.

“It will complement lectures with first-hand experiences of UNESCO world heritage sites and other historically significant areas. It will expose students to the culture of dialogue and its implementation within Lebanon society. It will make possible for Nigerian students to interact with Lebanese students and society in various contexts,” Jafaar explained.

Programme Director, Wole Soyinka Foundation, Folake Soyinka said last year, those who went on the exchange programme were students and that this year’s participants would be writers, adding that those who embarked on the programme last year bore testimonies of the usefulness of the programme in broadening their psyche.

The 10 participants for this year’s exchange programme are: Adenle Oloruntoba, Rev. Sister Mary Aboekwe, Oladele Faji, Khalid Imam, Ms Salamatu Sule, Mrs Kassima Okani, Wole Adedoyi, Ms Blessing Christopher, Temi Soyinka and Christian Nayamali.