Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Former Minister of State for Education, Kenneth Gbagi, on Friday has described the Late John Pepper Clark, as one who contributed immensely to the nation’s social-cultural development.
He further described Clark’s demise as a huge loss to the Nigerian Academia.
In a statement he personally signed, Gbagi eulogized the deceased poet who is a younger brother to Nigeria’s former Minister of Information, Edwin Clark.
According to him, Pepper Clark’s works, particularly on events of the Nigeria-Biafra war — Casualties: Poems, and A Decade of Tongues, a collection of 74 poems, remains a legacy that would continue to illuminate the minds of Nigeria’s creatives.
“I consider the demise of Pepper Clark a huge loss to the Nigerian Academia. His contributions to the country’s socio-cultural development cannot be quantified, as his works remain indelible in our memories.
“Famous for his much-eulogised poem ‘Ibadan’, Clark was able to draw on aesthetic and cultural autonomy in his earliest poems as a form of protest against colonial hegemony.
“In a subtle but brilliant way, he was able to relive the cultural history of the Ijaw people in his dramatic works: The Raft (1964); Ozidi (1966); and The Boat (1981).
“John Pepper Clark through his works will continue to live in the hearts and minds of Nigerians. May God Almighty grant him eternal rest”, Gbagi said.