Tributes to
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