Medupe: Small rain vs. Big rain / Ayi Kwei Armah's Eloquence of the Scribes

From Eloquence of the Scribes, such a beautiful image of slow, effectual movement:

“...Something about the name they had chosen for their group spoke directly to me, humbling me. They called their troupe Medupe. I asked what the word meant. “Small rain,” Malesa Lebelo said, before Dumakude ka Ndlovu added that farmers where they lived distinguished between two types of rain. One type was violent, spectacular, pouring down tremendous torrents in a short period, sweeping away topsoil, uprooting fragile vegetation, causing erosion, making gullies and ravines. Big, useless rain. Small rain, on the other hand, fell slowly, so softly it felt like mist. Lasting hours and days on end, it could moisten soil for planting, and irrigate growing crops without damaging land. It was the kind of rain that did the groundwork for future harvests. The children from Soweto wanted their poetry to do that kind of patient, slow, long-term, practically invisible preparatory work.” {p. 125}

(Originally posted 11/25/10)

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