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  • Mandela the Spear and Other Poems

  • By Okai, Atukwei
  • Pages 150
  • ISBN 9780992187538
  • The strength of Mandela the Spear and other Poems lies in Okaiís burning desire to celebrate the black experience and culture, through the iconic figures who symbolize those struggles and triumphs. Thus, not surprisingly, one encounters names like Mandela, Nadine Gordimer, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, to name a few. Okai has long established himself as one of the towering figures in the field of modern African poetry in English. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of a vigorous reinvention of the poetic genre that revolutionized the poet/audience relationship, changed the mode of expression from scriptography to narratology, and the role of the audience from that of passive reception to active participation.

    About the Author:
    Atukwei Okai was born in Accra, Ghana, in 1941 and was educated at the Gambaga Native Authority School, Nalerigu Middle Boys’ School (both in Northern Ghana), Methodist Middle Boys’ School (Accra) and Accra High School, before going to Moscow in 1961, where he earned his M.A. (Litt.) from the Maxim Gorky Literary Institute in 1967. He obtained his Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree in 1971 from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London, U.K. In 1968 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (U.K); in 1979 he was awarded Honorary Fellowship in Writing of the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, Iowa, U.S.A. In 1981 he was elected to Honorary Membership of the National Syndicate of Spanish Writers and to Associate Membership of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). A Fellow and Past President of the Ghana Association of Writers (GWA), he is the Secretary- General of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA). He has taught at the University of Ghana, Legon, since 1971 as lecturer in Russian literature at the Department of Modern Languages and from 1984 till 2001 as Senior Research fellow in African Literature at the Institute of African Studies. Professor Okai is Head of the GaDangme Education Department at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana. Okai’s poems have been translated into several languages, including Russian, Spanish, German, Arabic, French, Italian and have appeared in anthologies and several prominent international journals such as The Atlantic Monthly, the New African, African Arts ( UCLA), Black World, Literary Cavalcade, The New American Review, and Universitas. Okai’s first collection of poems, Flowerfall, was published in June 1969 by Writers Forum in London. His second volume of poems, The Oath of The Fontomfrom and Other Poems was published in New York, U.S.A., in June 1971 by Simon and Schuster. Atukwei Okai was awarded the Iqbal Centenary Commemorative Gold Medal by the Government of Pakistan, ‘in appreciation of valuable contribution to the Birth Centenary Celebrations Seminar on Allama Dr. Mohammed Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan’ in 1979. The International Lotus Prize (and Gold Medal) for Afro-Asian Literature of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association in 1980 acknowledged ‘the artistic merits of his work.’ The C. Marconi Gold Medal of the National Council for Research of Italy in 1986 recognized ‘his contribution to the International Study Seminar on the New African Literature in Rome’. The Oath of the Fontomfrom and Other Poems and Lorgorligi Logarithms and Other Poems won the Ghana Book Award of the Ghana Book Development Council in 1979 ‘in recognition of his signal contribution to the development of national literature. The ECRAG FLAGSTAR award citation in 1991 noted that ‘You have fought gallantly to place writers on a high pedestal as a driving force behind the Pan African Writers’ Association and the Ghana Association of Writers. You have contributed a lot to the study and development of African poetry and African literature in general’. Okai was presented with The Ushio Publication Culture Award of Japan, in 1993. In 1998 the University of Ghana Golden Jubilee Distinguished Scholarly Award did ‘acknowledge his outstanding contribution to the development of African poetry’. In July, 2007, The National Award of Member of The Order of The Volta was conferred on Professor Atukwei Okai.