President Muhammadu Buhari, governors and other eminent Nigerians have paid tributes to literary icon, Emeritus Prof. John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo, who died in the early hours on Tuesday. He was 86.
The renowned poet and playwright was born on December 3, 1933, in Kiagbodo, Delta State.
The family, in a statement, said: “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 siblings, around him. The family appreciates your prayers at this time. Other details will be announced later by the family.”
The late writer is widely-acclaimed for his plays and poetry on traditional Ijaw myths and legends. He also wrote essays on African poetry.
President Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the death of the literary icon would leave a huge vacuum in the literary world.
The statement reads: “On behalf of the Federal Government, President Muhammadu Buhari extends the deepest condolence to the Clark-Fuludu Bekederemo family on the passing of renowned writer and Emeritus Professor of Literature, Prof. John Pepper Clark.
“President Buhari pays tribute to one of Nigeria’s finest poets, dramatist and recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award for literary excellence, 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.
“Acknowledging that Prof. J.P. Clark’s exit has, indeed, left an indelible mark in the literary world, 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. He prays for the peaceful repose of the soul departed.”
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has commiserated with the family. He described Clark as “a great academic, celebrated poet”.
“His literary exploits brought honour and great respect to Nigeria and his contributions to literature and education, in general, will outlive many generations,” the governor said.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has also mourned the passing on of the late writer, calling him as “a literary “colossus”.
“As we all mourn the transition of this great African to eternal life, our heartfelt condolences go to his dear family and our dear Papa, Chief Edwin Clark.
“Forever, the world shall recall the intellectual stature and contributions of Prof Emeritus John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo,” he said.
Celebrated Playwright Prof. Femi Osofisan also mourned the late poet. “He had a complex personality. He was an embodiment of contradictions in his personality, but what interests us is his talent as a poet and writer and conscience of society.
“He wasn’t a protest poet, but was very political in his writing. He was very concerned about the issues that pertain to society. We are going to miss him. I would personally miss him because he is my friend and mentor.”