• Natalia Frolova
Keywords: East African literature, Kenyan poetry in English, immigrant poetry, Marjorie Macgoye, Stephen Partington


The poetry of Kenyan writers Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye and Stephen Derwent Partington
cannot be called typical for East African literature. Both Macgoye and Partington are ethnic
British, who, each at own time, moved to Kenya and devoted themselves to literature. Their
verses depict a sincere love for the land, which has become their home, pain for the hardships of Africans, an interpretation of African reality through the eyes of a European. The paper
compares two views of British-born Kenyan poets, to the life and people of Kenya, and two kinds of attitudes to the portrait of Europeans through the prism of their own experience.
Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (1928-2015), English-born writer, author of famous “Song of Nyarloka” (1977) has earned the nickname "mother of Kenyan literature." Macgoye's poetic
work is imbued with pain and compassion for the Kenyan people, who became her family – she proudly calls herself a Kenyan writer. Macgoye mourns any tormented, absurdly killed or
unfairly treated human being, whether it is little girl Atieno who has to work instead of going to school, or children stampeded during the visit of President Jomo Kenyatta, or slum dwellers
whose homes were knocked down by the order of the Nairobi authorities. Despite the frequent sad mood of Macgoy's poetry, it is worth noting the main positive component of her poems – a
sincere love for Kenya, admiration for Africa, black people, original African nature, diverse cultures. Finally her immigrant view at Africa looks paternalistic and missionary in a whole.
The representative of English-language Kenyan poetry of the 2000s, British-born Stephen Partington in his verses demonstrates an ironic attitude to the reality; suffering and pain are not
in the focus of his attention, especially in poems on racial relationships. His irony often touches his non-African origin, a misunderstanding of things that are obvious to the indigenous people of
The poetry of both authors is a brilliant example of how the interaction of cultures among the European intelligentsia, who immigrated to Africa, forms a request for literary expression in the
context of integration into a foreign cultural society. On the other hand, we see how the attitude towards the topic of Africa and African people transforms historically. The very landscape of
problems changes from decolonization of consciousness in the McGoy’s poetry and its obvious paternalistic notes to Partington’s another modernistic «agenda».