An Evening with J.P. Clark

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By Japhet Alakam

It was indeed an experience of a lifetime last week at Didi museum, Lagos as the proprietor of the five star gallery of contemporary arts, Chief Newton Jibunoh rolled out drums in honour of one of Africa’s finest poets, playwrights and scholars, John Pepper Clark.

The event tagged , Poetry and Jazz with JP Clark  which held in the court yard of the museum according to Jibunoh was packaged in honour “ of one of my best friends, J.P.Clark, for his birthday and what he represents for the art industry”.

It was a well attended event as notable Nigerians, friends, colleagues, lovers of art and former students of the celebrant from all walks of life took out time to celebrate with the host and the celebrant, who no doubt deserves all the accolades heaped on him on the ground of  his giant strides in the field of knowledge production and dissemination.

Real night of poetry

Interestingly, the event turned out to be one that will be remembered for a long time to come as  members of the audience, especially Clark’s huge admirers were treated to a real night of poetry laced with  special jazz rendition by the legendary performer, Jimi Solanke.

Notable personalities graced the evening. They  include:  the  celebrant, Prof J.P Clark and wife, Prof. Ebun Clark, Prof. Omololu Soyembo, Chief Akin Disu, Sam Amuka, Chief J.K. Randle, Erelu Abiola Dosumu, Mr Ben Bruce, Ambassador Clark, Chief Inie Iniakhere, Tam Fiofori, Chief Mrs. Francesca Emmanuel and Sonny Irabor who moderated.

*L-R, The host, Chief Newton Jibunoh, the celebrant, Prof. J.P.Clark and others at the event

The night kicked off with a special rendition of one of the newest poems by J.P Clark titled One man and the desert by Adanma Jibunoh, the grand daughter of Newton Jibunoh. In a special tone, the little Jibunoh recited the lines of the poem devoted to Jibunoh’s desert adventure and  avid campaign on desertification and global change.

This was followed by a special

performance of  South Africa’s Zulu dance by the Atilogu dance group and thereafter the students of Pachelli School for the blind rendered some of the poems by J.P Clark. The students ably led by their teachers showed the stuff they were made of as they recited many poems to the delight of the audience.

Some of the poems read include; The climate change, The order of our time, The Vulture choice, Night Rain, Victoria Island, One Country and Casualties.

After the students, Jimi Solanke showed the other side of his life when he took to the stage and presented a special rendition of  J.P Clark’s poem, After the Night followed by Lindsay Barret.

This was followed with another  recitation by some guests in attendance. But the star attraction was the one by the anchor man, Soni Irabor who hilariously  exhibited his reading prowess when he read a poem titled Dinner, a poem that talks about  Lagos life and its traffic problem.

Jimi Solanke then came up with a jazz hour for the dinner and at the end of the jazz hour, the students of the Grange School Ikeja took over with beautiful rendition of selected poems by J.P. Clark. But  it was the vice Principal of the school, Helen Gordon who brought out the pictorial value of poetry reading with her rendition of one of the famous poems by  J.P. Clark titled Casualties.

After this rendition, Jimi Solanke came back with an Urhobo dance which changed the mood of the night as the dance company  thrilled the audience with their spectacular dance steps.

In his remarks, Jibunoh who expressed satisfaction with the quality attendance that graced the event said that the moment was his own way of celebrating the birthday of his special friend. He described J.P Clark’s poems “as poems that have always left me in emotional transition between reality and sanity”, adding that “the poem  written for him by J.P. Clark which was recited by my grand daughter is one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me”.

On his part, Prof. J.P.Clark commended Chief Jibunoh for the wonderful honour done to him and thanked all for coming to honour him.

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