The Defence of Lawino [Wer pa Lawino]
BY OKOT P'BITEK, TRANS. TABAN LO LIYONG
1969. Kampala: Fountain, 2001.
ISBN 9970022695. xvi + 115 pp.
Foreword by S. Raditlhao, preface by Taban to Liyong, and glossary.
Distributed by African Books Collective Ltd.
Let's start with an intriguing bit of literary archeology. Or maybe it's just idle gossip. Back in 1974, in the preface to his book The Horn of My Love, Okot p'Bitek admonished his fellow writer and countryman Taban to Liyong:
When, recently, my friend Taban to Liyong wept bitter tears over what he called the literary desert in East Africa, he was suffering from acute literary deafness, a disease which afflicts those who have been brainwashed to believe that literature exists only in books. Taban and his fast dwindling clan are victims of the class-ridden, dictionary meaning of the term literature, which restricts literary activity and enjoyment to the so-called literate peoples, and turns a deaf ear to the songs and stories of the vast majority of our people in the countryside. (ix)
With an almost gratuitous slap, p'Bitek concludes the opening …