Former President John Dramani Mahama has eulogized the late Professor Atukwei Okai, describing him as a genius and a unique oral poet.
Prof. Okai passed away on Friday after a short illness at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
The former President in a statement said Prof. Okai will be remembered as “a genius whose musical poetry was not only spectacular in imagery and clever wordplay, but also natural in how it captured the cadences and rhythm of speech.”
“He was a unique oral poet of our time; a wordsmith whose art was a unique combination of music and dramatization. ‘Lorgorligi Logarithms’ for which he was well known, tickled our cultural fantasies. I was honoured to have him accept me into the Writer’s Association after the publication of my book, ‘My First Coup D’Etat’.I am yet to know anyone who was not delighted after listening to one of those beautiful poetic renditions by Prof., which we are going to miss forever.Prof., like the eponymous ‘Rosimaya’, you have finished our Friday and wrecked the rest of our week,” Mr. Mahama added.
Prof Atukwei Okai was a former President of the Ghana Writers Association and was General-Secretary of the Pan-African Writers’ Association.
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.
He was survived by a wife and five daughters.