Posted by News Express | 21 June 2019 | 1,152 times
Governor of Bayelsa State, Honourable Seriake Dickson, and other eminent Nigerians were on Thursday named as members of the Dr. Gabriel Okara Foundation.
Some members of the Foundation include, Prof. John Pepper Clark, a great Poet, renowned historian, Prof. Ebiegberi Joe-Alagoa, Prof. Ernest Emenyonu of the Afrikana Studies, University of Michigan, Flint, USA and Dr. Seiyifa Koroye, Special Adviser on Strategy, Documentation and Community Relations.
Speaking during the Exhibition of Dr. Okara’s Life and Works in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson said, though the 98-year-old literary icon had transited, his works and contributions to the world of arts would continually dot the surface of the earth.
Represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (Retd), the Governor noted that, the Foundation would be supported as a viable platform in producing the likes of literary legends as Dr. Okara that would continue to make the state and the country proud.
Governor Dickson said his administration’s policy to honour Bayelsans, who have made significant contributions and sacrifices to the development of the state and beyond informed its decision to bestow the honour of distinguished icon on Dr. Okara, Prof. Clark and Prof Alagoa.
Describing Dr. Okara as a humble and disciplined man whose literary works have served as a source of inspiration to all, over the years, urged the younger generation to imbibe reading culture for self-development.
Making reference to William Shakespeare, he said, the height reached by great men is not attained by sudden flight, but by dint of hard work.
In a keynote address titled, “Gabriel Okara: A Life in Writing”, Professor of Afrikana Studies, University of Michigan-Flint, USA, Dr. Ernest Emenyonu, said Africa has lost its first modern African Poet in the continent.
Dr. Emenyonu extolled the literary giant for challenging the intellect of young Nigerian literary scholars, motivating and pushing them to attaining greater heights.
He also expressed appreciation to Governor Dickson for honouring Dr. Okara by naming the State’s Cultural Centre after him, while alive and called on other state governors to emulate the gesture.
Launching the Gabriel Okara Foundation, daughter of the literary icon, Mrs. Timinipre Okara-Schiller, said a major objective of the Foundation is to protect, preserve and promote Dr. Okara’s legacies.
She disclosed that the foundation would also give hope and succor to indigent children and youths in the society in dire need of the right motivation to excel beyond their immediate environment, as her father cherished and blessed the idea of the foundation.
Mrs. Okara-Schiller said her father contributed immensely to the development of the Ijaw Nation and served the country meritoriously in various capacities, while appreciating Governor Dickson for being a pillar of support and immortalising her father Okara.
Dr. Okara, who passed away in March this year after a brief illness in Port Harcourt, would be laid to rest this weekend in Bomoundi, his hometown, Yenagoa Local Government Area.
•Photo by Michael Owi shows, L-R: Ijaw literary icon, Prof. John Pepper Clark; Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Rear Admiral John Jonah (Retd); first son of late Dr. Gabriel Okara; Dr. Ebi Daniel Okara, and his wife, Mrs. Dorch Okara, during a ceremony to mark the Life & Works of Gabriel Imomotimi Gbaingbain Okara, as part of activities involved in the state burial ceremony of the late Ijaw literary Icon, at the Dr. Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Yenagoa.
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