(On WWI:)A man of importance had been shot at a place I could not pronounce in Swahili or in English, and, because of this shooting, whole countries were at war. It seemed a laborious method of retribution, but that was the way it was being done. ...A messenger came to the farm with a story to tell. It was not a story that meant much as stories went in those days. It was about how the war progressed in German East Africa and about a tall young man who was killed in it. ... It was an ordinary story, but Kibii and I, who knew him well, thought there was no story like it, or one as sad, and we think so now.The young man tied his shuka on his shoulder one day and took his shield and his spear and went to war. He thought war was made of spears and shields and courage, and he brought them all.But they gave him a gun, so he left the spear and the shield behind him and took the courage, and went where they sent him because they said this was his duty and he believed in duty. ...He took the gun and held it the way they had told him to hold it, and walked where they told him to walk, smiling a little and looking for another man to fight.He was shot and killed by the other man, who also believed in duty, and he was buried where he fell. It was so simple and so unimportant.But of course it meant something to Kibii and me, because the tall young man was Kibii's father and my most special friend. Arab Maina died on the field of action in the service of the King. But some said it was because he had forsaken his spear.
I nodded, unsure if Ted sounded admiring or angry. 'I waded in but I couldn't find him. I mean, is it possible - the water wasn't deep enough for him to drown. It doesn't make any sense.''My band made four brilliant albums and never had a single goddamn hit. We were supposed to be the American Rolling Stones, and we couldn't get more than five minutes of airplay. Does that make sense?' Ted stubbed out his cigarette.