The River and the Source by Margaret Ogola, book review

The River and the Source is among the few out-standing works tagged African literature. In this novel touching on family ties and continuity of the authentic African social fabric, Margaret Ogola exemplified her prowess in creative writing in a captivating and informative narrative. The River and the Source Novel was first published in 1994, and became the first among Margaret Ogola’s three notable novels. The novel is currently a literature study text in Kenya. Other literary works written by Margaret Ogola prior to her demise are: Cardinal Otunga: A Gift of Grace with Margaret Roche (1999); I Swear by Apollo (2002); Place of Destiny (2005). The novel “I Swear by Apollo” was written as a sequel to The River and The Source.

Summary & Review

The story-line in The River and The Source follows the inter-related lives of women across four generations. As evident in the novel, social changes occurring in the course of time has significant impact on the way the society views women, and accords them opportunities. Margaret Ogola successfully captures these changing perceptions over time, and eventually portrays the place of women in the modern African society. She skillfully shows how these experiences are more or less similar or related, though occurring in different time dispensations.

The setting of the story is in Kenya, with the use of language and thematic concerns showing a deep appreciation of the Luo Culture. Moreover, the themes addressed in the story are applicable to the general African context. As the events is the story are set in the post-colonial period, the Margaret Ogola makes strong statements in relation to the advancement of women’s rights for the African context. Her feminist approach to writing does not look down at men in society, for the elevation of women’s status. On the contrary, the author’s creativity molds the African woman as innately strong, whose strength need only be acknowledged and therefore awakened. She steers clear of showing competition between men and women in African societies, and gives the idea that all can work together for mutual benefits.

Margaret Ogola also shows the similarity of challenges experienced by women across time, where the different generations of women seemingly share in the experiences of oppression, and their ability of overcoming the oppressive lifestyle imposed on them. The length of the book does justice to the author’s intentions to tell her story. As you flip through the pages, which otherwise seem inexhaustible, you become more and more engaged with the story. The young African reader can easily relate with the imagery on African lifestyle, as depicted in the story. The general readership is easily captivated by the artistic narration of events, crowning Ogola as one of the prolific African writers in the past few decades. Margaret Ogola is therefore successful in her intentions to tell the story. She creatively informs on the plight of the African woman, and gives insight on her abilities wherever she is given the opportunity to perform.

The themes, characters, setting and audience add taste to the narrative. The unfolding of events from one chapter to the next reveals the hidden patterns in the novel, which assist the author in telling her story. Hence, the plot of novel is divided into four parts;

*Part 1: The Girl Child     *Part 2: The Art of Giving     *Part 3: Love and Life     *Part 4: Variable winds

14 thoughts on “The River and the Source by Margaret Ogola, book review

  1. Ng'ang'a Mwangi

    Talk about Africans living outside the orbits of capitalism, and the dynamics of life. This and other issues can be found in this text. A must read I would say.

    1. African-literature Post author

      Thank you Ng’ang’a Mwangi for your contribution. Find more book reviews on the site and feel free to share your thoughts.

  2. Keshi

    Am reading this reviews and they are captivating. The book is an indicator that a woman can stand strong without putting a man down. Positive feminism is real

  3. Kakayaw Kazbeky

    Am reading it and I just realised the place of a girl child or a woman in a society is very important thanks a lot GOD BLESS


      God bless in all your live with your hardworking

  4. Kakayaw Kazbeky

    Am reading it and I have just realised the place of a girl child or a woman in a society is very important thanks a lot GOD BLESS

  5. Enock Nyamcti Ochanda

    I thank God for letting Dr. Margret Ogola to introduce the novel ‘The River and The Source’ of which I did it in my Form Four course year 2014. I enjoyed the novel daytime and at night and even my leisure time.

    1. Purity Natalia

      I did this book in highschool,one of the best novels in Kenya,I must say…can’t get enough of it,very creative,expanding minds and sweet to read.Margaret Ogolla,Ngugi wa Thiong’o ,China Achebe among others I love your books

  6. Erick muchangi(atom)

    Indeed this is my best novel ever.The numerous pages which make the story to flow logically keep the reader in touch with the book.CONGRATULATIONS DR MARGARET OGOLA!!

  7. Joshua musyoka

    The best book ever and I also thank God for letting DR MARGRET OGOLA to write a great novel like this long live the great Margret Ogola!!!!

  8. miriam jedidah

    Ithank God for grading Margaret A.Ogola with knowledge to write such interesting novel….

  9. Christine Oyugi

    The novel is a great work of African lit. it embodies the resilience of the African woman. I appreciate the review, as it makes useful highlights of the text. bdw I swear by Apollo is another fantastic work. once you have read The Rivera and the Source, its plot really falls in place, making it a very intriguing read

  10. palglade

    This is so great , am encouraged and motivated as a novice writer. Our writers have a beautiful way of presenting their incredible information. looking forward to reading more of the reviews.


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