Monday, April 16, 2018

Alexis Kagame

Alexis Kagame (1912—1981) is a Rwandan poet, priest, historian, and philosopher. He was born into a long line of court historians. He extensively researched the oral history, traditions and literature of Rwanda — particularly its dynastic court poetry. At various points the Belgian colonial authorities found his views working against their purposes. In the early 1950s his bishop was persuaded to reassign him to Rome, to lessen his influence.

Kagame’s masterwork is the epic poem The Singer of the Lord of Creation (1950), written in the Kinyarwanda language, and translated By Kagame himself, into French. He also translated The Bible into Kinyarwanda. He became one of the first professors at the new University of Rwanda in 1963.

From The Singer of the Lord of Creation

Then Lucifer made up his mind: he would
rebel against the Lord. He sought a place
in space that would be suitable for war.
He had a vague presentiment that God
might be like that innocent-looking sheep
which suddenly became a thundercloud.
The rebel Lucifer began by God’s
command to shrivel, but he did not die.
His angel’s wings contracted like a bat’s
from white they turned an ugly black. A smell
of putrefaction emanates from him
that sickens men. He limps into the war
joining his comrades who became like cats.
They are accursed: they all have leprosy.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.