By Eseoghene Emuke
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has described the death of award-winning legendary poet and playwright, Pa Gabriel Imomotimi Okara as a great loss to the people of Niger Delta region.
PANDEF is the forum for all ethnic nationality leaders in the Niger Delta.
Okara, the author of the award-winning “The Call of the River Nun” in 1979, died on Monday after a briefed illness in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State Capital at the age of 97.
PANDEF in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade on Tuesday, said the forum and the people of the region received the news of his passage with rude shock.
The statement noted that until Okara’s death, he served as the beacon of hope and a representation of the ideals that have held the people of the Niger Delta together in since he broke into limelight in the 1960s.
According to it, “Pa Okara not only represents the link between the transitional and modernist phases of African literature, but the interpreter of the artistic worldview of the peoples of the Niger Delta.
“He was an award winning poet: winner of the Best All-Round Entry in Poetry at the Nigerian Festival of Arts, for his poem, “The Call of the River Nun” in 1979, He won the NLNG Prize for his “The Dreamer, His Vision” in 2009.
“His poem ‘The Fisherman’s Invocation” 2005 won him the commonwealth Poetry Prize. Pa Okara also won the Pan African Writers’ Association Honorary Membership Award 2007.”
PANDEF further stated that Professor Emeritus of the University of Port-Harcourt would be greatly missed by the people of the region.
people of the Niger Delta, Nigeria and indeed the World shall surely miss this
literary Czar of African poetry. Adieu Pa Gabriel Imomotimi OKARA!”, it added.
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