|Coming storm by Nick Duke|
An African Thunderstorm
By David Rubadiri
From the west
Clouds come hurrying with the wind
Here and there
Like a plague of locusts
Tossing up things on its tail
Like a madman chasing nothing
Ride stately on its back
Gathering to perch on hills
Like dark sinister wings
The wind whistles by
And trees bend to let it pass
In the village
Screams of delighted children
Toss and turn
In the din of whirling wind
Babies clinging on their backs
In and out
The wind whistles by
Whilst trees bend to let us pass
Clothes were like tattered flags
To expose dangling breasts
As jagged blinding flashes
Rumble, tremble, and crack
Amidst the smell of fired smoke
And the pelting march of the storm.
(Culled From: A Selection Of African Poetry-Longman)
I love the imagery of this poem, I love that the language is like the storm. I like the allegorical way of questioning the “west”, the storm that rides in and disorganizes, that is lapped up by the children and women (the weak, ignorant, naïve?) but ultimately is abrupt and harsh!
For current and coming students, I think you’ll relate to the description of the storm in a literal sense as you have/or will experience African rain storms of different varieties in different settings!
But I also thought those reading this poem would appreciate knowing a bit more about the author so here’s a bit more to know:
Poet, novelist, playwright, university professor and diplomat, DAVID RUBADIRI was born in Liuli, Malawi, in 1930. He attended King’s College, Budo, in Uganda from 1941 to 1950 and thereafter studied at Makerere University, where he graduated with a BA degree in English Literature and History. He went on to the University of Bristol in England (1956-1960), where he obtained an MA degree in English Literature.
Rubadiri became Malawi’s first ambassador to the United States and the UN after independence in 1964, but fell out with President Hastings Banda in 1965. As an exile he taught at Makerere University but was again exiled during the Idi Amin years. Rubadiri then joined the University of Nairobi and also had a brief stint, with Okot p’Bitek, at the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), at the invitation of Wole Soyinka. He spent his remaining exile as Professor of Education at the University of Botswana. After Banda’s death, Rubadiri was again appointed Malawi’s Permanent Representative to the UN.
He subsequently became Vice-Chancellor at the University of Malawi, before he retired in 2004. His novel, No Bride Price criticised the Banda regime and was, along with Legson Kayira’s The Looming Shadow, one of the first published works by a Malawian.
Rubadiri ranks as one of Africa’s most celebrated and widely anthologised poets to emerge after independence.