Tourism Ministry pays tribute to Professor Atukwei Okai

Accra, The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts has extended its warm condolences to the family of the late Professor Atukwei Okai, Secretary General of the Pan African Writers Association for their loss.

The ministry on behalf of the government and people of Ghana, stated that they were behind the family of the late professor in this trying moment.

In a release signed by Mr V. Otto Lagnmagne, the Acting Chief Director of the Ministry and issued to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday in Accra, said tragedy had once again hit the nation as most iconic writer-performer of poetry and cultural ambassador, Professor Atukwei Okai, has passed on.

It said Professor Okai died, at age 77, at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra on 13 July, 2018 after a short illness.

It said the professor for 47 uninterrupted years, succeeded in transforming poetry from a dry, uninteresting classroom subject avoided by many a student, into one of the most widely embraced art forms pursued as a career by talented and ambitious youths.

With his first collection, The Oath of the Fontomfrom,’ published in 1971, though, arguably, his best known collection, ‘Logorligi Logarithms’ in 1974 and later works such as ‘Mandela the Spear’, ‘A Slim Queen In A Palanquin’ and ‘A Pawpaw On A Mango Tree’, among others, he established himself as one of Africa’s most influential writers and artists.

The release said the musicality of his poetry and his style of juxtaposing his native Ga and English made poetry come alive, endearing him to both, young and old.

It said the Ministry testified that Ghanaian culture had been made richer because of him.

He Africanised the language of contemporary poetry.

Indeed, Atukwei Okai was not just an extraordinary wordsmith; culturally he was an institution. In him all the beauty, the pomp and grace of poetry dwelt. Atukwei Okai became the other name for poetry in Ghana, spanning generations of younger poets who have learned to tread the path that he trod, it said.

It said Ghana would forever remain indebted to him for being one of the nation’s cultural experts, an ambassador who represented Ghana in many parts of the world through the translation of his works into several languages, including Russian, Spanish, German, Arabic, French and Italian.

The release described the late professor as an unapologetically Pan Africanist, a fearless social commentator and a national critic.

As a cultural activist, he was one of the pillars on whom the Ghana Culture Forum rested, a movement, whose efforts are contributing to pushing culture from the periphery into the mainstream of national development.

It said much earlier, in the 1980s, Professor Okai invested his energies into growing the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) into a creative force.

Throughout Africa, great minds were watching with admiration his works and performance. No wonder that in the fullness of time when, in 1989, writers of Africa got together under the banner of the Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA), they did not look beyond Ghana, as its headquarters, and Professor Atukwei Okai as its first Secretary-General, a position he held till his death.

It assured that the Ministry was behind the family in thought and prayer and would be in consultation with the family and other stakeholders in the Artistic and Cultural fraternity, to roll out plans to give this great gift to Africa a befitting celebration of life.

Source: Ghana News Agency