J. Desmond Clark
I first met Desmond when he visited
Rutgers to teach a course in African Prehistory. Although I had
long known about his work, I had never seen him. Yet, he seemed
very familiar to me. During his first weeks at Rutgers, I wondered
about this niggling familiarity. It was more than just déjà
vu-what accounted for it? Then suddenly I sat up in bed one night
as the answer hit me: I had met Allan Quatermain.
I have a vivid memory of Desmond attending a party at my house.
After he had made some significant inroads on a bottle of scotch,
he began to give good, practical advice on how to survive disasters
in the field. For example, what to do when on you are on foot in
the savanna, the sun is setting, there are no climbable trees around,
and you cannot build a fire? "What you must do, my dear, is
build yourself a bomaö."
The tenth PanAfrican Congress in Harare, Zimbabwe, offered excursions
to the participants. One of these excursions stopped at the Livingstone
Museum on the way to Victoria Falls. Desmond, Betty, and other participants
were at the museum when many local school children came visiting.
The children, who ranged in age from about 7 to 12, were delighted
to see Desmond. They knew all about him, and solemnly lined up to
shake hands with him, all standing whispering in their clean, starched
uniforms. Desmond then took the children through the exhibits, lecturing
to them about the prehistory of their country. He would gladly teach
anyone, child, graduate student, or fellow scholar.
-Susan Cachel, Rutgers University