JP Clark (1935-2020): Passage of the Writer-Scholar

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John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo, poet and dramatist, who occupies a prominent position in the Nigerian literary firmament, passed away 13th October, 2020.

We at IAS-UI join the rest of the country and indeed the world to celebrate his life and work. Known for his lyricism in poetry and for his exploration of traditional Ijaw themes, motifs, and sceneries in his classically structured plays, JP Clark made a lasting contribution as well to folkloristics in his bilingual transcription and translation of the Ijaw epic The Ozidi Saga, a project that emanated from the film and recording he had made while a Research Fellow at our Institute in 1963. Indeed, he was one of our own, working in our Institute to set a standard for ethnographic filmmaking, and not just as a 'writer-in-residence'. He helped introduce dance forms from the Niger Delta to the repertoire of our Institute’s curation of performance offerings from diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria and Africa, especially the Urhobo Ikelike Dance.

We wish his family the fortitude to bear the loss, even as we dwell on and appreciate the lessons from the superb body of work he produced as poet, dramatist, journalist, critic, researcher, filmmaker, and scholar.

A condolence register in his honour has been opened at the entrance to Drapers Hall.