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Together, Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol, constitute a heated
debate over the future of Africa. In graphic metaphor and with dramatic
intensity, P'Bitek presents the conflict between the new and the
old, and in the process reveals a remarkable sensitivity to the
values of both.
Okot p'Bitek was born in Gulu, the largest town in Acholi town
in Uganda in 1931. He began writing at an early age. Okot played
for the Ugandan national soccer team, and in 1958, he remained in
England after a soccer tour to continue his education. He received
a certificate in education from Bristol University, and earned a
law degree from University College of Wales at Aberystwyth. In the
early 1960's he studied social anthropology at Oxford, and received
a B.Litt. He returned to Uganda to teach at Makerere University
in Kampala. In 1967, he went to teach at Nairobi University. He
died of a liver infection in 1982.
In 1953, he wrote his first novel, Lak Tar (White Teeth). It is
the story of a young Acholi man who must work away from home to
earn money for bridewealth, so that he may marry. After working
in Kampala and on a sugar plantation, he returns home with only
a small portion of the necessary sum. On his return trip, he is
pick pocketed, and returns to Gulu with nothing.