Legendary Nigerian Poet and Writer John Pepper Clark Dies

Nigeria poet, writer and Emeritus Professor of Literature, John Pepper Clark, has died at the age of 85. Clark had been battling a short illness when he passed away this past Tuesday, according to the Premium Times. The veteran writer was celebrated for his most famous works that used cultural autonomy as a weapon against colonial imperialism. His writings were considered political art that drew on the aesthetic of Nigerian culture.


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Clark, pseudonym J.P. Clark-Bekederemo, was born on the 6th of April 1935 in Kiagbodo, Nigeria. According to Britannica, he was considered one of “the most lyrical of the Nigerian poets, whose poetry celebrates the physical landscape of Africa. He was also a journalist, playwright, and scholar-critic who conducted research into traditional Ijo myths and legends and wrote essays on African poetry.”

A well travelled scholar and observer of the times, Clarke’s writing reflected his intellectual depth to play with reality and fiction. Famous for his much-eulogised poem “Ibadan”. His extensive work included a Nigerian take on classical Grecian theatre with well known play “Song of a Goat”. Clarke’s vast accomplishments received the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award for literary excellence. President Muhammadu Buhari recently sent his condolences to the bereaved family.

“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. 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.”

Clark also worked as an information officer in the Ministry of Information, in the old Western Region of Nigeria, as features editor of the Daily Express in 1960 shortly after his graduation. He served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. Before retiring as a professor of English at the University of Lagos in 1980, he was co-editor of the literary magazine, Black Orpheus.

Here are some tributes to Clark on social media below: