IAF mourns Atukwei Okai, poet and activist

Luke AlcottGhana, News

The International Authors Forum (IAF) is saddened to learn of the death of Atukwei Okai, the Ghanaian poet, cultural activist and General Secretary of the Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA). IAF pays tribute to Okai’s work as an author and his tireless, lifelong efforts to ensure authors in Africa were represented both in their own countries and internationally. On behalf of its members around the world, IAF expresses its solidarity with PAWA, as it comes to terms with Okai’s loss, offering support to PAWA and its efforts to ensure Okai’s legacy continues.

Okai became the youngest member of the Ghanaian Society of Authors when it was founded in 1957 and went on to become its president. He was Secretary-General of PAWA from 1989 until his death on 13 July 2018. Okai’s writing has been widely published and translated into several languages. IAF was extremely lucky to meet Okai when he travelled from Ghana to attend its AGM in Stockholm in March 2016. This gesture of solidarity with authors around the world was a great honour for IAF and a great example of the dedication Okai showed to his work as a writer and for his fellow writers and their profession. IAF is privileged to have met him.

John Degen, Chair of IAF

“I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Atukwei Okai. His work to provide leadership and direction for all African authors through the Pan African Writers’ Association is a model for the rest of the world.”

Maureen Duffy, President of IAF

“IAF records with regret the death of the distinguished Ghanaian poet and former president of the Pan African Writers Association, Atukwei Okai, at the age of 71 at his home in Ghana. An outstanding performer as well as poet, perhaps his best known work is Mandela the Spear and Other Poems, celebrating not only Mandela himself but also other prominent African figures such as Nadine Gordimer and the politicians Patrice Lamumba and Kwame Nkrumah.”