Grappling with a conflict of cultures, the modern or western on one hand and the traditional on the other, it traces the trials of a traditional wife Lawino who is married to a rather mobile, university trained husband, Ocol. Her husband has fallen in love with another woman Clementine, mockingly referred to as Tina who, is not just educated but has taken on the ways of the white people. She is a modern girl.
Lawino, meanwhile, has not been to school. She was never baptized. She can’t dance like the white people and neither can she eat with forks. She is generally a village girl. And her husband Ocol is bitter with her. For this perceived ‘weaknesses,’ Lawino tells us, her husband insults her all the time. This does not stop at her though; Ocol also insults her parents in the process; the black people and all the African ways.
Lawino decides to speak back. The poem moves from her talking back to her husband, in a manner akin to giving counsel to a rather errant man, to reporting him in front of the clan elders. At one point she says, “My friend, age-mate of my brother/ take care” and at another, she says, “My clansmen, I cry, listen to my voice/the insults of my man/Are painful beyond bearing.”
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