Popular Nigerian poet and playwright,J. P. Clark has passed away at the age of 86 after battling some health problems. The news of the demise of John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo who publishes as J. P. Clark was revealed in a statement issued by the family, which reads;
“The Clark-Fuludu Bekederemo family of Kiagbodo town, Delta State, wishes to announce that Emeritus Professor of Literature and renowned writer, Prof. John Pepper Clark, has finally dropped his pen in the early hours of today, Tuesday, 13 October 2020.
“Prof. J. P. Clark has paddled on to the great beyond in comfort of his wife, children and sibling, around him.
“The family appreciates your prayers at this time. Other details will be announced later by the family”.
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, have poured out their tribute to the emeritus Professor of Literature, Poet and renowned playwright.
In acknowledging the legacy of the dramatist and recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award for literary excellence, President Buhari said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Chief Femi Adesina;
“President Buhari takes solace that his body of literary works, which earned him recognition and respect both at home and abroad, would continue to inspire upcoming Nigerian writers to pursue literary excellence and flourish in their chosen vocation.
“The President’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of the departed patriot, the government and people of Delta State and the literary community in the country”, said in the statement.
J. P. Clark whose real name is John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo was one of Nigerian greatest dramatist whose repertoire of published works depicts the hard-work of a great man, devoted to a lifetime of writing, knowledge and promotion of the indigenous culture of the Ijaw nation.
One of his notable works includes; ‘A DECADE OF TONGUE’, a poem which approach the Nigerian civil war as haunting and ever turbulent from the mediation of fact and fiction rendered in poetry.
Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki who described Clark as a great academic and a celebrated poet during his life time expressed his deep sense of shock and foreboding over the sad news;
“His writings mirrored society all through our development as a nation and he raised his pen when it mattered the most to condemn societal ills that threatened our collective existence and advancement as a nation as well as a continent,” Obaseki said.
Clark was most noted for his poetry, including Poems like;
(Mbari, 1961), a group of 40 lyrics that treat heterogeneous themes.
A Reed in the Tide (Longmans, 1965), occasional poems that focus on Clark’s indigenous African background and his travel experience in America and other places.
Casualties: Poems 1966–68 (USA: Africana Publishing Corporation, 1970), which illustrate the horrendous events of the Nigeria-Biafra war.
A Decade of Tongues (Longmans, Drumbeat series, 1981), a collection of 74 poems, all of which apart from “Epilogue to Casualties” (dedicated to Michael Echeruo) were previously published in earlier volumes.