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Bayelsa plans state burial for first African Harvard graduate, Ekpebu

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The first African to graduate from Harvard University in the United States, Prof. Lawrence Ekpebu, will be given a state burial by his home state of Bayelsa.

Ekpebu, who also attended another Ivy League institution in the United States, Princeton University, hailed from Okoloba community in the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.

Ekpebu, who was Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Ivory Coast, died at the Federal Medical Centre in Yenagoa on January 2 at the age of 90.

The state governor, Douye Diri, disclosed his government’s plan for a state burial during a condolence visit to the deceased’s family in Yenagoa, on Wednesday.

He described Ekpebu’s death as a loss to his ethnic group, his state and Nigeria as a whole.

Diri said the deceased, who was a pioneer executive council member of the old Rivers State when it was created in 1967, would be remembered for his distinguished service to the Ijaw ethnic nationality and Nigeria at large.

The governor said, “The late Professor distinguished himself academically and is seen as the first African that graduated not just from a foreign university but one that is reputed to be among the best in the world, the Harvard University.

“The late Professor was a founding member of the old Rivers State and started his service in that state. His death is not only for Bayelsa but indeed the old Rivers State and the nation at large, having served this country in an ambassadorial capacity.”

He announced that he would be given a state burial when his burial date is announced by the family..”

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