Song of Lawino: Cultural Duality and Universality
Song of Lawino by Okot p’Bitek centers on the main narrator Lawino’s plea towards her husband, Ocol, who shuns his old Acholi background for Westernization. Lawino implores Ocol not to abandon his heritage but rather accept both Acholi and Western cultures; as noted, cultural duality serves as the prime theme in Song of Lawino. Through the character of Lawino, p’Bitek conveys his message that Acholi and Western cultures could be fused in the era of Westernization. In making his point, p’Bitek employs techniques, namely the language, diction, syntax structures, imagery, and figures of speech, to ensure that Song of Lawino supports both Acholi and Western characteristics. Furthermore, the reader could apply p’Bitek’s idea to any cultural clash and understand that a balanced blending of the cultures could settle the conflict. Thereby, analyses of the various literary techniques in Song of Lawino demonstrate that author Okot p’Bitek utilizes the specific techniques to suggest that both the Acholi and Western cultures be embraced, ultimately establishing the importance of integrating both old and new cultures when in need of a resolution.
Okot p’Bitek originally published Song of Lawino in Acholi in 1966 without translation mind, and the reader should note that when translated into English, certain lines from the Acholi version lost their meanings and effects. The following lines well prove the aforementioned point: “Listen, my husband, / You are the son of a Chief. / The pumpkin in the old homestead / Must not be uprooted!” (346 – 349). To the Western audience, the significance of the pumpkin remains as an unclear point. Here, p’Bitek in fact makes a comparison that Ocol giving up his Acholi culture for Westernization is similar to senseless destruction. Pumpkins are considered a luxury food in the Acholi culture, and moving to a new homestead does not become an excuse for uprooting such a valuable share of...
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