A Note to the Reader

Dear Reader, Rain – a Song for All and None is a poetic meditation on History through the echoes of Oral Tradition. The story you will find in this volume is inspired by the song of storytellers born on the shores of Nam Lolwe, also called Nam Ataro, the Great Lake at the eye of the Nile in the heart of East Africa. Flowing into the main current of the storyteller’s voice are also those of a number of poets and other storytellers who lend their distinct accents to a collective chorus, each sounding sometimes in harmony, sometimes in counterpoint, and other times still in dissonance with one another.

Details of some of these distinct voices, the most significant one of which is Dante’s Commedia, are outlined in the Afterword at the end of this volume. Other voices cited in the Afterword include a number of different versions of the Bible, the Papal Bulls undergirding the policy and practice of seizure and occupation at the heart of the Doctrine of Discovery, as well as the historical accounts by 15th-century Portuguese chroniclers of Vasco da Gama’s first and second voyages around Africa and onto India. The contributions of all these varied sources have here been woven together into a contemplative interrogation of the nature of History, especially as viewed through living memory unbound from the shackles of curated time. The volume also includes a schematic family tree spanning six generations of the family at the center of Rain, a radial timeline of those six generations, a five-century outline of the occupation of Mombasa and of Fort Jesus, and a concise glossary of the pre-colonial names of key lakes, rivers and mountains that appear in Rain, especially in Book V.

And so I invite you, intrepid Reader, to receive the volume before you with the expansive kindness you would extend to a novel, and the contemplative reflection you would afford a poem. To facilitate your journey through the temporally volatile world of the Dream Walker, you will find a brief sketch of the contents of each of the nine Books of Rain on the reverse side of each title page. May you enjoy the melody, conterpoint, and rhythms of this story and discover in Rain a song for all and none.

—Adoyo, MMXX