Saturday 11 August 2012

Soyinka is new head of UNESCO’s centre for Black Culture and International Understanding

As the Governor of State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, named Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, the chairman of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), it appears like a lesson in how not to personalise public office.
The appointment of Soyinka replaces former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who, under a law promulgated in 2008, became the chairman of the centre’s board. The law, interestingly, empowered Oyinlola (the then governor of Osun State) to hold the office even after his tenure.
CBCIU was inaugurated on January 7, 2009 amidst controversy. The Centre was approved by the Executive Board of UNESCO at its 180th Session in France in October 2008 and became the custodian of Ulli Beier’s archival materials.

It would be recalled that ahead of the establishment of CBCIU, Soyinka as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador had strongly opposed what he termed clandestine plan to deposit these works at another UNESCO-designated place, the Institute of African Culture and International Understanding located within Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State. 

The new law tagged Osun State Centre For Black Culture and International Understanding (Amendment) Law, 2012, assented by Aregbesola on July 31, 2012 states “the Board shall consist of the following members and a Chairman of the Board who shall be the Governor or anyone appointed by him.”

A statement by the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy in the Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, says the new board would have concurrent responsibility to develop the Yoruba World Heritage Centre to be called New Ife, Ile-Ife, State of Osun.

Prof Wole Soyinka
Beier and his wife Georgina according to sources, had rejected offers from some universities in the U.S. to house the works.

The archival materials include over 10, 000 items of books, articles, photographs, negatives and albums, films, videos, audio cassettes, record and CDs, printed momento about concerts and exhibitions were originally collected in 1950s during their (couple) sojourn in Nigeria.

Beier is well known for translating works of African origin such as poetry, drama, particularly of Yoruba language into English.

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