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Alaibe mourns Okara, says Nigeria lost a literary legend

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Gabriel Okara

Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, yesterday paid glowing tributes to the late Gabriel Imomotimi Okara.

Alaibe in a statement said: “Death, the mysterious intruder with cold hands-has struck again. Without any courtesy, it has taken away our literary father, poet, novelist and writer extraordinaire, a man of inspiration and fertile mind, a storehouse of inexhaustible vocabulary. He died four weeks to his 98th birthday.”

Mourning the deceased literary icon, he described the late Okara as a father figure and friend, saying he was one of Nigeria’s best in the literary space.

“A forerunner and a pioneer in many aspects, he wrote what could be described as indigenous literature-a genre of poetry and other literary works that Africans, Nigerians and indeed the Niger Delta people can easily identify with and appreciate. This stood him out of the crowd of intellectual giants.

“Described by some writers as the first modernist poet of Anglophone Africa, our beloved Okara belonged to the very top in his class with poetic ideas gushing from his inner recesses effortlessly.

“He was among the first to launch Nigeria into the international literary arena with brands of poetry and stories that were unmistakably indigenous, but very outstanding,” he said.

Alaibe also pointed out that his personal encounters with Okara were always humbling, adding his simple lifestyle contrasted with his broad worldview and global recognition.

“In many ways, he was an inspiration. His rise from the dust of his career to the top where he rubbed shoulders with the best across the world can hardly be captured in words.


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