RAWLINGS’ TRIBUTE: MEDIOCRITY DID NOT EXIST IN ATUKWEI OKAI’S DICTIONARY

Atukwei Okai’s impact on the Ghanaian literary
climate was and will remain phenomenal. As a poet, academic and culturist,
Atukwei Okai rose above it all, perching at a dizzying height, dictating the
pace as he chose fit.

The name Atukwei Okai was synonymous with
everything literary in our part of the world. His ubiquitous and effervescent
presence over several decades at myriad national, local and even smaller events
left a memorable mark on many, especially the youth, most of whom have now
grown into their 40s, 50s and 60s.

Atukwei strove for excellence and that is
clearly patented in his biography – the adolescent Ga boy from ‘Gambaga’ was
daring enough to become the youngest member of the Ghana Association of Writers
at the age of 16.

Having read widely and with a great
appreciation of the spirituality of language, Atukwei was not intimidated by
the Queen’s English. He took advantage of the vast literary skills he had
acquired through reading to write and impart his knowledge through written and
performance poetry not only in English but also in Ga, his mother tongue. He
was not afraid to create words to exact the necessary attention to his works.

So, from radio and television to the stage and
at national ceremonies and major international platforms, tall, lanky Atukwei
Okai floated his poetry in a humorous fashion to send a serious message. He
carved his path along his own Lorgorligi logarithm.

Atukwei Okai was a perfectionist and a
stickler for what was right. He lived by the highest standards and that shone
during his short stint as Greater Accra Regional Secretary in 1982, when the
Greater Accra region was carved out of the Eastern Region under Greater Accra
Region Law (PNDCL 26) in July 1982.

It was six long months for Atukwei. He made
his presence felt in more ways than one and his prim and proper ways were never
in short supply. But my friend Atukwei was cast more to practise politics through
his literary works. He impacted more on society through poetry and his roles at
the Ghana Association of Writers and later the Pan-African Writers Association.

Tall, simple and confident, Atukwei sold a
brand of poetry skill that will be difficult to emulate.

My family fondly remembers him for all the
days he came visiting, showing interest in each member’s welfare. He was a warm
personality behind that firm and striking posture.

Atukwei Okai was a man whose life was
dedicated to the literary enrichment of not only Ghanaians but Africans. A man
in whose dictionary, mediocrity didn’t exist. He was a man whose writings were
as dynamic and animated as his oral presentations.

Atukwei, on behalf of Nana and our adult
children, Zanetor, Yaa Asantewaa, Amina and Kimathi, I bid you farewell. Your
eulogies are in all your written and unwritten works that have been recorded
for posterity.

Rest in perfect peace.

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