“Storyteller of The Week” is a section of Station Magazine that brings to fore the weekly profiling of great storytellers in various creative endeavors. In order to celebrate great people living or dead who have or are making a difference in Africa storytelling.
Today we will celebrate a literary icon Gabriel Okara, a poet, and a Novelist.
Gabriel Imomotimi Gbaingbain Okara is a Nigerian poet, novelist, Nationalist and storyteller, who works have been translated to many languages.
Born on the Bumodi, in Bayelsa State on the 21 of April, Okara died on the 25th of March 2019, Okara is celebrated for his ability to “incorporated African thought, religion, folklore, and imagery into both his verse and prose”
Best known for his experimental novel, The Voice (1964), Okara’s works have been published in The Fisherman’s Invocation (1978) and The Dreamer, His Vision (2005).
Okara’s numerous works have reflected the African culture, thought, religion, folklore, and imagery. His flair for series of contrasts in which symbols are neatly balanced against each other makes his works unique.
Okara, who studied Journalism at Northwestern University, wrote plays and features for radio. In 1953 his poem “The Call of the River Nun” won an award at the Nigerian Festival of Arts.
Okara started his career immediately after his university education as a bookbinder before joining the civil service in the 1960s.
on the 1st of June 1962, Okara attended the African Writers Conference alongside Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, J.P Clark and other great African literary icons.
He worked as the Information Officer for the Eastern Nigerian Government Service before the Nigeria Civil War broke out. During the Civil War, He served, alongside Chinua Achebe, as an ambassador for the Biafra struggle for succession.
He served as the director of the Rivers State Publishing House in Port Harcourt between 1972 to 1980.
Okara, who expressed dismay at the incursion of the western culture on the African continent and it effect on the people’s way of life, juxtaposed the reality of the African culture against the invading European culture in his poem “Piano and Drums”, which he is very famous for.
The University of Port Harcourt hosted Gabriel Okara Literary Festival in 2007, an event that portrays and celebrates the contribution of the literary giant in Nigeria’s literary circle.
His later work includes a collection of poems, The Fisherman’s Invocation (1978), and two books for children, Little Snake and Little Frog (1981) and An Adventure to Juju Island (1992).
Which of Gabriel Okara’s work strike a code in you?. Share with us in the comment section.