n English in Africa - The poetry of Mtshali, Serote, Sepamla and others in English

Volume 40, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



Not only am I not a trained critic, but I am faced with an august body of English school teachers who probably know more about poetry than I do.

School teachers make me very nervous. My first English school teacher was a French nun at a convent in Malaya. She used to keep a bowl of boiled sweets on her desk. And if one of her pupils could write the letter CAT and SAT and MAT in their correct sequence on the blackboard, she would reward the child with a boiled sweet. It was probably very good for our English, if not particularly good for our teeth. Once when her back was turned - cleaning the board or something - and it was my turn to regale the class with my proficiency in the esoterics of English spelling, I grabbed a whole handful of the sweets and stuffed them in my pocket. She appeared not to notice. We finished the lesson. It was, I remember, a very long lesson! As we all filed out, she told me to stay behind and empty my pockets. It was a messy business: the sweets had partially melted. "Livingstone," she said, "you are going to come to a sticky end."

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