Today I did my share

In building the nation

I drove a permanent Secretary

To an important urgent function

In fact a luncheon at the Vic.


The menu reflected its importance

Cold Bell beer with small talk,

Then friend chicken with niceties

Wine to fill the hollowness of the laughs

Ice-cream to cover the stereotype jokes

Coffee to keep the PS awake on return journey.


I drove the Permanent Sectretary back.

He yawned many times in the back of the car

Did you have any lunch friend?

I replied looking straight ahead

And secretly smiling at his belated concern

That i had not, but was smiling!


Upon which he said with a seriousness

That amused more than annoyed me,

Mwananchi, I too had none!

I attended to matters of state

Highly delicate diplomatic duties you know,

And friend, it goes against my grain,

Causes me stomach ulcers and wind.

Ah, he continued, yawning again,

The pains we suffer in buiding the nation!


So the PS had ulcers too!

My ulcers I think are equally painful

Only they are caused by hunger,

Not sumptuous lunches!


So two nation builders

Arrived home this evening

With terrible stomach pains

The result of building the nation –

– Different ways.

Henry Barlow


  1. Identify two voices in the poem (2 mks)
  2. Explain what the poem addresses (4 mks)
  3. Identify and illustrate the use of any two poetic devices uses in the poem and explain their effectiveness ( 6 mks)
  4. Describe the tone in the poem (2 mks)
  5. How would you describe the attitude of the permanent secretary towards the persona?(2 mks)
  6. Describe the rhyme scheme in stanza one (2 mks)
  7. i) “He yawned many times in the back of the car.” Add a question tag                     (1 mk)
  8. ii) “ I drove the permanent secretary back.” Write in passive voice
HOD Academics Changed status to publish November 22, 2021