The Coordinator of Development Communication Centre (DEV-COM), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Jenkeri Zakari Okwori, a renowned theatre scholar who was among the survivors of the auto crash that claimed the lives of Professor Sam Kafewo, Dr. Martins Ayegba, and a postgraduate student of the University, has died in the hospital.
Nico News gathered that Jenks (as he was popularly called) died in Garki Specialist Hospital, Abuja, 6pm on Wednesday, 12 February, while plans to fly him to a German Hospital on Thursday, 13 February, had been concluded.
It was learnt that after the ghastly motor accident occurred on Friday, 7 February, Jenks was taken to the Hospital alongside other occupants of the bus, David Adoku (the DEV-COM Centre cameraman), and the ABU Alumni Association bus driver who survived, and was responding to treatment but had been complaining of severe pains in his neck.
The Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), the umbrella body of Lecturers in the Theatre Arts Departments of Nigerian universities and his friends, had intensified efforts to raise funds to fly him to Germany for urgent medical attention.
Late Jenks was one of the brains behind Development Communication Studies in Nigeria, introduced the Centre in Ahmadu Bello University, attached to the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, where he was the pioneer Coordinator.
He had been teaching Participatory/Development Communication at the ABU since 1984 and was an experienced actor, director, and theatre producer, producing and acting in various television programmes even as he won many national and international fellowships and awards.
Jenks had also served in various development committees, facilitated as well as being a resource person in several workshops on development communication, capacity building, strategic planning, democracy monitoring, advocacy, and theatre for development; he had a very good sense of humour, continuously challenging stakeholders to tackle sensitive issues and move beyond stereotypes and resistances.
Reacting on the sad incident from Morocco, where he is attending the International Publishing and Book Fair in Casablanca, the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma said he was devastated because Jenks was an intelligent and reliable theatre artist, a very close friend of his.
The ES said it was a big loss to Nigerian theatre practice and scholarship as well as NICO: “The truth is that Jenks was one Nigerian theatre scholar you want to listen to when he is delivering a paper. He was grounded in the theatre. He was quite versatile and had contributed immensely to Nigerian theatre, SONTA, as well as other professional bodies. We will really miss him. In NICO, he had presented papers as a resource person. Our hearts go out to the family he has left behind. May his soul rest in peace!”
Meanwhile, arrangements have been concluded for the burial of the late Head, Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, Professor Sam Kafewo and the Departmental Postgraduate Coordinator, Dr. Martins Ayegba, who had died in the accident.
Ayegba will be buried on Friday, 14 February, at Ogugu in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State; while there will a wake-keep on Friday, 28 February, for Professor Kafewo in his residence at No. 16 Area ‘F,’ ABU Quarters on 1 March, a service at the Anglican Church in Samaru, Zaria, by 10 am, followed by interment at Wusasa Cemetery, Zaria.
It will be recalled that the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, was thrown into mourning last week following the demise of its Head, Professor Sam Kafewo, the Departmental Postgraduate Coordinator, Dr. Martins Ayegba, and a postgraduate student of the Department, Ayishatu Nana, along Gwari Road, Abuja-Kaduna express highway, while on their way back to Zaria after a workshop on Theatre-for-Development (TfD) in Abuja.
Nwagbo Pat Obi