Friday, October 16, 2020 5:16 pm
By Nehru Odeh
In accordance with his wish in a poem entitled, My Last Testament, renowned Nigerian poet and playwright, Professor John Pepper Clark, popularly known as J.P. Clark, was on Thursday buried at his country home in Kiagbodo, Delta State, less than three days after his demise.
He was buried exactly 11am after a brief lying in state witnessed by few family members and prayers said by Pastor Jolomi Guoti and Pastor Ken Okochu of Trinity House (representatives of Pastor Ituah Iguodalo}.
The late lyrical poet’s remains had earlier landed Kiagbodo Town at about 8:48pm, before it was conveyed in a wooden boat to his house at JP Clark Creek Island in the outskirts of the community.
Youths in the community later carried the casket that the Delta State Government Ambulance had conveyed from the Asaba International Airport to the island.
Clark, who was born on 6 April 1934, was one of Nigeria’s foremost lyrical poets and playwrights. The writer who was also known for his controversial travelogue, America, Their America, a book about his experiences in the United States, which he criticized for its crass materialism, obsession with sex and ignorance about people of other places, passed on on Tuesday, 13 October 2020 after a brief illness. He was known for poems such as The Casualties, Abiku, Night Rain, to mention a few and plays such as Song of a Goat, Ozidi Saga, The Raft etc.
However, before his demise, after a distinguished career as a poet, playwright and academic spanning more than six decades, he had earlier written about how he wished to be buried in a poem entitled, My Last Testament.
In that poem Clark published in his collected poems entitled, Full Tide, he had stated how he wished to be buried. He had said he shouldn’t be taken to a mortuary or a church, whether he dies in or out of town. But rather he should be taken home to his own,”to lines and tunes, tested on the waves of time. He also said it should be done in three days. “If Moslems do it in a day,/ You certainly can do it in three days / Avoiding blood and waste,” he said. He also left some words of advice for his children.
MY LAST TESTAMENT
(A POEM BY JP CLARK)
This is to my family
Do not take me to a mortuary,
Do not take me to a church,
Whether I die in or out of town,
But take me home to my own, and
To lines and tunes, tested on the waves
Of time, let me lie in my place
On the Kiagbodo River.
If Moslems do it in a day,
You certainly can do it in three,
Avoiding blood and waste,
And whatever you do after,
My three daughters and my son
By the only wife I have,
Do not fight over anything
I may be pleased to leave behind.
The above poem is culled from JP Clark’s book,, FULL TIDE (Collected Poems),Page 385.