Popular literary icon and a giant of African literature Pa Gabriel Okara, aged 98, has been reported to have died on Sunday after a brief illness.
A native of Bumoundi in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State, the death of the literary giant has thrown Bayelsa into mourning. Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson yesterday described the death of the famous poet and novelist as a great loss to the state and Nigeria.
Dickson stated that as a mark of honor, his government has declared 3 days mourning for the late Okara beginning from Monday to Wednesday this week with all flags to fly at half mast.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson also quoted the governor to have made the remark in a statement issued on Monday. He said Okara who passed on at the age of 98 made a remarkable mark in the African literary industry, churning out great works that helped shape the African society which includes, The Call of the River Nun, the Fisherman’s Invocation, Piano and Drums, You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed and others.
Dickson who said that Okara was held in high esteem as a pride to the Niger Delta and indeed the African contingent add that it was in appreciation of his exploits that the Government decided to name the State Cultural Centre in Yenagoa after him.
He noted that the late Gabriel Okara will be greatly missed by all lovers of literature and intellectualism especially the young and upcoming writers.
The governor pointed out that Pa Gabriel Okara who is reported to be the first renowned English Language black African poet was very supportive of his administration’s educational policies and took time to attend some state events alongside other literary icons.
He however also assured that his government will support the deceased family to give the first African modernist writer who hails from the state a befitting burial.