The late Nigerian poet Ikeogu Oke died on Saturday, 24th November, in Abuja, from an undisclosed illness. However, before then he had become inactive on social media and naturally withdrawn from friends.
The only other premonition of his death was an Epitaph he wrote in September, 2 months ago which read.
“Here lies a man who loved virtue and art and gave to both his fortunes and his heart” (Ikeogu Oke, 1967-)
Nigerians have been mourning the 2017 NLNG Prize winner since yesterday. Even President Muhmmadu Buhari has eulogized the poet, saying “Ikeogu Oke, enriched Nigeria’s literary genre”.
However, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the author of Heresaid, his award-winning book.
- Ikeogu obtained a Master’s Degree in English and Literary Studies from UNN Nsukka.
- Ikeogu lived and worked in Calabar, while he was a student of University of Calabar. He made many friends from Calabar and was still friends with them till his death.
- Ikeogu was a pensioner of PHCN (formerly NEPA), where he voluntarily resigned because he couldn’t stand the corruption and unprofessional practises prevalent in the Nigerian civil service. Having been vocal about such issues in his workplace made him more enemies than friends, and so he left the organization and became a pensioner till his death.
- Ikeogu loved music and could play many musical instruments such as guitar, piano etc. He wrote many songs, which he always sang to his preferred audience in his deep sultry voice.
- Ikeogu loved children and has written and published a few children’s poetry and songs.
- Ikeogu was very close friends to Dr Author Nwankwo, writer and Chancellor of Eastern Mandate Union. He fondly called Arthur ‘Chancellor’ and sometimes spent nights at Dr Arthur’s New Haven home in the mid and late 2000s.
- Ikeogu worked briefly as an editor for 234Next Newspapers and left to Abuja before the newspaper organization went into extinction.
- Ikeogu always said to friends and family that he would be a great man, sometimes it sounded arrogant, but it was because he knew what qualities he possessed and the value of his literary works. His 37Million Naira NLNG win and several published works locally and internationally, definitely validated those statements of his.
- Ikeogu was married to his first wife, whom he met while running his Master’s in Nsukka. The marriage though brief, produced a daughter, who was the apple of his eyes. Ikeogu’s current wife is his second wife and she had 3 kids for him.
- Ikeogu was briefly engaged to a female Nigerian journalist, who he had known for over 18 years. Though the relationship eventually didn’t lead to marriage, they remained friends ever since.
RIP Ikeogu Oke.