BY Nduta Waweru, 1:46am July 15, 2018,

Iconic Ghanaian poet, Atukwei Okai, dies at 77

Photo: Ghanaweb

Renowned Ghanaian poet Atukwei Okai, known for his great performances, passed on Friday.

He died at the Korle Bu Teaching hospital, after a short illness. He was 77.

Prof Okai is noted for his excellent poetry recitation and is said to be among the first poetry performers to have emerged in Africa.

He was serving as the Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers Association of Ghana before his death.

Okai, born in Accra in 1941, had an extensive background in education, having graduated with masters degrees in literature and philosophy.

He also earned a number of fellowships and won accolades for his works in literature, including the  University of Ghana Golden Jubilee Distinguished Scholarly Award for his contribution to poetry as well as the Member of the Order of the Volta award.

Okai’s poetry is known to feature diverse topics including Pan-Africanism and are usually rooted in oral tradition, music and dance.

One of his notable books is Mandela the Spear and other Poems, which celebrate the black experience and culture, through the iconic figures at the centre stage of such struggles.

He has also written chants and verses for children.

Tributes have started flowing in from Ghana and all over the world. Former president John Dramani Mahama has eulogized the late as a genius and unique.

He was a unique oral poet of our time; a wordsmith whose art was a unique combination of music and dramatization. ‘Lorgorligi Logarithms’ for which he was well known, tickled our cultural fantasies. I was honoured to have him accept me into the Writer’s Association after the publication of my book, ‘My First Coup D’Etat’.I am yet to know anyone who was not delighted after listening to one of those beautiful poetic renditions by Prof., which we are going to miss forever. Prof., like the eponymous ‘Rosimaya’, you have finished our Friday and wrecked the rest of our week.

Professor Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., said, “He was a genius and a masterful literary artist because…[he] was not afraid to experiment with language, both that of his Ga native tongue and the English language.”

Professor Okai is survived by his wife Beatrice and five daughters.

Last Edited by:Nduta Waweru Updated: July 15, 2018


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