25 January, 2006

Songs Of p'Bitek

Ugandan poet, anthropologist, and social critic, who wrote in Luo and in English. P'Bitek was one of the most vigorous and original voices in East African 20th-century poetry. His satirical monologues dealt with the conflict between European and African cultures. In his most famous poem, The Song of Lawino (1966), p'Bitek introduced a style that became known as "comic singing."

Stop despising people
As if you were a little foolish man,
Stop treating me like saltless ash
Become barren of insults and stupidity;
Who has ever uprooted the Pumpkin?
(from 'My Husband's Tongue Is Bitter,' in The Song of Lawino)

p'Bitek, Okot, 1931–82, Ugandan writer and anthropologist. Educated at the Univ. of Bristol, University College of Wales, and Oxford, p'Bitek is best known for three verse novels, Song of Lawino (1966), Song of Ocol (1970), and Two Songs (1971). In these works, he told poignant contemporary stories, using Acholi literary devices. In addition to his poetry, he also published works on Acholi culture. He was director of the National Theatre before teaching at University College, Nairobi (1971–78) and the Univ. of Ife in Nigeria (1978–82).

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