By Akeem Lasisi (PUNCH, Nigeria)
The Christopher Okigbo Foundation rallied family and friends and of legendary poet, Christopher Okigbo, to the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), where the 50th anniversary of his death has been marked.
The legacies of poet and activist, Christopher Okigbo (pix, above), were celebrated in Ibadan this week, when the Okigbo Foundation held the 50th anniversary of his death.
Okigbo, author of acclaimed poetry volumes, Labyrinth and Path of Thunder, died on the battle field, fighting on the side of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War.
At the event held at the University of Ibadan, writers, especially Okigbo’s contemporaries such as Profs. Wole Soyinka, JP Clark, Chukwuemeka Ike and Dan Izevbaye, noted that his contribution to the growth of literature in the country and beyond was enormous.
Some of them, however, situated his adventures in the country’s struggle for identity, justice and progress.
According to Soyinka, Okigbo lived his life on conviction. The Nobel laureate said that he was not just an activist, but also someone who put his life on the line.
He also described Okigbo as a “multi-variant and a renaissance person.
Expressing worries that Nigeria was still stranded in the kind of situation in which Okigbo died, he said, “It’s telling that his anniversary is taking place at a critical period for us as a nation. We are confronting a choice brought up by mis-governance, leadership alienation and lack of opportunities. We are moving slowly, intermittently out of a menace called Boko Haram but which is now being succeeded by cattle rearers who feel they own every square inch of the nation.”
At the programme attended by Profs. Kole Omotosho, Remi Raji and The NEWS publisher, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, Soyinka expressed regret about the Indigenous People of Biafra issue, as well as the military’s reaction, saying there must be a way out of what he called the periodic cycle of stupidity that overtakes the country again and again.
He also condemned the militarisation of the country and asked the military to probe the video of IPOB youths being punished by soldiers, as they were seen lying in mud.
In his keynote address, Izevbaye highlighted aspects of Okigbo’s life as an accomplished poet and gave an insight into how musical his poetry is.
According to him, Okigbo was a cosmopolitan poet as evident in the Greek and Latin that echo in his works. He said his forage into war was an act of heroism, adding that the deceased embraced the gun because he knew the limitation of poetry when it comes to missiles and grenades.
Also at the event were the Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Chief Alake Adeyemo; Okigbo’s wife, Ambassador Judith Attah, revered publisher, Chief Joop Berkhout, and Chief Alex Ajayi, who was Okigbo’s principal at Fiditi Grammar School.
The foundation’s head, Mrs. Obiageli Okigbo, who was supported by a former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Dr. Wale Okediran, to organise the programme, noted that several events and projects were being carried out to propagate Okigbo’s ideals.
Courtesy of The Punch (Nigeria) - slightly modified here