Gabriel Okara

Renowned poet, novelist Gabriel Okara dies one month to 98th birthday

NEWS DIGEST–One of Nigeria’s foremost and famous writers, poets and novelists, Dr. Gabriel Okara, is dead.

Okara, who is from Boumadi, Bayelsa State, died at the Federal Medical Center, Yenagoa, in the evening of Sunday, 24th March, 2019.

It was gathered that the legendary poet and novelist died at the age of 97, approximately a month to his 98th birthday.

He was said to be a lifelong Patron of the Association of Nigerian Authors.

A family member who pleaded anonymity said Pa Okara was relaxing at his Yenagoa residence when he slumped at about 4pm 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.

The Association of Nigerian Authors, Bayelsa State chapter, in a statement by its chairman, Mrs. Bina Ilagha, said, “The association is ruffled by the news because it came at a time when preparations were 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 on the map of literary excellence.”

Also, the speech writer to the governor of Bayelsa State and one time chairman of ANA, Mr. Michael Afenfia, in a statement in Yenagoa said: “It is with great sadness that I received the news of the passing of the renowned poet and novelist, Gabriel Okara.

“Even in passing, I am sure your poem, Piano and Drums, will minister to me in many ways.

“Your words are an inspiration! Your concerns about the African culture in the face of Western threat as expressed in Once Upon a Time are ever before me.

“Thank you for leaving us with so much to remember of your time here with us.

“Thank you for setting the pace for several generations of writers.”