For every time I remember the tales of Abiku, different names usually pop, but then again one man will usually dominate the euphoria of names around, John Pepper Clark (J.P. Clark) used to be the name, yes USED TO, but like the fruit tree one by one we shall desert the mother tree, and eventually, the fruit tree shall become firewood.
There was no foresight as a student of African Literature, when I had written, ” A golden generation washing away; and the fate of literature ” for I was only encumbered by the tragedies facing the folklores realm, and the archaic legacies we hold, due to the glory of the past, First, it was Chinua Achebe, then it was the bard of Labode the master of mirth, and then it was Atukwei Okai now John Pepper Clark, shall we not understand quickly how fast this time is..?
Of Abiku and the many tales by the now-deceased icon, he had written this piece, “Abiku” among many collected poems of the 1958 eras,I wasn’t even born then, but it is a navel of the soul each time I scroll through, like Lenrie Peters, not just the fence, but during this torrid times, he perhaps was prepared for the casualties of various protest, when in 1967-8 he had written the casualties after the civil war, we do hope this current times won’t lead to another, as a country seems standing on gunpowder.
Born in Kiagbodo, some decades ago, precisely 1935, thank God for history, for this men born within this era had enjoyed quality education, everything was real in the realism sense of things, and as today mother earth has taken one of its own, we that remain shall yet taste the icy hand of death also. These men were gods of literature, and his excellence will not dwindle even as the dawn of ages beckons, and should we forget him as time hangs on the wing of a bee, then his history would always create room for him.
As one of Africa’s leading authors, he has continued to play active roles on literary affairs even after retirement, resulting in his receipt of the Nigerian National Merit Award for literary excellence in 1991. Howard University published his two definitive volumes, The Ozidi Saga and Collected Plays and Poems 1958-1988.
He held visiting professorial appointments at several institutions of higher learning, including Yale and Wesleyan University in the United States. Though not alone in this galore, however, my question remains, now that he has been plucked off the tree at a very ripe time, we still are yet to have those filing into this big boots they are leaving behind.
When Femi Osofisan had written about his friend Labode, the master of mirth, I realise truly what is leaving Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, the “White men seem to be replacing very well the legends who had gone very far with quality ones, however, the golden generation here seems standing alone and just has Clark has one very far, we can’t even trace him still, but I am sure we did be able to relish his works a come hopefully with what would make his proud bones happy.
John Pepper Clark, like Wole Soyinka, was a very formidable active individual, the legacies of him and the Prof that University shall continue to immortalise, for they were men who moved heaven and earth during their prime, and though many of his friends and colleagues would miss him, I tell you these people had a better childhood than many of us, and I will always remember many many works of beautiful art by him.
There would be many tributes to pour in for him, just as many news sites had been floating ceaselessly, but why do we wait for this icon to go before we remember to celebrate them? Won’t it be better if we had a brand who will always celebrate our icon while alive, and perhaps we call them on invites, learn from them and give them the synergy of the wish never to grow old anymore, and although baba is 85, no one feels happy when they lose their loved ones? But I do still hope we celebrate the legends remaining before they too set sail on the sea.
Let us also pay homage and condolences to Pan African Writers Association, (PAWA) one of its very decorated member and father had gone, not too soon, but with lots of feathers on his hat, not too far we had to mourn the passing away of Atukwei Okai, two years ago, then some ten years ago, we had bid farewell to Leopold Sedar Senghol, and now J.P Clark, arent the beautiful ones already going? Well, it’s there natural home, where we all shall reunite.
And while we continue to find our identity as a country, one who had seen the future already predicted, Clark had said, What is it in ourselves or in our soil, That things which connect so well elsewhere Like the telephone, the motorway, the airways, Dislocate our lives so much that we all begin to doubt our own intelligence?’ — Nigerian poet, J. P. Clark.
May the dead rest in peace.