Available on JSTOR at: doi.org/10.2307/3334540


Taban Lo Liyong is a Ugandan poet and critic. These excerpts are from a much longer work “Anabasisa Tabanisa”. His work has a strikingly vehement quality--sharp and ironic. He writes of the world with a scathing cynicism that does not entirely conceal the generous warmth that all good poetry must retain. Along with the poems that he sent he enclosed a series of “Thoughts” that show the cutting vision which he moulds into his poetry. “This the primitives know, only the enlightened are super-stitious”…“We owe psychiatry to the savages”…and perhaps more revealing of his understanding, “Within each man/The martyr lurks/And the murderer too.” He observed, “The true poet is a religious man.” There is a sense in which this is implicit even in his most scourging lines and it is very clear in his passages of compassion and tenderness.