John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo Biography / Profile

John Pepper Clark Bekederemo (known as J. P. Clark) was born on born April 6th, 1935, in Kiagbodo, Delta State, Nigeria to an Ijaw father and Urhobo mother.

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo Age

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo is 89 years old.

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo Early Life

Clark received his early education at the Native Authority School, Okrika (Ofinibenya-Ama), in Burutu local government area (then Western Ijaw) and the prestigious Government College in Ughelli, and his BA degree in English at the University of Ibadan. While at the University of Ibadan, he founded The Horn, a magazine of student poetry.

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo Career

After graduating with a degree in English in 1960, he began his career as writer and journalist by working as a Nigerian government information officer and then as the features and editorial writer for the Daily Express in Lagos (1960–1962). A year’s study at Princeton University on a foundation grant resulted in his America, Their America (1964), in which he attacks American middle-class values, from capitalism to black American life-styles. After a year’s research at Ibadan’s Institute of African Studies, he became a lecturer in English at the University of Lagos and coeditor of the literary journal Black Orpheus.

Clark’s verse collections Poems (1962) and A Reed in the Tide (1965) do not display the degree of craftsmanship apparent in the work of his fellow Nigerian Christopher Okigbo; but in his best poems his sensual imagination makes successful use of the patterns of traditional African life. His Casualties: Poems 1966–68 (1970) is concerned primarily with the Nigerian civil war. Other poetry collections include A Decade of Tongues (1981), State of the Union (1985, as J.P. Clark Bekederemo), and Mandela and Other Poems (1988).

Of his plays, the first three (published together under the title Three Plays in 1964) are tragedies in which individuals are unable to escape the doom brought about by an inexorable law of nature or society. Song of a Goat (performed 1961), a family tragedy, was well received throughout Africa and Europe for its dramatic skill and the poetic quality of its language. The Masquerade (performed 1965) again portrays a family tragedy, but it is The Raft (performed 1978) that is considered to be his finest piece of dramatic writing. The situation of four men helplessly adrift on a raft in the Niger River suggests both the human predicament and the dilemma of Nigeria in the modern world. Clark’s characterization is convincing and his symbolic setting richly allusive.

A more experimental work, Ozidi (performed in the early 1960s; pub. 1966), is a stage version of a traditional Ijo ritual play, which in a native village would take seven days to perform. Like Yoruba folk opera, it is alive with music, dancing, mime, and spectacle. Clark also produced a film (with Francis Speed; The Ozidi of Atazi [1972]) and an English translation of this Ijo epic. 

The film, directed by Frank Speed in close collaboration with Clark, records highlights of a seven-day festival in which villagers from the Niger Delta re-enact Ozidi's fate. The Boat, The Return Home, and Full Circle, each performed in 1981, are published in The Bikoroa Plays (1985). His Collected Plays appeared in 1992. Clark's series of essays on African poetry have been collected in The Example of Shakespeare (1970). In May 2015, he founded the Edwin Clark University (ECU) located in Kiagbodo, Delta State.

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo Personal Life

J. P. Clark is married to Ebun Odutola and their union is blessed with children. His wife is an accomplished teacher, researcher, author and leader of thought. She was also a pioneer in theatre studies, being the first Nigerian lecturer at the University of Ibadan in what was to become the Theatre Arts department, which then birthed at least forty others across the country.

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo Awards

In 1991, Clark received the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award for literary excellence and saw publication, by Howard University, for his two definitive volumes, The Ozidi Saga and Collected Plays and Poems (1958-1988).

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo Net Worth

His net worth is not available.

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