In the poem Song of Lawino racism reared its ugly head in a rather ridiculous form, some people might argue that any form of racism is ridiculous, which is very understandable, but in this particular situation in my opinion it is worst than the segregation in America throughout the early part of the century 20th century. It’s called self hatred, self hatred is a very uncommon form of racism and it can appear in any ethnic group but its black self hatred that manifest it self in this poem, as Lawino’s husband Orcol condemns his wife, tribe and there way of life.
As I began to read the section of the poem assigned to us, I immediately assumed that Lawino a women from West Africa had obviously did something to her husband that caused him to insult her the way she implied he did. Ocol which is also from West Africa, son of the chief and man with an University education slanders his wife’s name throughout the poem . I thought for a second maybe she was lazy and/or didn’t do anything to help him around the house or maybe she was unfaithful but one thing I was sure of is that whatever it was it obviously caused him to stop loving her. This was became more and more obvious as he continued to insult her, he compared her to things like the rubbish in the rubbish pit; a little dog, the ojuu insects that sit on the beer pot and a sheep, implying she is a fool. Orcol constantly ridicules Lawino saying, she is primitive for not being able to play a guitar, he says she her eyes are dead because she cant read, he states her ears are blocked and she cant comprehend a single foreign word as he boastfully scorns her in English, and he says she cannot count the coins. Roughly translated he called her stupid, worthless and he basically proclaimed she wasn’t worthy of a man of his quality. It was mind boggling to me how a man could say something like that to the women he called his wife with out a reasonable explanation. What could have happened between now and there wedding vowels that could make him despise her in such manner? As Lawino, the narrator, continued to explain her situation to her fellow clansmen the pieces of the puzzling poem began to fall together, and the picture became more clear. Through the collage of words Orcol put together to slander his wife’s name even more so, the insults began to spread like a plague. Orcol began mentioning and vilifying others related to Lawino and or anyone he knew that lived and looked at life the same way she did. He insulted her parents and by saying that they do not know the ways of God and they sit in a deep darkness as sorcerers he specifically called her mother a witch, he smeared the names of there clansmen by referring to them as fools, because of there traditions, such as eating rats. But it wasn’t until he referred to them all as kaffirs, when I had realized that his problem had nothing to do with anything his wife did to him that caused him to view his her in such a harsh manner, I now understood he had a problem with her race and culture but this was puzzling all in it self because they were of the same race and culture.
The word “kariff” in Africa, is a word that is the equivalent to the English word “Nigger” which is used as a derogatory statement to degrade black people. When Orcol said this word there was only one explanation as to why he talked about his wife, her family and the people of his culture in the horrible way as he did. He is suffering from a form of racism called self-hatred. Once it was clear to me that Lawino had not did any thing to cause him slander her name in such manner, Lawino bluntly stated that her husband pours scorn on all black people, by his racists comments such as all black people were primitive and their ways are utterly harmful, their dances are moral sins, and they are ignorant poor and diseased. These were all signs to his struggle with self hatred.