Buhari mourns literary Icon, Gabriel Okara

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Late literary scion, Gabriel Okara
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the passage of the renowned poet, novelist and playwright, Gabriel Okara, aged 97.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Monday, the president extended his condolences to the Okara family.
President Buhari also condoled with the government and people of Bayelsa, the literary community and all who drank from the writer’s fountain of knowledge.
The President believed that Okara, who was deservedly known as the ‘‘founder of Modern African literature’’ would be fondly remembered for his immense contributions to the development of African literature, drawing on experience from his native Ijaw language.
The President extolled the “great story-teller whose powerful use of imagery and symbolism in his literary writings helped the world to appreciate and understand the richness, complexities and uniqueness of the African heritage and culture.’’
President Buhari prayed Almighty God to grant the soul of the departed writer peaceful repose and comfort all who mourned him.
The literary icon passed died on Sunday at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, four weeks before his 98th birthday.
Born in 1921 in Boumandi in present day Bayelsa State, Mr Okara was part of the golden set of pioneer African writers.
He was the first renowned English language black poet and also the first modernist writer on the African continent.
The literary icon passed died on Sunday at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, four weeks before his 98th birthday.
Born in 1921 in Boumandi in present day Bayelsa State, Mr Okara was part of the golden set of pioneer African writers.
He was the first renowned English language black poet and also the first modernist writer on the African continent.
The Nigerian negritudist, as he was fondly called, began his writing career in Government College Umuahia.
By 1960, he became the first African to be published in the prestigious literary journal, Black Orpheus. That same year he also became part of its editorial board.
In 1953, his poem ‘Call of the river nun’ won the best prize in literature in Nigeria’s festival of arts.
In 1979, his collection ‘Fishermans invocation’ won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.
In 2005, he bagged the highest literary honour in Nigeria, the NLNG prize. (NAN, Premium Times)

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