Changing Times in ‘The River and the Source’

My literature lesson today looks at ‘change’ and its influence on the plot and the characters in the novel. To begin with, we need to bear in mind that ‘change’ refers to a situation that becomes different from the previous. Change begins, in this society, when Akoko’s father breaks tradition by asking for thirty head of cattle as Akoko’s bride price. This is two and a half times the normal dowry.

79cf7b2779a96d7e7dcdb55400d5ac67You can get the full plot summary of the text here

Change is also seen when Chief Owuor Kembo refuses to take another wife as was tradition for a chief. He is contented with a monogamous marriage which is against the society’s expectations.

Obura, who is the Chief’s heir, goes against tradition by disobeying his parents’ wishes and running away to fight in the white man’s war in Tanganyika.

A change in situations

There is also change when for the first time in many years, Sakwa is without a Chief. This happens after the death of Owang’ Sino which leaves a baby – Owuor Sino – as the rightful heir. As Owuor is too young to rule, Otieno Kembo is, temporarily, given the seat. This change of leadership brings misery to Akoko because Otieno starts to plunder his late brother’s wealth and later Akoko’s. Akoko decides to take matters into her own hands to stop this madness from Otieno.

Akoko undertakes a very treacherous journey from Sakwa to Kisuma and discovers that life has changed considerably in other parts of the country. Akoko discovers that the place is no longer called ‘Kisuma’ but ‘Kisumu’ and that money has been introduced by the white man called ‘pesa’. Akoko also discovers a white Chief who is more powerful than the one in Sakwa. She also learns of the ‘Sirikal’ which is in charge of everything.

A Break from Tradition?

Change also comes in the form of a new religion that is different from the traditional beliefs. Christianity, which is brought by the white man, offers shelter to the needy, oppressed and neglected people. Akoko and her daughter, Nyabera leave their matrimonial homes and join the new faith in Aluor Mission. Akoko, later, breaks tradition by being buried at the mission instead of her matrimonial home as tradition required.

Peter Owuor Kembo also breaks tradition by refusing to take up the Chiefdom and instead, opts to become a priest. Other descendants of Akoko like Tony and Vera follow in his footsteps as they take up the new religion.

Change is seen in the marriage between Mark and Awiti. A ‘jawangyo’ (a go-between) is not involved and the parents are the last people to be informed. A token is given instead of a bride price and the couple goes to live far away from home – Nakuru. The marriage between Aoro and Wandia breaks language and tribal barriers while Becky and John Courtney break racial barriers.

Behavioral Change

There is change in the morals of people as evidenced at Vera’s university. People become more promiscuous, for example, Becky changes men ‘like clothes’ and HIV/AIDS spreads like wildfire.

Change is also seen in education where more and more girls are given the opportunity to attend school and succeed in areas that were thought to be for boys only. Vera, for instance, excels in school and becomes an electrical engineer, Awiti becomes a teacher and Wandia becomes a doctor and later, a professor.

Women as Agents of Change

In this text, change has been predominantly steered by women like Akoko, Nyabera, Awiti and Wandia. They have been used as instruments of change in society and their roles have, significantly, led to the success of others around them.

For more readings on the major themes in the Margaret Ogola’s ‘The River and the Source’, click here

 

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Christine
Christine
5 years ago

I like the old one,it was more elaborated compared to this

Charity
Charity
5 years ago

Hi.kindly post language use and style in the novel the river and the source.thank you.

Ibrahim Wanyoko
4 years ago

you have really inspired me towards literature.

sophie
sophie
4 years ago

I like the approach. Pls respond to this question. Elizabeth Awiti’s determination is what an African girl-child needs to succeed. Justify

dave
dave
4 years ago

you’ve really given a very simple,precise answer and most importantly in a coherent manner. just to add Awiti is a character to emulate in the partriachal society portrayed in the novel. despite all odds,she proves that women can endure,persevere and achieve what men can.am really moved by the text

Abdirahman
4 years ago

Thanks Mr john for your neat work.

mohamed ali
4 years ago

can you please tell me why otieno, the brother of chief owour kembo refused for his brother to marry akoko

mohamed ali
4 years ago

can you please tell me why otieno, the brother of chief owour kembo refused for his brother to marry akoko
. thanks

Erick
Erick
4 years ago

thanks for your concern, actualy you’ve made me to understand well what I had never understood

Tewan
Tewan
4 years ago

allow me to deviate a bit..how can u address the case of language to use in penning down African text.. it has been a contentious issue in Africa for decade and am yet to join any camp..whether be a Ngugian(read ngugis idea) or chinuan(read achebes take). polish it somehow

Ahmed Kassim
Ahmed Kassim
4 years ago

I am a secondary school literature teacher. I use your website to compliment on my class notes. Thank you for the good work and keep it up.

Please let me know if I can get sample KCSE papers with solutions on 1. The River and The Source – Essays
2. The Caucasian Chalk Circle – Excerpts

Thank you.

Abby
Abby
3 years ago

wow,this is good work Jon.it has really boosted my knowledge in the river and the source.keep it up

SimonK.
SimonK.
3 years ago

Hi… it’s a superb work done. Very precise and to the point. Congrats

Brain
Brain
3 years ago

Thank you for your elaborate explanation. Please send me analysis of river n source together with betrayal in the city

Mustafa
Mustafa
3 years ago

I neva thot i wud get such nice notes on the net. U r an inspiration to many n keep up pal. Thenx a million for all that u have given us. May God bless ya

pinchez
pinchez
3 years ago

hi, jon. i have an essy which i dont know how to respond to it. “the first convert to christianity are pushed into changes” illustrate the statement by drawwing your statement from river and the source.

caleb
caleb
3 years ago

please i would like to know why did the author decided to kill so many people in the text??

Burhan
3 years ago

thanks jon.I realy apriciate your helping its realy boost my knowledge in this set of river and the source

Moris
Moris
3 years ago

I like how you have simplified the theme ,kindly help me on identifying the theme of letters.

tyunny
tyunny
3 years ago

thumbs up brother Jon. continue with the same spirit

Osman
Osman
3 years ago

good work John. i lke the way you respond to questions with precise answers. keep it up.

Edgar Wafula
Edgar Wafula
2 years ago

superb

Edgar Wafula
Edgar Wafula
2 years ago

kindly send me a full summary via email

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