Nigeria: My Last Testament - J.P Clark's Premonition of His Own Death

16 October 2020

Perhaps, none who passed-on had given better instructions about how his or her remains will be handled than Prof. J. P Clark. His poem, "My Last Testament" speaks for itself, needing little or no analysis. It is an instruction to his family - don't take my body to the mortuary, or to the church, he said.

Take me to my roots. Don't keep my body for more than three days. Do not shed blood for me, and don't quarrel over whatever material things I have left behind for you.

These are clear instructions, issued by a clear-minded poet. And from all indications, the family did the bidding of the iconic and enigmatic poet - as we write this, it is likely Prof. J. P Clark's remains are being laid to rest across the Kiagbodo River, precisely three days after he breathed last. Here is the poem, My Last Testament:

My Last Testament


This is to my family

Do not take me to a mortuary,

Do not take me to a church,

Whether I die in or out of town,

But take me home to my own, and

To lines and tunes, tested on the waves

Of time, let me lie in my place

On the Kiagbodo River.

If Moslems do it in a day,

You certainly can do it in three,

Avoiding blood and waste,

And whatever you do after,

My three daughters and my son

By the only wife I have,

Do not fight over anything

I may be pleased to leave behind

(From Full Tide, (collected poems), page 385).


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