Ten Nigerians have arrived Lebanon to begin a 10-day intensive study on history and culture at Cedars Institute, Notre Dame University (NDU) on the Wole Soyinka Foundation’s Study Abroad in Lebanon (SAIL) programme.
The beneficiaries are Mary Aboekwe, a reverend sister from the Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State, and Adenle Ademola, a budding writer.
Others are Oladele Faji, Khalid Imam, Salamatu Sule, Kassima Okani, Wole Adedoyin, Blessing Christopher, Temi Soyinka and Christian Nyamali.
Speaking at a press briefing to unveil the candidates before their departure, Folake Soyinka, Executive Director of Wole Soyinka Foundation (WSF), said majority of the beneficiaries are young writers from the Ebedi Writers Residency in Oyo State, an Architecture student and a Nigerian student of Mechanical Engineering in England.
She appealed to individuals and corporate organisations to support the programme to increase the number of the beneficiaries.
She said increased financial support will enable WSF to achieve other objective of the programme by bringing students from Lebanon to Nigeria.
Habib Jafaar of Apple and Pears, who is the facilitator of the project, said the programme is an initiative of the Benedict XVI Chair of the NDU to promote educational and cultural exchange project between Nigeria and Lebanon.
Jafaar said the programme started last year with four students, adding that WSF had been a credible partner in ensuring the success of the programme.
“We have very good report from the candidates and the host in Lebanon, and we are encouraged to expand the number from four last year to 10 this year… it may be more next year,” Jafaar said
“The SAIL programme has many different chapters; the Russian chapter, where the Russian students come. They have the Brazilian chapter, the Ukrainian chapter, the Indian chapter and the Nigerian chapter. And we are very happy that this is the second one.
“It is a very intensive 10-day course taught by at least six faculty professors very conversant in their fields and it is complemented by lectures at the Unesco Heritage Centre sites.”
In 2016, the four participants of the programme were Damilare Justice (PGD Environmental Geology, student University of Jos), Zubairu Bambale (M.Phil student, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria), Ibrahim Jimba (BA student, Kwara State University, Malete, Kwara State) and Olumuyiwa Ajayi (PhD student Covenant University Ota, Ogun State).
Jimba described the experience as “pleasing” and a “blessing”.
“A big ‘thank you’ to the Cedars Institute in collaboration with the BenedictXIV chair of religious, cultural and philosophical studies for the initiative; the Wole Soyinka Foundation under whose auspices I was able to go; my great institute (KWASU) under whose platform I was chosen to participate,” he said.
“I consider the programme an intellectual and cultural tourism. It was a really fascinating and knowledge-filled experience as we (the participants) were able walk through, and live History in a distinct way.
“In addition, we saw world history through the eyes of Lebanon. The enthusiasm of our tutors was really admirable and intriguing. My perception about the Lebanese community and the Lebanese-Nigerian relations have positively changed.”