ADEKEYE ADEBAJO: Africa loses its protean, experimental poet John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo
John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo, the Nigerian poet and playwright and pioneering postindependence writer, died on October 13, aged 85. He published 10 collections of poems, seven plays, one book of essays and a travelogue.
Born on April 6 1935 in the oil-producing Niger Delta during British colonial rule, Clark attended native administration schools, an experience that later shaped his anticolonial outlook. A brilliant student and voracious reader, he attended Nigeria’s premier University of Ibadan, where he studied English. Clark became the first editor of the university’s poetry journal, The Horn, which published contemporaries such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Christopher Okigbo.