To André Mark du Plessis

Fear not,

For I too was a 'Ceelo', [1]

Born of a mother's longing

And a father's fear

That once again

He would be tricked into mourning

Before the consciousness of love

Had dawned.


Held in my arms

But with doubts

And somewhat helpless disbelief

That this boy

I had seen Apgared into life [2]

With the cry of a man [3]

Ready for war [4]

Was really mine.


But you are here,

Flesh and blood -

André Mark, [5]

And the Tonga myth

Of a brotherless ghost

Must die

As surely as I am



February 1976 


[1] A child born after an infant death is called 'ceelo' (a ghost), with the thought that the parents may be persuaded this child was not there if he too dies before he cuts his first tooth.

[2] Neonatal resuscitation is introduced after assessment of the Apgar rating. This was first proposed by Dr Virginia Apgar, but now has the acronym - A - appearance, P - pulse, G - grimace,  A - activity,  R - respiration.

[3] Andre means 'manly'.

[4] Mark means 'warrior'.

[5] A ceelo must also be willing to be the object of jokes at all times. He.may be given any name. Andre was called anything from 'ceelo' to 'mango' to 'Kanakamana' - the Tonga name of headman Chikankata.