Author: boulereh

Dr Lenrie Peters (1932-2009)

Dr Lenrie Peters

Dr Lenrie Peters was born in 1932 in Banjul (The Gambia). In 1956 he graduated with a BSc. from the TRINITY College of Cambridge. From 1956 to 1959, he worked with the University College Hospital of London. In 1959, he received a Medical and Surgery diploma from Cambridge. He holds a Master’s degree in Arts.

From 1954 to1955 he was the president of African Students’ Society of Cambridge. He worked as journalist of African programs with the BBC from 1955 to 1968. He was the president of the Historic Commission of Monuments of the Gambia and President of FESTAC comity in 1977.

Mr Peters was the President of the board of directors of the National library of the Gambia and Gambia College from 1979 to 1987. From 1985 to 1991, he was a member and President of the West African Examination Council (WAEC). He was member of the jury for the Literary prize of the Commonwealth in 1995.

Lenrie Peters’ literary career began at the age of 32 with his first publication, which was a selection of poems published in 1964, entitled Poems. The collection is composed of 44 pages and there is a collection of 33 poems some of which were already published in “Black Orpheus”. Besides few poems written in rhyme, all the poems are in free verse divided in several stanzas. In this collection, the poems are untitled but with a particularity: each first word of a poem is in capitals (upper case form) and most of them are a page long where others are short and others more than a page long. His opening poem is very symbolic as it begins with verses ‘OPEN the Gates/To East and West’  as if calling out to be heard

Dr Peters’ first novel, The Second Round was published in 1965 by Heinemann. In its 193 pages, the novel narrates about a young physician, Dr Kawa, who settles down in Freetown at the morrow of independence after completing his studies in England. He falls in love with a young girl only to discover how unfaithful she is. He is seduced by the wife of his neighbour. His passionate love affairs end up in dismal failure. Dr Kawa is so traumatised that his sentimental life is plagued by disorder. In an attempt to escape from this situation he moves to the country side. The whole story intends to show how complex a society can be. Dr Kawa, someone who sees life to be simple, or too simple, sees himself involved in the complex problems of other people which will eventually affect his own.

Four years later, Katchikali, another collection of 69 poems was published. It was in 1971. Katchikali is a sacred crocodile pool in Bakau, in the Greater Banjul Area. It is also the title of one of the poems (n°56).

Satellites published in 1971, comprises of 55 poems most of which are centred on intimate emotions and the human experience. He expresses aging and death, the risks of love and particularly the loneliness of exile. Of the poems in Satellites, 22 are extracts of his first collection, Poems.

In 1981 he published his Selected Poetry. This collection is very much similar to a personal anthology. It is composed of 104 poems: 28 extracted from Satellites, 28 from Katchikali and 48 new poems. This work is the fruit of 14 years of poetic creativity.