THAT one now . . . . that’s a sketch of a little African girl . . . delightfully black . . . I made it while I was passing through East Africa . . . her name was Sahdji . . . wife of Konombju . . . chieftain . . . of only a small tribe . . . Warpuri was the area of his sovereign domain . . . but to get back to Sahdji . . . with her beautiful dark body . . .rosy black . . . graceful as the tongues of flame she loved to dance around . . . and pretty . . . small features . . . . large liquid eyes . . . over-full sensuous lips . . . she knew how to dance too . . . better than any . . . . . . . .
Sahdji was proud . . . she was the favorite wife . . . as such she had privileges . . . she did love Konombju . . .
Mrabo . . . son of Konombju, loved Sahdji . . . his father . . fifty-nine . . . . too old for her . . . fifty-nine and eighteen . . . he could wait . . . he loved his father . . . but . . . . maybe death . . . his father was getting old
Numbo idolized Mrabo . . . Numbo was a young buck . . . . would do anything to make Mrabo happy. . . .
one day Sahdji felt restless . . . why . . . it was not unusual for Konombju to lead the hunt . . . even at his age . . . Sahdji jangled her bracelets . . . it was so still and warm . . . she’d wait at the door . . . . standing there . . . shifting . . . a blurred silhouette against the brown of the hut . . . she waited . . . waited. . .
maybe . . .
she saw the long steaming stream of natives in the distance . . . she looked for Konombju . . what was that burden they carried . . . why were they so solemn . . . where was Konombju. . . .
the column reached her door . . . placed their burden at her feet . . . Konombju . . . . . an arrow in his back . . . just accident . . . Goare go shuioa go elui ruri—(when men die they depart for ever)—they hadn’t seen him fall . . hunting, one watches the hunt . . . a stray arrow . . . Konombju at her feet . . .
preparations for the funeral feast . . . the seven wives of Konombju went to the new chief’s hut . . . Mrabo . . . one . . two . . three . . he counted . . . no Sahdji . . .six . . seven . . no Sahdji . . .
the funeral procession filed past the door . . . and Mrabo . . . Mrabo went too . . the drums beat their boom . . boom . . . deep pulsing heart-quivering boom . . . and the reeds added their weird dirge . . . the procession moved on . . . on to Konombju’s hut . . . boom . . b-o-o-m
there from the doorway stepped Sahdji . . . painted in the funeral red . . . the flames from the ground are already catching the branches . . . slowly to the funeral drums she swayed . . . danced . . . leading Konombju to his grave . . . her grave . . . their grave . . .
they laid the body in the funeral hut . . . Goa shoa motho go sale motho—(when a man dies a man remains)—Sahdji danced slowly . . . sadly . . . looked at Mrabo and smiled . . . slowly triumphantly . . . and to the wails of the wives . . . boom-boom of the drums . . . gave herself again to Konombju . . . the grass-strewn couch of Konombju. . . .
Mrabo stood unflinching . . . but Numbo, silly Numbo had made an old . . old man of Mrabo.
Published in The New Negro: an Interpretation, 1925