Stephen Derwent Partington

Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits: An anthology
by Rasna Warah
Author House, 2008

There is a new, East African book, edited by the excellent Kenyan columnist Rasna Warah, that for us here in the region articulates postdevelopmentalist concerns from a more relevant, specific and local perspective – indeed, in exemplary fashion employing the sort of local and grassroots perspective that such thinkers and activists claim that classical developmentalism too frequently more

(i.m. Aimé Césaire, Négritudist)

The windward waves are storming:
The basalt of Pelée is black.
The mourners' blown umbrellas: black.
The massing clouds above them: black.
Umbrella bolls of cotton: black.
The acres of vanilla pods:
all black.

The freshly-mounded soil is black.
The grave's great mouth is shaded:
The ink across your elegies:
jet black.
This too is heaven.

*Stephen Derwent more

There she is, dead again,

that grandma with her jowls

and battered cardigan,

her headscarf and her

grainy backstreet photograph.

From week to week

her image stares to haunt us.

It’s the text that brings her

sharply into focus:

Loving mother of…

The grandma of…

An in-law through some cousin

to a councillor from such

and such a ward…

And, yes, the family will meet

at somewhere rural more

Rewrite this sentence as a question:

I should kill you.

Next, correct this split infinitive:

To clearly know what’s wrong.

Reverse the pronouns in this sentence:

You’ll forgive me.

The infinitive of Love is:

Love; To Love; Be Loved; Despise?

Note down five synonyms for Neighbour

and five antonyms for Hate.

Select a word from those in brackets

and insert it in this sentence:

I _______ my fellow humans

( more

When peace erupted, none of us was ready.
You remember how the sticks above our heads
were gently lowered, how our riot gear
was sloughed-off like a skin? We rubbed our chins.
And yet, the dead, they didn’t rise.

Do you recall the day the grandmas of the Rift
embraced the grandsons of Nyeri,
when the youth were given grants to raise
manyattas they had razed? We rubbed our eyes.
But still, the dead maintained their peace.

Think more

We praise the man who,
though he held the match between
his finger and his thumb,
beheld the terror of its tiny drop of phosphorous,
its brown and globoid smoothness
like a charred and tiny skull
and so returned it to its box.

So too, we hail the youth who,
though he took his panga on the march,
perceived it odd within his fist
when there was neither scrub
nor firewood to be felled,
so laid it down.

An more

What does dug earth care at all about ethnicity?
A Mwangi fits a six-foot hole
as snugly as Owuor.

And tell me, where's the corpse that anyone
can teargas with success?
Or did you do it to augment the tears of mourners,
out of kindness?

Can you tell a foe from how he skins a cow
or peels a spud
or guts a fish?
Are these enough to skin his hide?
Perhaps it's speech, the way she shrubs?
And who's the carrier, his mother more