By Camillus Ukah
THE Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) is deeply saddened by the news of the departure of one of her preeminent writers, Emeritus Professor John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo, who passed away on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
The passing of the 85-year-old internationally acclaimed poet and playwright is, no doubt, an immeasurable loss to the Nigerian literati and the country at large; and that has once again sadly depleted the irokos in the Nigerian literary space.
Nigeria more than ever needed the sharp and abundantly inventive mind of one of her finest writers, which conveyed such eloquent and powerful thoughts through his solid poetry and plays. Among the profoundly deep things the literary guru represented is the rare ethos of an elevated elite group that has successfully set a pattern for interrogating the excesses of oppressive systems and by so doing, accentuating the importance of literature in the rehabilitation of decadent societies.
The Association of Nigerian Authors will forever remember J.P Clark’s deeply humanistic initiative and comradely thrust when he rallied the two other legs to the Nigerian literary tripod (Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka) to save (though eventual unsuccessful) the soldier-poet and foremost benefactor to ANA, Mamman Vatsa, from the clutch of death in the hands of the then General Ibrahim Babangida’s military regime.
Particularly, the ace writer will be remembered for his evocative and incandescent lyricism. Nigerians everywhere should therefore arise and celebrate literature and its incarnation in the form of the late inimitable and evergreen African writer given that Nigeria stands tall today in the eyes of the international community because of the collective endeavours of path-finding literary craftsmen like J P Clark.
May the Almighty God grant the departed literary forebear eternal rest and solace to his immediate family and the larger Nigerian literary community.
Ukah is President, Association of Nigerian Authors