Renowned Poet and Novelist, Gabriel Okara, Dies Just Before 98th Birthday

Gabriel Imomotimi Gbaingbain Okara, a poet, novelist and playwright, has died at 97 years — four weeks before his 98th birthday.

The veteran playwright died in his sleep on Monday at his residence at Okaka Estate in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, after a brief illness.

He is known for several collections of poems and novels such as Piano and Drums, You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed, Once Upon a Time, The Fisherman’s Invocation among others.

Reported to be the first renowned English Language black African poet and the first African modernist writer, Okara was born on April 24, 1921 in his hometown Bomoundi, Bayelsa.

Okara, who wrote for influential national and international journals, drew inspiration from the works of Williams Shakespeare and other classical writers during his days at Government College Umuahia in the 1930s and 40s.

He also attended Yaba Higher College and Northwestern University, US.

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