DISCUSS HOW DEATH HAS BEEN USED AS A MOTIF IN THE NOVEL THE RIVER AND THE SOURCE BY MARGARET OGOLLA.
Motif: an idea that is used many times in a piece of writing or music. (Cambridge advanced learner’s Dictionary)
Motif: A unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work. (Sage Dictionary)
Death is ever present in The River and the Source. It shows transition from one perspective to another. It indulges us to answer the imminent question; after death, what next? From the life of Akoko and her family; the people of Sakwa we learn from the death of AORO that even in the time of loss of the potential heir, the society has to go on. In this regard, we see the people of Sakwa focusing their attention on the demeanour of Owang’ Sino.
Owang’Sino takes over leadership after the death of his father. He is respected as the chief until he chokes on the bone of fish. Inevitable as it is, the people of Sakwa contend with the leadership of Otieno Kembo. Suffice to say, the death of Owang’Sino marks a quick transition to modern leadership. His demise leads Akoko to seek foreign intervention to the thriving conflicts at home.
She seeks counsel from the DO, who after deliberation promises to safeguard the orphan Owang’sino left behind-Owuor Sino. Akoko cannot afford to fight for her right given that the Luo are a patrilineal society. Her grip on authority, diminishes with the death of Owang’Sino. Owuor Sino was the only male in her lineage and he was very young to mark authority. Akoko is forced to return to her father’s home.
The death of Okumu portends the futility in Nyabera’s quest to build a large family near her mother’s domicile. She despairs, tries to build another family with the Ogoma Kwach, who inherited her but her attempts fail.
She opens her eyes to a Christian God. She realizes that, in the quest to be recognized in the society-having children, is futile. In faith she is baptized but before she could find complete comfort, she tries to get more children. She is surrounded by death until she concedes to acceptance.
Akoko’s demise is remarkably an end of an era. The era of change acceptance and traditions is buried with her in the loins of Aluor. She is buried in her new home away from her matrimonial home bedecked by modernity and Christianity.
We can snapshoot the death of Nyabera as the beginning of an end. The only hope to the tradition which Elizabeth clings to; but has to give up, when Nyabera’s soul rejects the body, in the hospital in Kisumu. Elizabeth collects her twins and solemnly forges a new society devoid the traditions of Aluor, inherited from Sakwa.
Significant is the death of Rebbecah, Becky, the beautiful blossom. The reality of her death marks the new amorous nature of modernity which comes with a price: AIDS. Her quietus rings the detriment of irresponsible sexual behavior and desire for affluence in materialism. We question parenthood while comparing her to her twin sister: Verah.
Finally, there is the death of Elizabeth Awiti. Quietly, after Doctoral celebrations- she stealthily breaks down to her hearts misgivings. She is buried beside her daughter and the earth smiles at the belated souls of the great chief Awour Kembo.