J. Desmond Clark
Desmond and I crossed paths quite
a bit over the last twenty years. Like others, I remember his remarkable
enthusiasm, as well as the frequency with which he would exclaim
that something was "jolly good".A
couple of incidents come to mind. On one occasion Desmond came to
dinner at my house in Nairobi. After wining and dining the great
man, my wife and I were horrified when our dog tried to take a piece
of Desmond's ankle as a souvenir when he left. Desmond shrugged
the incident off with good humor and a few choice words directed
at the dog. The other occasion was a symposium at the University
of Illinois. He and I listened to a series of papers about the Cwezi,
a much-disputed group of gods, men or heroes, dependent upon how
one interprets the last thousand years of interlacustrine history.
With a glint in his eye, Desmond sidled up to me afterwards and
said, "Now, Pete, what's the truth about this Cwezi nonsense?".
Clearly, he was more at home in the earlier periods of prehistory,
but the next day he offered an insightful commentary on the papers
that he had heard, arguing as always for interdisciplinary research.
Finally, we should not forgot what it meant to receive a handwritten
letter from Desmond. One was always excited about the prospect of
what insights Desmond had included in the letter, if only you could
decipher what looked akin to Meroitic hieroglyphs.
-Pete Robertshaw, California State
University San Bernardino