>Poetry and rain

I am reading the wonderful vivid stories compiled in the book by the Danish baroness Karen Blixen who came to live in Kenya in 1913 and stayed for almost 20 years. In the book, beautiful insights of life at a coffee plantation, masai people and the politics of first world war are interspersed with shockingly racist accounts by a baroness who was not only a writer, artist and safari hunter, but also a slave owner.
In this section she tell her kikuyu slaves about rhymes and poetry and they ask her to continue. The chapter is very typically named “Negros and verse”.

One night out on the corn fields, when we had harvested the corn…I started for my own amusement to speak to my workers, most of them very young, in verse in Swahili. There was no meaning to the verses, they were made up for the sake of the rhyme:
Na penda chumbe (The bulls like salt)

It soon attracted the interest of my workers, they gathered around me…

-Speak again, speak about rain.
Why they thought that poetry sounded like rain, I do not know. It must have been an expression for approval, because rain is in Africa always longed for and welcomed.

-Karen Blixen in Out of Africa

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