ISBN 9789970022694
Pages 132
Dimensions 229 x 152 mm
Published 2001
Publisher Fountain Publishers, Uganda
Format Paperback

The Defence of Lawino

by Okot p'Bitek, Taban Lo Liyong

A new translation of the late Okot p'Bitek's classic epic poem 'Wer pa Lawino', first published in Acholi in 1969, and recently listed in Africa's 100 Best Books.

Lawino is a female voice, taking issue with her husband whom she witnesses imitating a European culture which is destroying a more deeply rooted African culture. The text is a deeply philosphical meditation on the suject of its original subtitle: 'The Culture of Your People You Do Not Abandon'. The translator is the distinguished Sudanese writer Taban lo Liyong, and colleague and friend of the author. His translation was twenty-two years in the making and began as a collaborative project with the author. Although the text was once translated into English by the author himself, lo Liyong asserts the need for a reworking from the orignal Acholi, since the author only loosely wrote an English version as a reaction, to satisfy an English speaking audience, and gave prominence to the parts which were most easily renderable into English.

Lo Liyong reproduces the original as faithfully as possible, attempting to convey the intricacies, nuances and thoughts of the whole text in a rhythmic English which suits the original discourse. He further intends his translation of the classic as an assertion of the need to engage with, and reflect upon the primacy of African languages and culture in a new era of cultural and linguistic dominance.

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'Taban lo Liyong and his publishers (Fountain in Kampala) and distributors (ABC in Oxford) are to be praised for this new and illuminating version of Wer pa Lawino.'

About the Authors

Okot p'Bitek

Okot p'Bitek 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 Acholi language, and self-translated to English, and published in 1966. It was a breakthrough work, creating an audience amongst 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 pendant Song of Ocol (1970), the husband's reply.

Taban Lo Liyong

Taban Lo Liyong is a Ugandan poet, critic, novelist, and short-story writer, was born of Ugandan parents in southern Sudan. He received his early education at Gulu High School and the Sir Samuel Baker School, and subsequently studied at a teachers' college in Uganda, at Howard University, USA (BA), and at the University of Iowa, USA, where he was the first African to receive the MFA degree in creative writing and where he cultivated his unconventional writing style. He has taught at several universities, including the University of Papua New Guinea, the University of Nairobi in Kenya, where he co-founded the department of literature with Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Juba University in Khartoum, Sudan. A former cultural affairs director in southern Sudan, he teaches at the University of Venda in South Africa.

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