Tribute to JP Clark: JP, Our JP
By Professor Dele Layiwola
Emeritus Professor JP Clark, as he is well known; a foremost poet laureate, will be sorely missed by his friends, associates and critics as well.
What is less well known is that he was actually born in December 1933 and not April 1935 as is now presently listed.
But, the harmless error about the date fortuitously indicated by his elementary school teacher can only bring more fame rather than controversy to this inimitable artiste of class, culture and letters from Kiagbodo and Eruwaren clans of the Niger Delta of Nigeria.
A classicist, playwright and essayist of note, JP, like his great friend, Chris Okigbo, cannot be missed in a crowd.
Beyond his physical size, he always stood tall to assert himself and the principles for which he stood.
He is indeed an ancestor who may not be forgotten in a hurry. He left barely five weeks on the heels of the demise of his fond cousin, Professor David Tinakpoevwan Okpako of Owahwa and Eruwaren clans.
Both their mothers came from the same compound in Eruwaren where JP’s ‘The Women’s Revolt’ was set. JP’s mother Poro, and Okpako’s mother Obien, were women activists from a famous family in Eruwaren.
Prof Okpako discussed this with me on a family visit on Sunday September 6, to my great delight, only to cross the veil on the afternoon of Monday, September 7. What a life! And now JP in tow.
May his noble and compassionate soul find a perfect balance in the higher realms.
‘In requiescat in pace’ dear teacher and friend.
May Aunty Ebun, their children and the entire family be comforted.
Dele Layiwola is a professor of Cultural Studies, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan