Ocol’s swipe

This week we end Ocol’s swipe across the African continent on a cultural mission of cleansing. His intent to put to extinction works of academics that are inclined to preserving the cultural life of an ancient continent is thorough and profoundly deep. The attack on moribund philosophies and ideological cultural leanings of literary movements like Negritude, African Personality, Bantu Philosophies and a panoply of African court poets is intentional and Ocol would offer no apologies for it.No matter how strong the protest Aime Cesaire would make on behalf of others such philosophies have certainly had their day, so says Ocol:

My negritude is not a stone, its deafness hurled against the clamour
Of the day,
My negritude is not a speck of dead water on the dead eye of the
My negritude is neither a tower nor a cathedral
It thrusts into the red flesh of the soil
It thrusts into the burning flesh of the sky

Forget the rhetoric: who cares if negritude is not a stone or speck of dead water? Ocol would not care even if it was not a Cathedral, Tower or whatever else. As a matter of fact, it is a stone that has smashed the progress which Africa needs the most; it is a speck of dead water that has dwarfed the growth of Ocol’s development of Africa. Despite its fine imagery, the thrust is a mere fantasy typical of Negritudists; Ocol would simply muse about it. All assumed African cultural apologists need not live to resurrect such reservoirs of shame and retrogression whether they appear in form of University academics, historians or anthropologists or Negroes in search of roots on the Africa soil, or indeed in the glittering images of metaphysical union between man and earth as in the glamorous poetry of Cesaire. Apparently, this brand of cultural chauvinists is little hard nut to crack compared to rural tribal dogmatists whose roots are not deep enough to resist any intended crusade of annihilation.


Dear reader, we end our examination of Ocol’s attack on Lawino at this point. I am sure a conclusion can be made about the new Africa set against the back drop of the old, an embodiment of Lawino and her kind. Okot’s attempt was to give us a response through Ocol to Lawino’s lamentations. It is up to the reader to draw a conclusion as to exactly where we are now and the kind of Africa Ocol is carving for his generation (or, is it ours?)

/ Hildah Lumba, Times of Zambia

(Ocol und Lawino sind Figuren aus zwei komplementären englischsprachigen Versepen des ugandischen Dichters Okot p’Bitek: Ocols Lied / Lawinos Lied)

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