By Wole Adedoyin
THE biggest body of writers in Africa, the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), is set to mark one year anniversary of J.P Clark’s death next month, October 2021. The anniversary is aimed at continual celebration of the legacy, works, life and times of J.P Clark. The event will take place in three Nigerian cities, namely: Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. The anniversary will feature a series of activities ranging from lectures, roundtable discussion, panel discussion, exhibition, among others. The date, time, venues and programme for the celebration will soon be made public.
J.P Clark, poet and playwright and Emeritus Professor of Literature died last year, October 13, 2020 at the age of 85. His death was disclosed in an official statement jointly signed by Prof C.C. Clark and Mr. Ilaye Clark on behalf of the family. His remains were later committed to mother earth in his island country home in Kiagbodo town, Delta State, after a brief lying in state for a few family members. He was given a quiet burial in accordance with his last wish.
He is famous for many poetry collections and plays including Song of a Goat. Clark completed his secondary school education at the Government College, Ughelli, before proceeding to the University of Ibadan to study English. He was a member of the Mbari Club, a hub for intellectuals and socially-committed writers such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Christopher Okigbo, and a host of others.
After his graduation from the University of Ibadan in 1960, he worked as an Information Officer in the Ministry of Information in the old Western Region of Nigeria, as features editor of the Daily Express. Much later he became a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, and served for several years as a Professor of English at the University of Lagos, retiring in 1980. While at the University of Lagos, he was co-editor of the literary magazine Black Orpheus, a Nigerian-based literary journal founded in 1957 by German expatriate editor, scholar and founder of Mbari Club, Ulli Beier. The magazine was essentially created to rouse artistic consciousness for Anglo-phone and Franco-phone writers.
As a post-colonial writer, Clark’s works are steeped in themes of violence and protest, institutional corruption, European colonialism and other forms of inhumanity. Clark wove these themes around indigenous African imagery as well as Western literary tradition.
His poetry works include Casualties: Poems (1966–68), A Decade of Tongues, State of the Union (1981), and Mandela and Other Poems (1988). His plays include the sequels to Song of a Goat, namely The Masquerade (1964) and The Raft (1964) which constitute a trilogy. Others are Ozidi Saga (1966) and The Boat (1981). He also wrote a blistering treatise on his unhappy sojourn to the U.S., entitled America, Their America. * Adedoyin is a writer and Association of Nigerian Authors -ANA PRO (South)