Searching for the Rain: An Anthology of Verse

Searching for the Rain: An Anthology of verse is a title of an anthology written by Axaro W Thaniseb and published by McMillan Education Publishers.

The anthology, recently launched by the National Assembly of Namibia’s speaker, Theo-Ben Gurirab at the Garlic and Flowers Restaurant was described as one of the text books for two courses at the University of Namibia (Unam) called An overview of African Literature and Namibian Literature since independence.

According to Thaniseb, “The anthology is partly a tribute to my primary and high school teachers who helped me through those difficult years of learning and laid the foundation, despite the wanting and trying circumstances in my formal education and opened the doorway to the world beyond my village.

“The poems in this anthology of my verse, which are loosely referred to as work in progress by myself and ‘a social commentary’ by a close friend, were never written to be published. Rather, they were conceived to give vent to my frustrations, feelings of anger and nostalgia; to record certain intricacies of life and the wonders they embody; the search for the self or the celebration of life and to further develop my creative writing skills. However, the work has taken its own life form, identity and direction through readings by my friends and associates and the amount of time I took to work on each poem.”

In the anthology’s foreword, Dr Sarala Krishnaughty, Dean of the School of Communication at Polytechnic of Namibia describes the book as, “The blossoming of Namibian poetry that stands testimony to this instinct of self-preservation. Thaniseb’s anthology is reflective of the true Namibian spirit and it is a praise song to the land of the brave.

It is immediately both representative of the culture and clime of Namibia and a deeply personal and spiritual journey of a young man growing up in an apartheid era.”

The poems in the collection cover a range of topics from love and dreams to places and memories and are an exploration of trials and tribulations, aches and pains, fears and hopes of a sensitive black man growing up in a single-parent family enveloped in the warm embrace of his grandmother and later, his mother.

Thaniseb’s poems are boned with ideas of love, dreams, hope and faith; nerved and blooded with intense emotions of pain, fears, troubles and tribulations, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.

One of the definable characteristics of this anthology is its economy of language through the use of verses, which makes the poems easy to understand but at the same time preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery and emotional effects.

The poem I AM I is a description of man’s capacity to make life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see - it is, rather, a light by which we may see - and what we see are the memories and scars from the colonial era that contribute to the personalities we have today.

He writes, “… If you ask me who I am, I will show you the scars of yesteryears, carved deeply across my back… and mirrored in my depthless eyes. That is who I am and what my name is…”

The former editor of The Namibian, Gwen Lister describes the anthology as, “A poetic journey of the self and the country of rich and diverse cultural and natural heritage; the open spaces and the people with smiling faces; the wind and the sun… the struggles and the celebrations.”

Dr Sifiso Nyathi, director at Unam Language Centre also says , “This anthology is a people based of craft. It is meant for readers of all age groups. All audiences of different literacy capacities could access its imagery and diction with ease. It could therefore, cater to both the cognitive and affective needs of a scholar, a poetry enthusiast, an academic, a traveler, as well as a religious practitioner.”

Axaro W Thariseb was born in a small mining town, Uis and grew up in Uis and Arandis where he completed his high school education at the Kolin Foundation High School. He is armed with academic qualifications in Theatre, Heritage Studies, English Communication and Education from Unam, University of Western Cape, Unisa and Warsaw University (Poland), respectively.

Thariseb has published a play To Live a Better Life, which won the second price for the Golden Pen Writers’ competition and is published in the New Namibian Plays Vol. 2. He also co-authored a lengthy article titled “Museum Education in Namibia: An Overview” in the Namibia Scientific Society Journal, 2004. His first poem Hallo My Friend was published in the coffee-table edition of Soulful Seeking; an international coffee-table poetry anthology.

He has worked as a teacher, lecturer, museum and heritage education officer and is currently employed as a director of the National Theatre of Namibia. Thariseb serves on various national bodies ranging from heritage to education, notably The National Heritage Council, the Museums Association of Namibia and the National Arts Panel as well as the National Institute for Educational Development. PF