The poet, playwright, novelist and diplomat David Rubadiri died on September 15.
I published his profile on the social media pages of a project that chronicles the lives of great African men and women, and said he was Malawian.
A Ugandan wrote in to say no, Rubadiri was as Ugandan as a Ugandan can get. He wasn’t the only one claiming him, other Africans too did. And that was what made people like Rubadiri special; they belonged to many.
One of Africa’s most widely anthologised poets, Rubadiri died at the age of 88. Those are enough years to live a life. Though a celebrated poet, perhaps the average readers knows Rubadiri more for his novel No Bride Price, which was first published in 1967.
Rubadiri represented an African species that, tragically, has all but disappeared.
He was born in Liuli, on the Tanzanian side of Lake Malawi in what today is Mbinga district of Ruvuma Province. That he was Malawian tells us how colonial borders have since hardened to shape identity and nationality. His birth happened at a time when the borderlines were still fluid.
He went to King’s College, Budo, in Uganda, then to Makerere University, and on to the UK to do a Masters in Literature at Cambridge. Back in Malawi, he was appointed the country’s first ambassador to the United Nations at Independence in 1964.
It didn’t last. The strangely Anglophile and autocratic Dr Kamuzu Hastings Banda was president in Malawi, and by 1965 Rubadiri had to flee the dictator’s menace.
Eventually, he settled back at Makerere University as a lecturer for seven years, until 1975 when an even scarier tyrant than Banda, Field Marshal Idi Amin, was on the rampage and targeting intellectuals.
By then he had become “Ugandan,” and so left behind a family, not just poetry and prose. In this period he became deeply etched in the popular imagination, hence the feeling that he was Ugandan.
He didn’t travel far. He pitched up at Nairobi University, becoming an influential member of the Kenyan literary and theatre community. Kenya was not a paradise for writers too then, as Ngugi Wa Thiong’o – who was detained in 1977, released a year later, and forced into exile – will testify.
In between his years at Nairobi University, Rubadiri did stints at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.
Rubadiri left Nairobi, and from 1984 to 1997 he was located at the University of Botswana.
The end of the Cold War imperilled pro-Western dictators like Banda. At the age of, according to some accounts, 100, in 1994 he lost an election, and died despondent three years later.
In 1997, Rubadiri was appointed Malawi’s ambassador to the UN again, and in 2000 became vice-chancellor of the University of Malawi.
Rubadiri’s itinerary was typical of many African literary figures of the time, who through a unique and now diminished openness, combined with flight from murderous despots, traversed the continent recording what would become a uniquely pan-African story. There are virtually no African writers today who travel these lands in the fashion they did.
Rubadiri, then, was really not Malawian, nor Ugandan, nor Kenyan, nor Botswanan, nor Nigerian. He was African. For that reason the works of writers of his generation, are not about the past. They still offer us the best glimpse of what the soul of today’s idealised pan-African future could feel like.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is publisher of data visualiser Africapaedia and Rogue Chiefs. [email protected]
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153