"I spent my childhood, like most children brought up in the Congolese bush, among women. Their talk, their songs, their lullabies, their tales, their tears and even their quarrels sprinkled with parables, were all imbued with poetry." For Gabriel Okoundji this childhood was the source of his inspiration - and this fine translation conveys his sense of wonder at the stars, the rain, the wind, the relationship of Man and the natural world. He sees his poetry as an interpretation, an adaptation of the oral poetry which exists naturally in many African societies. "The harmonious integration of Man in the world is my raw material." This book contains two series of poems, some short, some longer, all rich in imagery and imbued with the atmosphere of rural Africa. It also contains a fascinating account of Gabriel's contact with Peter and how this translation and publication came about.
Gabriel Okoundji was born in Okondo-Ewo in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) in 1962 in the family of a Teke chief (hence his title, Mwene). He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Grand Prix Litteraire d'Afrique noire (2010) and the Prix Special de l'Academie nationale des Belles Lettres, Art et Sciences de Bordeaux (2011). Peter Figueroa, was born in Jamaica and has held university posts in the West Indies, Australia and the UK. He retired from the Chair of Education at Southampton shortly before his death in 2011. He was a poet and well known for his academic work on the sociology of race. Peter's partner, Carol Sanders, helped to complete the translation.