The image of the woman in Okot p'Bitek's Song of Lawino and song of Ocol
par Guershom Kambasu Muliro
Unviersité de Kisangani (RDC) - Licence 2007
He was first recognized as a major voice in African literature in 1966 when he published Song of Lawino, with which achieved a wide international recognition Song of Lawino, a long poem of around 5000 lines dealing with the tribulations of a rural African wife whose husband wishes every thing to be westernised. It was originally written in Acholi language, and offer translated into English.
It was a breakthrough work, creating an audience among Anglophone Africans for direct topical poetry in English, and in corporating traditional attitudes and thinking in accessible literary vehicle. It was followed by Song of Ocol (1970), husband's reply. In this song of Ocol Lawino's husband responses to her worries, expressing his disgust for African ways and the destructive force of his self-hatred. Okot p'Bitek's next major work two Songs (1971), won the Kenya Publishers Association's Jomo Kenyatta prize in 1972. Widely praised for its political significance, Song of Prisoner describes the anguish of a convicted criminal as he suffers from depression, delusions, and claustrophobia. The specific nature of the prisoner's crime remains unclear; he first claims that he was arrested for lottering in the park but later asserts that he has assassinated a political leader whom he describes as a «murderer, a racist , a tribalist , a clanist , a brotherist''. Song of Malaya, on the other hand, is narrated by a prostitute («Malaya» translates loosely to «whore») whose strength and stable personality prevail as she exposes the hypocrisy of tolerance for human diversity. In his later years P'Bitek focused on translating literature and in 1974 he published The Horn of My love, a collection of Acholi folk songs about death, ancient Acholi chiefs, love, and courtship. Hare and Hornbill (1978) is a collection of folk tales presenting both humans and animals as characters. In 1989 p'Bitek's first published work, a novel entitled Lak Tar Miyo Kinyoro wi Lobo?(Are Your Teeth White? Then Laugh!), was published in English for the first time as White Teeth.
Some elements in Okot p' Bitek's life and work will light us deepen his mind and face, his attitudes towards African leaders, particularly Acholi people. For instance Okot's mother was a traditional singer, a composer and leader of her clan. Okot also become a great singer of Acholi songs under the influence of his mother. Then he wrote those songs, songs of Lawino which is a plea for protection of Acoli cultural tradition from encroachment of Western influence. After he added Song of Ocol which is Lawino's husband responses to her worries, expressing his disgust for African ways and the distractive force of his self- hatred.
This Chapter is a key to the next chapters which will be developed.