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The She in Her: An Analysis of Ogot’s The Rain Came
A wise woman aspires to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman will not be victimized by anyone. -Maya Angelou
In all the years that I have developed a consciousness like mine, I have been slapped in the face by the fundamentals that light up the universe and the smallest part of it is what women are. A woman is often depicted as a gift from heaven, beautiful and elegant, or a royal in distress saved by a hero who discourages her, or an evil witch behind every man’s failure. . But a woman is not a gift, she is not a property, she is not an asset. A woman is not one to be saved, if she is to be protected, then from what? And yes, this paragraph is always in my feminist articles. The most exhausting thing about feminism is the fact that we still have to fight for our image as individuals, which is a change from how I know that the human purpose is to break away from the chains of stereotypical. . People try to debunk and destroy what exists, from beliefs to lifestyles and even the right color of pants to match your socks. This urge to be free is the reason why Jose was shot in a park, why Romeo and Juliet died, and why all the revolutions and wars happened.
Grace Ogot or Grace Emily Akinyi, the Kenyan writer who is the author of the story ‘The Rain Came’ and many other stories, presents the “Breaking-out” moment through the struggle of the characters against the binding that chains of traditions and cultures. . Many of his stories are set against the scenic background of Lake Victoria and the traditions of the Luo people. The Luo people are fascinating, in fact very fascinating, especially in their traditions. They do not perform the usual male circumcision ritual; instead they pull the 6 front teeth as a sign of initiation towards manhood. And these traditions are the common theme of Ogot’s stories, including folklore, mythology and sometimes, oral traditions.
This theme is really at the heart of “The Rain Came”, a story about a chieftain’s daughter whom the gods choose to sacrifice in order to bring rain. The story was originally titled “A Year of Sacrifice” but changed to what it is now for reasons I never got into. Ogot’s inspirations for writing are mostly stories his grandmother told him when he was young and his perspective on the contradictions of social tradition was further nurtured when he worked as a nurse and midwife in Uganda and England. He also represents his people in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).
In the story “The Rain Came” many traditional beliefs and social norms are presented. The element of sacrifice, suppression of women’s rights, gender inequality, and the power of traditions are established. That statement will be explained through the following analysis.
The story portrays Labong’o as a leader who, throughout his life, tried to accept the order of the Luo ancestors. He married five women so that he could have a daughter, and there came Oganda, but confusion began when the ancestors came to the medicine man, Ndithi’s dreams, that Oganda was chosen to be the sacrifice that piece of lake monster to finish. the drought and attracts the rain.
There are two implications of sacrifice in Labong’o’s character. First is that he has no choice but to marry and remarry until he finally has a daughter, who, as said, ironically was taken from him, making his efforts irrelevant, if I may say so. .
The second sacrifice was his daughter. As the leader of the people, he is obliged to always choose the prosperity of the town above anything or anyone, whether it is his family, or himself. This is where the conflict between his role as chief and father begins.
”Never in his life had he faced such an impossible decision. Refusal to accede to the rainmaker’s request would mean sacrificing the entire tribe, putting the interests of the individual above the interests of society. More than that. This means defying the ancestors, and possibly wiping the Luo off the face of the earth. On the other hand, allowing Oganda to die as a ransom for the people will permanently cripple Labong’o spiritually. He knows that he will never be the same leader again.”
He is torn between tradition and family, but as all contradictions in the world end, one of the opposing aspects prevails, and this is his role as a great ruler. He chose to let Oganda go to the lake and die for the rain to come, to let the people live, to remain the great chief who always presides over the town.
“The ancestors chose him as a sacrifice to the lake monster so that we would have rain.”
That was the line that Labong’o spoke before the people as a declaration of Oganda’s destiny. Oganda was the chief of the daughter of the Luo people, and yet, her condition did not help to change her destiny. He was chosen by the ancestors and there was nothing neither he nor his father could do against it.
Oganda is a name that literally means ‘beans’ because of his white skin, which is a rarity among the Luo people who are native to the ebony people.
When his family was sitting in the room with him outside, he thought that maybe they were just planning his wedding, and that alone meant the inability of the women in their society to make the stand on his own marriage. But the truth is, Oganda, and all other women in their society just accept that as part of their lives, and no sign of resistance from any female species is shown. They just accept what society offers, it doesn’t matter if they deserve it, whatever they dictate, and that’s the only sacrifice.
He was scared at first, which is a natural reaction when you know your life has to end for the safety of the crowd, but he still bravely walks alone to the lake and succumbs to his own death. Her bravery has been established, giving honor to the women’s team, but Ogot made a twist. The man that Oganda loved, and clearly loved her back, went behind her in the middle of her journey to the lake, and saved her.
“We must escape immediately to the unknown land,” said Osinda urgently. “We must run from the anger of the ancestors and the vengeance of the monster.”
When the situation becomes difficult, when he is drained of everything without any water to drink, someone comes and saves him. Osinda, the great and the wonderful, approached his assistant. It’s so cliché on so many levels like how Superman always saves Lois Lane, like Spiderman to Mary Jane. The men behind the hero masks, which reminds me of how female superhero characters are presented with minimal costumes and perfect hair amidst all the fights and stunts. The way the media portrays beauty makes me want to puke.
What does it really mean to be a woman? In this story there are many mirrors that show women. Oganda is the woman who sacrificed. Even in Greek mythology, women sacrificed, even the Gods. Hestia sacrificed her throne for Dionysus. Oganda’s mother is also a reflection. Her mother was saddened, actually sad, that her only daughter had to die so that others could live, but the only thing she could do was cry. Women are sometimes powerless. They are always subordinate to husbands and subordinate to the rules of society, and I don’t mean this literally.
Finally, Oganda ran away with Osinda from the town and all its people. He accepts Osinda’s offer to run away and live happily ever after, away from the lake monster, away from the eyes of his ancestors, and away from his family. And when they turned away, the sky darkened and there were drops of water. It’s raining. Everyone received their happiness.
Rain is one of the most emotional symbols used in literature, and in this story, all the actions of the characters are connected to this rain. The people of the town began to panic because it had been a long time since the last rain and their resources were depleted, and the fear of death among them began to rise as the drought came. And as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures, so people decide to sacrifice a woman who has never met a man, which means a ‘virgin’ , to give rain, which is a barbaric thing to do. . All this sacrifice that happened in the story made me think that in all the stories I read, it is a ‘must’ that the person to be sacrificed is always a virgin woman, even in the bible (Jephtha’s son). Why not a virgin man?
However, at the end of the story, even though Oganda was never sacrificed and swallowed by the lake monster, the sky is still raining. It could be explained that, Oganda accepting her destiny as a sacrificial lamb was enough to please the ancestors and give them the rain they wanted.
This story is proof of how traditions influence a person’s decisions and actions. What we are today as individuals and as the human race as a whole, is the result of centuries and centuries of conditioning. Who can say that one’s traditions and beliefs are wrong? Who will say that we belong to a generation of idiots that our brains have been replaced by a virtual world that we have developed and live together, called the internet? What does it really mean to be a woman? Who sets the rules? I don’t know the answers to my own questions, all I know is that we all have our own mind and responsibility to use it.
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