A study on Okot p'Bitek's works ''Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol''

Topics: Colonialism, Africa, White people Pages: 13 (2273 words) Published: June 7, 2010
Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol � PAGE * MERGEFORMAT �1�

Okot p'Bitek worked as anthropologist, poet, novelist an even footballer which led him to go and being educated in England on law and anthropology and later literature. He differed himself from other African writers who wrote in western styles and in western point of view. He has chosen an African tool to express himself, a tool associated with oral tradition of Africa. He called it ''song''. He published his works in Acoli language however upon requested to translate them into English in one of his conferences, he translated his most famous works '' The Song of Lawino and The Song of Ocol'' into English. There is an important point here which should be mentioned. He said after translating them into English that I have clipped a bit of Eagle's wings and rendered the sharp edges of warrior's sword rusty and blunt and also murdered rhythm and rhyme as he thought his native language suited much better than English (Lindfors, 1977).

The Song of Lawino explores one African woman's (Lawino) feelings towards her husband's adoption of western life and Acoli life in details and is full of ironies. Okot reflects both the situation of the native people of an African country willing to imitate the western culture and way of life and the other group of people resisting so as not to lose their core values. Ocol is the character chosen for those representing the western puppets and his wife Lawino is the innocent native who has chosen the way for remaining fidel to her past and original values. In this condition, a clash between these people is inevitable. The whole story of the book is setting around this conflict. Every time Ocol criticizes his people's lifestyles and cultural practices. For instance, he criticizes his wife because she is sticked to her origin. On the other hand, Lawino is in a struggle of preserving her identity and advocating their own lifestyle. However, Ocol favors another woman instead of Lawino just because she has western characteristics like him. Okot demonstrated that only those who share the same values can live together. Ocol and other woman have already adopted what colonizers wanted and thus they act together.

Another important point Okot emphasized is that to colonize a country virtually is becoming hard and what is needed to be done according to the colonizer masters is to colonize the minds of the people in the target countries. African countries are among them. After they have imposed the western values into the minds of these people as portrayed in Okot's book, then there is no need to invade that country by force because they are already conquered. They are ready to give what the western powers demand.

In this book, Okot also sends messages to his countrymen and those who are in the position of writing and the people in his own country ; why do you insist on copying western lifestyle and concede your own values? Why don't you be what you are? This is one of the most significant messages sent to the native people in his country.

Before going into the deep in Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol, we should know more on Uganda, the place of the two works of Okot. The Acoli people pursued a living on farming and cattle herding. They lived in polygamous families under the leadership of husband who is responsible for the whole family. There were territories in which these families lived. British presence began in 1890s and these affected the customs and social situation of Acoli people profoundly. Some of the Acoli people were converted into Christianity which was a tool of colonialism. New leaders were appointed by British. One of the leaders like that is Ocol, one of the characters in Okot's works we will discuss. British people forced Acoli to grow cotton and coffee for cash. Their leaders worked in parallel with British orders. Uganda lived a sharp exploitation in those days. After the people withdrew from Uganda in 1960s, the outcomes...

References: Blishen, E. (1977). _An Introduction, in Song of a Prisoner by Okot p 'Bitek_: The Third Press.
Gale, T. (2008). Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol. Retrieved 03.06, 2010, from http://www.bookrags.com/research/song-of-lawino-and-song-of-ocol-wlait/
Heron, G. A. (1984). _"Introduction." In Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol_. London and Ibadan: Heinemann.
Lindfors, B. (1977). An interview with Okot p 'bitek. _Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 16_(2), 281-299.
Pbitek, O., & Horley, F. (1984). _Song of Lawino & Song of Ocol_. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
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