A beloved tradition, Oglethorpe Day annually celebrates our university’s namesake, General James Edward Oglethorpe, with the spirited “Petrels of Fire” race on the quad, an esteemed guest speaker, and other Oglethorpe-related activities throughout the day.
This year, on Wednesday, February 8, we welcome speaker Derreck Kayongo, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. From refugee to CEO, Derreck has learned how to survive, turning challenges into triumphs and reminding us we live in a world where one person can still make a difference.
During his remarks, Derreck will perform two scenes from a play inspired by his life. Currently under development, Idi Amin, America and a Bar of Soap is written by Patricia Henritze, a playwriting instructor at Oglethorpe, and will be directed by artistic collaborator Matt Huff, associate professor of theatre.
The one-man play follows Derreck from his childhood in Uganda under Idi Amin’s brutal regime, through his experiences in Kenya as a refugee, and finally into the U.S. as an immigrant and ultimately a citizen. In 2011, Derreck was chosen as a CNN Hero for founding the Global Soap Project. This nonprofit international aid organization recycles discarded soap from hotels and distributes newly processed soap to fight hygiene-related diseases, which is the #1 killer of children in vulnerable populations around the world. While Derreck has an amazing story to tell, the play is not a documentary or motivational speech. Derreck’s journey is filled with humor and the play has something for everyone: dangerous escapes, spies, firing squads, betrayal, hope and redemption.
In 2016, the project was awarded a grant from the Alliance Theatre’s Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab for 2016-17 to support its development to the stage. As part of the Oglethorpe Day presentation, Bob and Margaret Reiser will talk briefly about the Reiser Lab, which aims “to celebrate the breadth and vision of Atlanta-based artists, to encourage collaboration among Atlanta’s artistic community, and to seed projects that will be produced here in Atlanta.”
Everyone is invited to join in the Oglethorpe Day festivities, beginning at 12:45 p.m. on the quad, the Petrels of Fire race at 1 p.m. sharp, followed by Mr. Kayongo’s address at 1:15 in the Conant Performing Arts Center.