J. P Clark has been one of the big four, the quartet, that gave Nigeria to the world as a land of literature. With his friends, Christopher Okigbo, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, he stood as a pathfinder for literary creativity, making Nigeria the envy of other Africans and the world.
J. P Clark never abandoned his post as a writer. He was always producing, in good and bad times. No season passed without a new play or collection of poems coming from him. His loyalty to literature as a vocation has been quite phenomenal.
Although quite self-effacing, he was also quite a prime mover and activist. J. P Clark was the other friend who went with Christopher Okigbo to bring Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna back home from Ghana to face the music after the failure of the January 15, 1966 coup.
J. P Clark organized his other colleagues., Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka to meet General Babangida to plead mercy for Major General Mamman Vatsa, after the aborted coup for which the latter was executed.
J. P Clark was a Poet and dramatist who never allowed himself to be distracted from his chosen vocation. He let his poetry and plays speak for him. He was quite an exemplar in this regard, deserving every accolade from a worshipful younger generation.
J. P Clark treated critics and admirers with magisterial distancing. As one of his well-known critics, I am obliged to report that he was generally a very civil elder who did not over demonstrate his likes and dislikes. He was a balanced Homer who did justice to his Ijaw roots and Niger Delta provenance.
A very unapologetic Nigerian, J. P Clark wished, in his own way, for true justice for every citizen. All his life, he enjoyed a special halo as a writer. He received the National Merit Award as proof of the respect of his colleagues. It makes it simply insignificant that he was not given a National honour.
J. P Clark will always be remembered for taking poetry very seriously and making it a mark of distinction for anyone to be addressed as a poet. Even in these times of the pandemic, he deserves a truly festive sendoff. May his soul rest in perfect peace.