Photos: Prof. Atukwei Okai Laid To Rest
A burial service has been held at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) for one of Ghana’s influential poets, Professor Atukwei Okai.
The service was attended by a number of dignitaries including the President and First Lady, Nana and Rebecca Akufo-Addo, former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama, and the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye.
Hundreds of Ghanaians, clad in prescribed white, also joined the service to celebrate the life of the renowned poet.
The wife and children of the deceased poet paid glowing tributes, describing him as a dedicated husband and loving father.
“Who’s going to call out to us on our way out of the house, saying have a nice day? Who’s going to be our mediator and broker of peace when tempers get high? Who daddy? Our hearts are broken yet we are not broken. We still feel your presence and amazing spirit around us. We do not mourn like those who have no hope. We feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to be under your covering.”
President of the Ghana writer’s association, Kwasi Gyan Apenteng also described the late Prof Okai as a master poet and a great Pan African who made his country proud.
“When Atukwei returned to Ghana from his studies abroad, he took the bull by the horns. There were difficult times but with his force of character, his charm and his simply unnerving nature, he weathered through.”
The Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers Association of Ghana died at the Korle Bu Teaching hospital, Friday, July 13, after a short illness.
Prof Okai, 77, is noted for his excellent poetry recitation and is believed to be one of the first real poetry performers to have emerged from Africa.
His performances on radio and television include an acclaimed 1975 appearance at poetry international at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, where he shared the stage with US poets Stanley Kunitz and Robert Lowell, and Nicolas Guillen of Cuba.
More about Prof Atukwei Okai
Prof Atukwei Okai was born in 1941. In his young days, he published his work under the name John Okai. His work has been described as “politically radical and socially conscious, one of his greatest concerns being Pan-Africanism.“
He earned his M.A (Litt) from the Gorky Literary Institute in 1967. In 1971, he took up a post-graduate scholarship from the University of Ghana to earn his Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in 1971 from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London.
He started lecturing at the University of Ghana in 1971, and became Senior Research Fellow in African Literature at the Institute of African Studies.
He was elected as the first Secretary General of the Pan-African Writers' Association (PAWA) and held that position till he died.
Prof Okai was survived by a wife and five daughters.