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Song of Lawino: Chapter 3 analysis.

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cindy makau

on 17 September 2014

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Transcript of Song of Lawino: Chapter 3 analysis.

Through the 3rd chapter, Lawino allocates animalistic attributes to the people she describes. This allows us to understand the characteristics and behaviors of the characters more by linking them to those of the animals.

When describing the acholi dances and attire worn in the arena she says
“ All are seen in the arena ….” After which she describes “strong lion chests” of the acholi men. This gives the impression that the men are leaders “kings = lion” strong and therefore powerful. This gives us the impression that she feels that in the arena people portray their true selves once they are striped into the traditional cloth of dance, like an animal bare of clothes they show their true colours.

This idea is further carried on when she describes the female “ daughter of the bull” who is portrayed as a stubborn, prideful, independent woman which are characteristics linked with bulls.

Okot p'Bitek uses a lot of hyperboles to express Lawino's feelings. She has a strong hatred and disgust towards the western dances but she also has great pride and love towards her own cultural dances. The hyperboles that stood out are those relating to animals.

She (Lawino) talks about how the daughter of the bill behaves in the dance arena. There is much pride in the bull's daughter. The bull in this case is someone "Big" of sorts, someone prominent in the village. Someone to be respected. To be the bulls daughter, one would walk with pride and a feeling of superiority and value. That is what she thinks about the Acholi dances.

'And the women move like fish that have been poisoned'. Lawino is referring to the western women in this statement. She talks about them with almost pity. She portrays disgust as well as disappointment talking about how the westerners dance. Fish that have been poisoned will wriggle and shake in an unruly manner until they finally die. Lawino sees these western dances to be unruly, without order and basically a waste of time.
Overview Of Chapter
The title hints that the content of the chapter will relate to dance and maybe describe her perception of white dances and with the Acholi. In this title we see Lawino admitting to being “uneducated” hence she is not aware of the traditions of white people.

Depending on the perception of the reader, you could also interpret it as a prideful statement. Where she egoistically states that she does not know the dances and could not care less.
Throughout Chapter three, Lawino is praising the cultural dances of her people. She uses visual imagery to show the dynamism and vitality of the dances.

In Ocols point of view, the colonialists condemned the Acoli dances as immoral and disreputable because of the bare nakedness intensely depicted throughout this chapter with the use of Imagery.

Lawino rebukes Ocol and presents the openness, liveliness and healthiness of the Acoli traditional dances positively without regret or apology.
No cultures are the same but never the less, none are completely different. Okot p’BITEK meticulously makes use of those 5 main literary devices; imagery, metaphor, simile, anthropomorphization and hyperbole to successfully illustrate to the reader the differences between the Acoli and Western culture during celebrations.

The argument is visibly biased to the reader due to the fact that is it written in Lawino’s perspective, a member of the Acoli culture. Although, it is refreshing to hear a different side to the story as compared to the usual “westernization is the way forward” anthem.

Song of Lawino: Chapter 3 analysis.
"I do not know the dances of the white people"

By: Ashni, Yael, Sabeeha, Mich & Cindy Makau!!
In this chapter Lawino compares and contrasts the dances of the Acholi and west. She vividly describes both and exaggerates aspects in their traditions that make it clear for the reader to see her that bias lies toward the Acholi .

Lawino also touches on the topic of the sexual morality in both dances. She says that the west has condemned her peoples dances as immoral however they fail to see the lack of proper decorum in their own customs which to outsiders may come across as improper.

After each description, Lawino takes time to explain the emotion and history behind the Acholi dance and song which helps us connect with her and realize that there is a meaning behind their customs.

She describes the environment to be loud, energetic and joyful where people act dignified. She says that Acholi dances are not pretentious as you can not hide any of your flaws in the arena so people are exposed for who they are.

However, as she provides no explanation for the west, maybe hinting that there is no significance to their dance(that she knows of) and that may be why she can not relate to them. She describes the environment at their events as claustrophobic, smelly, and unhygienic. Where the people behave uncivilized.

Our Question :D
How does Okot p’BITEK present the differences between the Acoli and Western culture through traditional celebration in chapter 3?
Okot p'BITEK uses a few but very significant metaphoric illustrations in this chapter that helps the reader understand the differences of Acoli and Western celebrations.

“When by accident, The eyes of her lover
on her breasts
Do you think the young man sleeps. Do you know what
fire eats
his insides?”

innocence associated with lust.
consuming,erratic,intensely sensual feeling.

• Like stale beer that does not sell = alcohol portrayed as bad

• The tattoos on her chest
Are like palm fruits,
The tattoos on her back
Are like stars on a black night; = seem so beautiful, attractive adjectives
Her eyes sparkle like the
Her breasts are ripe
Like the full moon.

• They dance silently like wizards = wizards are negative, witchcraft

• You kiss her on the cheek
As white people do,
You kiss her open-sore lips
As white people do = repetition. specific style. Race.
You suck slimy saliva
From each other’s mouths
As white people do.

• And they dress up like white men = specific style
• Hot like inside a cave = comparing to african things
• Women move like fish
• Smoke like cumulus clouds
• Faeces descriptions

She uses imagery as a way to somewhat ridicule the life that Ocol has chosen and to intensifies the Acoli dances’ spark and free-spirited nature. Imagery also intensifies the speaker’s excited tone.
‘ I am ignorant of the dance of/ foreigners/ And how they dress/ I do not know,” she tells Ocol. “I cannot dance the rumba,/ My mother taught me/ The beautiful dance of Acoli/ I cannot dance the samba/

The physical imagery is even more prominent: “When the drums are throbbing/ And the black youths/ Have raised much dust/ You dance with vigour and/ health. You get the image of a very lively and blissful ambiance, people of all Acoli come together to dance and rejoice.

The choice of images are also very telling. So, in her register, Lawino is reducing the so-called elite ( the idea that white people are superior) to a less than human state, calling them’ fish’ and de humanizing them.

Women lie on the chests of men […]/ Women throw their arms/ Around the necks of their / partners […]/ Men hold the waist of the/ women/ Tightly, tightly ‘
That the European dances require women “being held so tightly” and laying their heads “on the chests of men” only reinforces Lawino’s imagery that the European norms impose on their wives is another way of former colonizers continuing their oppression of African people.

“Her eyes sparkle like fireflies” this shows us that here eyes are full of life and bright/happy. This brings the sense of wonder, that she is enjoying herself; therefore the dances of the acholi must be enjoyable. Characteristics associated with fireflies are energy , attraction and spirit.

After describing the acholi dance with such powerful and beautiful animals she continues to describe the white dances by describing the environment of the dance “like inside a hyenas den.” Hyenas are scavangers and not well liked. They are dirty and foul. This gives the idea that the area looks like it is rotting and disgusts her. It is not beautiful or lively.

She also says “ the women move like fish that have been poisoned….Small fish out of water” This tells us lawino thinks that the women look “possessed” and unnatural. They are not comfortable in this environment/they do not belong and it does not suit them. They are trying to be something they are not.

As compared to,

" and the lips of the men become
bloody with blood dripping
from the
lips; their teeth look as i they have been
in the mouth"

uninviting, repulsive, sickening & off-putting.
evil, unnatural & exaggerated
"they come to the dance
Lawino goes further and says,
lack of self-respect

"you smoke cigars,like white men, women smoke cigarettes like white women, And sip some
from the glasses"
poison-alcohol/westernization, quickly taking over the body the more you indulge in it.
Full transcript