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18.07.2019 Poem

Ghanaian Poet Gabriel Awuah Mainoo Eulogizes Professor Atukwei Okai

By Gabriel Awuah Mainoo
Professor Atukwei OkaiProfessor Atukwei Okai

Shadows of a passing river

Nsuoba Atukwei

If I had known you were the ancestral river

Beneath the drought of our eyes

I’d have never let a tear out

I wouldn’t have wept as sweetly as your kin will

Reluctantly welcoming a precious gift to death

I will not weep

Not so much as a man will.

If I feel I am too weak a man

I will plant my cowardice in this manful world of yours

And if I see death coming close

I will run slowly

And conceal my cowardice abyss your citadel

Where death’s literacy will end

And then we will mock him in a poem

I will borrow the porcupine’s coat

And look so dangerous to him.

It was in these very tears of the moon

Round this flame, the solemn flute

Beneath this nocturnal bough

That father told us of death’s fear

And its feebleness to swim.

Nsuoba Atukwei

We cannot die of unnatural thirst

Such river like you cannot die

No, you cannot

No―you will not die!

©Gabriel Awuah Mainoo

Atukwei John Okai was a Ghanaian poet, cultural activist and academic. He was the secretary of the Pan African Writers Association and a president of the Ghana Association of Writers. Atukwei is generally received to have been the first real performance poet to emerge from Africa and his works has been called “also politically radical and socially conscious, one of his great concerns being Pan-Africanism”. His performances on radio and television worldwide 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. His famous poems include “sunset sonata”, “The Africa”,” Rosimaya” among others. Prof Atukwei departed on July 13, 2018. He lives on, he never fades away!