Happy Birthday Chinua Achebe

Achebe

Featuring on today’s Google Doodle for his 87th Birthday Chinua Achebe (RIP, 2013 age 82) was a Man Booker Prize winning Novelist and also a Poet, Professor, Ambassador, Chieftain and all round African Renaissance man. His first novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’ is the most widely read novel in African literature.

 

Refugee Mother And Child :by Chinua Achebe

No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours

of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most
mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –

singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she

did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.

Happy Anniversary Harry

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Harry “Breaker” Morant, Soldier, Poet, Horse Tamer, Lover, Australian folk hero and cattle drover.  Executed 101 years ago today for the murder of Boers during the Boer War.  His “war crimes”, trial and subsequent execution remain a controversy today.  The trial documentation “disappeared” and has never since been found.  The  events have been the subject of many books and articles and the film “Breaker Morant” is well worth a watch.  Directed in 1980 by Bruce Bereford and starring Edward Woodward as Breaker and Bryan Brown as Peter Handcock.

The Australians want him pardoned.  The South Africans object.  The Queen is caught in the middle.

His poetry is the bush doggerel of the outback, and reads a lot like Banjo Patterson, Robert Service and Rudyard Kipling.

Butchered to make a Dutchman’s holiday:  byHarry Breaker Morant

In prison cell I sadly sit,
A dammed crestfallen chappie,
And own to you I feel a bit–
A little bit—unhappy.

It really ain’t the place nor time
To reel off rhyming diction ;
But yet we’ll write a final rhyme
While waiting crucifixion.

No matter what end they decide
Quick-lime? or boiling oil? sir
We’ll do our best when crucified
To finish off in style, sir !

But we bequeath a parting tip
For sound advice of such men
Who come across in transport ship
To polish off the Dutchmen.

If you encounter any Boers
You really must not loot ‘em,
And, if you wish to leave these shores,
For pity’s sake, don’t shoot ‘em.

And if you’d earn a D.S.O.,
Why every British sinner;

Should know the proper way to go
Is: Ask the Boer to dinner.

Let’s toss a bumper down our throat
Before we pass to heaven,
And toast: “The trim-set petticoat
We leave behind in Devon.”