By Onome Oghenetega
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has described the death of literary icon and winner of the 2014 Nigeria Prize for Literature, Prof. Sam Ukala, as a big loss to the state and Nigeria.
Okowa, who expressed shock on receiving the demise of the writer, said the deceased used his literary craft to promote the people of Delta and Nigeria to the global community.
NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online had broken the news of the death of Prof Ukala on Tuesday morning.
It reported that the former Professor of Theatre Arts and Drama at Delta State University, Abraka, who recently retired, died on Monday.
But Okowa in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Olisa Ifeajika, expressed sadness over the death of Nigeria’s literary icon.
The governor lauded the deceased for his immense contributions to the growth and development of literature in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.
He said that the works of Ukala promoted Delta particularly, the country and Africa, adding that he would be remembered and celebrated by lovers of literature across the world.
Okowa said that with the demise of the legendary academic, death, the inevitable, had dealt a devastating blow on the literary community and left a lacuna that may be difficult to fill.
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I commiserate with the Ukala family of Mbiri, the Ika nation and the entire literary world over the demise of the cerebral writer.
“The late Ukala propounded the theory of ‘folkism’ which was to base literary plays on indigenous history and culture, composed and performed them in accordance with African folktale which has gained significant global recognition.
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“Until his death, he was a member of the Governing Council of the three new universities we recently established and contributed his best in ensuring that the universities took off as planned.
“It is my belief that the late Sam Ukala will be long remembered and honoured for his huge impact not just in African folktale but dramatic arts,” the governor said.
Okowa prayed that God would grant eternal rest to the soul of the departed Ukala and comfort his family and all who mourn him.
Prof. Ukala won the 2014 Nigeria Prize for Literature with bestselling book “Iredi War”. He also won the ANA/British Council Prize for Drama with his book “Akpakaland” in 1989.