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atukei bg


Professor Atukwei Okai, FRSA, MV

Secretary General of PAWA


ATUKWEI OKAI was born in Accra, Ghana, in 1941 and was educated at the Gambaga Native Authority School, Nalerigu Middle Boys’ School (both in Northern Ghana), Methodist Middle Boys’ School (Accra) and the Accra High School, before going to Moscow in 1961, where he earned his M.A. (Litt.) from the Gorky Literary Institute in 1967.  He obtained his Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree in 1971 from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London, U.K.

In 1968 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, (UK); In 1981 he was elected to Honorary Membership of the National Syndicate of Spanish Writers and to Associate Membership of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).  A Fellow and Past President of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), he is the Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA).

He has taught at the University of Ghana, Legon, since 1971 as lecturer in Russian literature at the Department of Modern Languages and since 1984 as Senior Research Fellow in African Literature at the Institute of African Studies. Professor Okai currently teaches at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana.


Okai’s poems have been translated into several languages and have appeared in anthologies and several prominent international journals. 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 Stanley Kunitz and Robert Lowell of the United States and Nicholas Guillen of Cuba.


His published works are Flowerfall (poems), (1969, by Writers’ Forum. London); The Oath Of The Fontomfrom and Other Poems, (1971, by Simon and Schuster, NewYork, U.S.A.);  Lorgorligi Logarithms and Other Poems (1975, by Ghana Publishing Corporation, Tema, Ghana). The others are The Anthill In The Sea (verses and chants for African children) (1988); Freedom Symphony: Selected and New Love Poems (2008); Mandela The Spear and other poems (2008) – all by the Ghana Publishing Company, Tema, Ghana.


Okai is a recipient of many national and international awards, such as The lqbal Centenary Commemorative Gold Medal, (1979) The International Lotus prize (and Gold Medal) (1980) and The C. Marconi Gold Medal of Italy (1986). Others are The Ghana Book Award (1979) “in recognition of his signal contribution to the development of national literature” and the ECRAG FLAGSTAR (1991). Okai was presented with The Ushio Publication Culture Award of Japan, in 1993.  In 1998 the University of Ghana Golden Jubilee Distinguished Scholarly Award did “acknowledge his outstanding contribution to the development of African poetry”.


In June, 2007, the National Award of Member of The Order of The Volta was conferred on Prof. Atukwei Okai by the State.


At their first Anniversary Celebration on 4th October, 2008, in Accra, the MTN Company decorated Atukwei Okai (alongside two musicians, a football club and the world famous footballer, Micheal Essien) with an award: One of Ghana’s Finest Icons. Okai’s citation read: “Your literary works have not only inspired all generations but also positively projected the name of Ghana and Africa across the globe. And for this we are pleased to honour you as One Of Ghana’s Finest Icons.” It carried a prize money of GH¢10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Ghana Cedis).


Okai and his wife Beatrice are blessed with five wonderful daughters.