One of Nigeria’s foremost and famous writers, poet and novelist, Dr. Gabriel Okara, is dead.
Okara, who is from Bumoundi, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, died at Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Yenagoa on Sunday.
The legendary poet and novelist who was a lifelong patron of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) died at the age of 97 years and a month to his 98th birthday.
A family member, who pleaded anonymity, said Okara was relaxing at his Yenagoa residence when he slumped about 4p.m. on Sunday. He said the head of the Okara family has sent a text message out for an emergency meeting and the family would issue a formal statement afterwards.
Meanwhile, the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Bayelsa state chapter, in a statement by its Chairman, Mrs. Bina Ilagha, said the association was saddened by the news of the death.
“The association is ruffled by the news because it came at a time when preparations are in top gear to celebrate his masterpiece: The Voice at 55. We are saddened by the news, but are consoled that he left behind lofty legacies. Pa Okara, through his literary exploits put Bayelsa in the map of literary excellence,” she said.
Also, the speech writer to the Governor of Bayelsa, and one time Chairman of ANA, Mr. Michael Afenfia, in a statement in Yenagoa expressed sadness about the death.
Gabriel Imomotimi Okara (born 24 April 1921) is a Nigerian poet and novelist who was born in Bumoundi in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state.
The first modernist poet of Anglophone Africa, he is best known for his early experimental novel, “The Voice (1964) and his award-winning poetry, The Fisherman’s Invocation (1978) and The Dreamer, His Vision (2005).”
In both his poems and his prose, Okara draws on African thought, religion, folklore and imagery and he has been called “the Nigerian Negritudist.”