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