Nigerian Poet, John Pepper Clark, Dies At 85

One of Nigeria’s foremost poet and critic of the West African country, John Pepper Clark, is dead.

Clark, whose poem – Casualties – illustrate the horrendous events of the Nigeria-Biafra war, died at the age of 85.

The family to the Nigerian poet and playwright said the literary icon died on Tuesday in a hospital in Lagos where he had been receiving treatment.

Clark was known for his captivating poems which included Abiku and Night Rain. The two were compulsory reading for students of English literature across Africa at different points.

An English graduate from Nigeria’s revered University of Ibadan, where he graduated in 1960, he began his career as a journalist. He worked as a Nigerian government information officer before moving to the defunct Daily Express as a features and editorial writer, according to his biography.

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The deceased was born in Kiagbodo, in the then Bendel State now Delta, to an Ijaw father and Urhobo mother.

He received his early education at the Native Authority School, Okrika, Ofinibenya-Ama, in Burutu LGA and the prestigious Government College in Ughelli, and his BA degree in English at the University of Ibadan.

After graduation from 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, and as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. He served for several years as a professor of English at the University of Lagos, a position from which he retired in 1980. While at the University of Lagos he was co-editor of the literary magazine Black Orpheus.

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Clark held visiting professorial appointments at several institutions of higher learning, including Yale and Wesleyan University in the United States.

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