Bryan Murphy was born and raised in England. As an adult, his ability to teach English as a foreign language has enabled him to live and work in places like Portugal, Angola, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Bulgaria, mostly at times of profound but rapid social and political transition. It was Angola which made the deepest impact. He now works as a translator in Turin, Italy. Although he is a relative newcomer to poetry, his work has appeared in EROSHA, INTERCULTURAL PLATFORM, MELANGE, MOVEO ANGELUS, SNAKESKIN, SWITCHED-ON GUTENBURG, and elsewhere, including the 2001 Venice Biennale. He prefers electronic to print outlets because of their editors faster responses and their more international audience.
Below a shade tree in Luena,
In life, its conceit was this:
In his stronghold, the living man stage-managed
Low Intensity Conflict
For a decade more, the string-cut puppet
Now Angolas wounded doves
May I live to see
The Cubans built flats by the 1st May roundabout,
Too often that news sent them
There was another vista: an expanse of earth
Yet some survived the holocaust,
These March mornings, the prospect of peace,
Death of an Orphan-grinder. Until 4 April 2002, Angola had been at war for at least 500 years. After independence in 1975, government and rebels continued their armed conflict as Cold War proxies. When the Cold War ended, Angolas Marxist government gave up on Marxism and organised internationally supervised democratic elections, which is what the rebels claimed they had been fighting for. However, when the rebels lost the elections, their charismatic, despotic leader, Jonas Savimbi, decided to go back to war. He was killed in combat on 22 February 2002 and buried in the provincial town of Luena, after which both sides rushed to make peace. See Karen MacGregor, After 26 bloody years, in THE INDEPENDENT (5 April 2002) for more details. Angola now faces the best prospect of peace (and potential prosperity) in its history. War, it seems, is not inevitable.
More than a Game. Theres plenty wrong with the world of soccer, but for me it remains a universal language, a point of contact across cultures from Ireland to Israel to Iran to Indochina and beyond. In this poem, its also a symbol of endurance and the hope of a better, normal future. If peace gives kids like those in the everlasting kickabout the chance to develop their skills, their country will be going placesand not just in sport.