Bayelsa mourns as literary icon, Okara, dies at 97

Bayelsa State has been thrown into mourning following the death of a prominent literary icon, Dr. Gabriel Imomotimi Okara. He died at 97.

It was gathered Okara, who is from Boumadi, Bayelsa State, died at Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Yenagoa on Sunday evening.

The legendary writer was said to be a lifelong Patron of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).

A family member who pleaded spoke in confidence said Pa Okara was relaxing at his Yenagoa residence when he slump at about 4pm on SundayHe said the head of the Okara family had convened an emergency meeting, and the family would issue a formal statement afterwards.

Governor Seriake Dickson described the death of the famous poet and novelist, as a great loss to the state and Nigeria.

Dickson stated as a mark of honour, his government had declared a three-day 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 quoted the governor to have made the remark in a statement 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 such as The Call of the River Nun, the Fisherman’s Invocation, Piano and Drums, You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed and many others that helped shaped the continent.

Dickson said that Okara was held in high esteem as a pride to the Niger Delta and the Africa noting that it was in appreciation of his exploits that the Government decided to name the State Cultural Centre in Yenagoa after him.

He noted the late Okara would be greatly missed by all lovers of literature and intellectualism especially the young and upcoming writers.

The governor pointed out 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.

The governor assured his government would support the deceased family to give the first African modernist writer who hails from the state a befitting burial.

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