Professor Atukwei Okai, the Ghanaian poet and author, has died in Accra following a short illness. He was 77.

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Prof Akilakpa Sawyerr on behalf of the Odoi and Okai families issued a statement announcing the demise of the Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers Association of Ghana.

He was survived by his wife and five daughters.

“The Odoi and Okai families of Asere, Ga Mashie in Greater Accra Region and the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) announce with regret the passing of Prof Atukwei Okai, which sad event occurred today July 13, 2018, after a short illness," the statement said.

“Prof Okai was a national icon, a former Government Minister and Secretary General of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA). He died at age 77 and was survived by his wife Mrs Beatrice Okai and five daughters. Funeral arrangements will be announced later. May his soul rest in peace," the statement further noted.

His early work was published under the name John Okai. With his poems rooted in the oral tradition, he is generally acknowledged to have been the first real performance poets to emerge from Africa, and his work has been called "also politically radical and socially conscious, one of his great concerns being Pan-Africanism".

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His performances on radio and television worldwide include an acclaimed 1975 appearance at Poetry International at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, where he shared the stage with US poets Stanley Kunitz and Robert Lowell, and Nicolas Guillen of Cuba.