b. 1942, Uganda
poet, novelist, and political scientist
The Ugandan poet, novelist, and political scientist Okello Oculi came to prominence with the publication of Orphan (1968), a long poem fashioned after Okot p'Bitek's ground-breaking poem Song of Lawino, which had been published two years earlier. Oculi's poem was welcomed by critics of African literature who saw it as an important addition to what became known as the "song school" of poetry in East Africa. The poem explores the fate of an orphan boy named Okello and uses various characters in his village to comment on the fate of the orphan. The diverse views of the characters give the reader a graphic picture of what lies ahead for the orphan as he tries to survive in a hostile environment, caught between the worldviews of his stepmother, who holds him responsible for the death of his mother, and his grandfather, who is more positive about the fate of the orphan. The poem challenges the reader to take stock of his/her own attitude to the many orphans in our communities, the products of our modern postcolonial society (see colonialism, neocolonialism, and postcolonialism). Oculi's other long poem, Malak (1976), is also fashioned on the "song" tradition and dramatizes the conflicting positions of two speakers to present competing views of African society as it struggles to secure an identity between the claims of precolonial values and encroaching modernity (see modernity and modernism). Similar concerns are taken up in Oculi's short novels, including Prostitute (1968) and Kookolem (1978).
teacher and novelist
Ude Odilora, a schoolteacher by profession, has published only one novel, Okpa Aku Eri Eri (The Miser) (1981), albeit a novel that is extremely popular with students, teachers, and the general reader in Eastern Nigeria. This is apparently because of its theme, which addresses the Igbo perennial love of material acquisitions and wealth to the point of worshipping material possessions. In his preface to the novel, Odilora points out that the pursuit of wealth and material possessions is in itself not bad, but when it becomes an obsession to the total disregard of the fine virtues and sane values of human existence it invariably leads to tragedy. Success through hard work is advocated, but success which negates pleasure and good neighborliness is the bane of human existence. These are the aspects of life portrayed in the story and symbolized by the hero, Akubuzo, from the checkered nature of whose experiences in life the author asks the reader to learn. Okpa Aku Eri Eri is a well-crafted novel which has been praised for the structural unity of its plot, a conscientious development of true-to-life characters, and a dexterous use of language. Critics draw attention to charming