Richard Ntiru – insights into everyday life
Richard Ntiru is a seasoned African poet who was born in Uganda in 1946. He studied in Makerere in the 1960/70s and was editor of the university journal, Penpoint as well as the manager of the University’s travelling theatre. Ntiru’s poetry is a rich merge and mesh of memorable imagery, pithy analogies and incisive diction that depict the African society in transformation but also in degeneration. His poetry captures the complexity of everyday life as well as the dynamics of exclusion that relegate members of the society to the sidelines. Some of his most unforgettable poems include “The Pauper”, “Miniskirt”, “If it is True”, “Rhythm of the Pestle”, “To the living”. In his poetry he does not only grant insight into the struggles, joys and tragedy of everyday life, but equally engages with grave spiritual and existentialist questions of the modern (African) being.
Rhythm of the Pestle
Listen – Listen
Listen to the palpable rhythm
Of the periodic pestle
Plunging in proud perfection
Into the cordial cavity
Of maternal mortar
At each succeeding stroke
The grain darts, glad to be scattered
By the hard glint
Of the pestle’s passion.
During the aerial suspension
of the pendant pestle
the twice asked, twice-disappointed girl
thinks of the suitor that didn't come,
of her who dragged her name through ashes...
of her bridal bed
that vanished with the ephemeral dream,
of her twin firstlings
that will never be born
and her weltering hands
grip, grip, rivet hard
and downright down
comes the vengeance of the pestle.
"I very much like this poem for it represents a practice that is very common amongst African and afro-diasporic communities, the act of pounding (cassava, maize, beans, yams, etc) using the mortar and pestle. It underlines the role of the woman in sustaining the entire family. It is a daily reality, especially of the womenfolk to which Ntiru affixes a very existentialist situations of hopes, hopelessness, conceptions of a good life, imagination of the future, creating a synchrony between the frequency and rhythm of the pestle with dreams beheld, deferred or pounded."
Dr. Gilbert Shang Ndi, Postdoctoral Researcher and Member of the Research Section “Arts & Aesthetics” at the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence