Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol

Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol are among the most successful African literary works. Song of Lawino is an African woman’s lamentation over the cultural death of her western educated husband – Ocol. In Song of Ocel the husband tries to justify his cultural apostasy. These songs were translated from Acholi by the author. They evince a fascinating flavour of the African rhythmical idiom.

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Okot p'Bitek

Okot p’Bitek (7 June 1931 – 20 July 1982) was a Ugandan poet, who achieved wide international recognition for Song of Lawino, a long poem dealing with the tribulations of a rural African wife whose husband has taken up urban life and wishes everything to be westernised. Song of Lawino was originally written in the Acholi dialect of Southern Luo, translated by the author into English, and published in 1966. It was a breakthrough work, creating an audience among anglophone Africans for direct, topical poetry in English; and incorporating traditional attitudes and thinking in an accessible yet faithful literary vehicle. It was followed by the Song of Ocol (1970), the husband’s reply.

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