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Okot p’Bitek’s ‘Song of Lawino’ Makes it to BBC’s Top 100 Stories that Shaped the World

Okot p'Bitek's 'Song of Lawino' Ranked 63rd

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Fallen Ugandan poet Okot p’Bitek’s ‘Song of Lawino’ has made it to the BBC’s list of 100 top stories that shaped the world.

Song of Lawino is ranked 63rd on the list.

Okot p’Bitek was born in Northern Uganda’s Gulu in 1931 and passed on in 1982.

Song of Lawino is a long lamentation of a rural woman whose husband has been taken over by a fad for urban life and westernization.

Okot p'Bitek's Song of Lawino. Courtesy Collage
Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino. Courtesy Collage

Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe comes in at number five.

The top four stories are: 1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC); 2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852); 3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818); and 4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949).

Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf and Franz Kafka are the most popular authors, with three stories each.

The list is a result of nominations submitted by 108 authors, academics, journalists, critics and translators in 35 countries since April 2018.

Novels, poems, folk tales and dramas in 33 different languages were nominated.

 

BBC’s Top 100 Stories that Shaped the World

1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852)
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
7. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes, 1605-1615)
8. Hamlet (William Shakespeare, 1603)
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez, 1967)
10. The Iliad (Homer, 8th Century BC)
11. Beloved (Toni Morrison, 1987)
12. The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri, 1308-1320)
13. Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare, 1597)
14. The Epic of Gilgamesh (author unknown, circa 22nd-10th Centuries BC)
15. Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling, 1997-2007)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1985)
17. Ulysses (James Joyce, 1922)
18. Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945)
19. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)
20. Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert, 1856)
21. Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Luo Guanzhong, 1321-1323)
22. Journey to the West (Wu Cheng’en, circa 1592)
23. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevksy, 1866)
24. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813)
25. Water Margin (attributed to Shi Nai’an, 1589)
26. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy, 1865-1867)
27. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee, 1960)
28. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys, 1966)
29. Aesop’s Fables (Aesop, circa 620 to 560 BC)
30. Candide (Voltaire, 1759)
31. Medea (Euripides, 431 BC)
32. The Mahabharata (attributed to Vyasa, 4th Century BC)
33. King Lear (William Shakespeare, 1608)
34. The Tale of Genji (Murasaki Shikibu, before 1021)
35. The Sorrows of Young Werther (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1774)
36. The Trial (Franz Kafka, 1925)
37. Remembrance of Things Past (Marcel Proust, 1913-1927)
38. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847)
39. Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison, 1952)
40. Moby-Dick (Herman Melville, 1851)
41. Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937)
42. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)
43. The True Story of Ah Q (Lu Xun, 1921-1922)
44. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865)
45. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, 1873-1877)
46. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad, 1899)
47. Monkey Grip (Helen Garner, 1977)
48. Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)
49. Oedipus the King (Sophocles, 429 BC)
50. The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka, 1915)
51. The Oresteia (Aeschylus, 5th Century BC)
52. Cinderella (unknown author and date)
53. Howl (Allen Ginsberg, 1956)
54. Les Misérables (Victor Hugo, 1862)
55. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1871-1872)
56. Pedro Páramo (Juan Rulfo, 1955)
57. The Butterfly Lovers (folk story, various versions)
58. The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer, 1387)
59. The Panchatantra (attributed to Vishnu Sharma, circa 300 BC)
60. The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, 1881)
61. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1961)
62. The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists (Robert Tressell, 1914)
63. Song of Lawino (Okot p’Bitek, 1966)
64. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing, 1962)
65. Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981)
66. Nervous Conditions (Tsitsi Dangarembga, 1988)
67. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943)
68. The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967)
69. The Ramayana (attributed to Valmiki, 11th Century BC)
70. Antigone (Sophocles, c 441 BC)
71. Dracula (Bram Stoker, 1897)
72. The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K Le Guin, 1969)
73. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens, 1843)
74. América (Raúl Otero Reiche, 1980)
75. Before the Law (Franz Kafka, 1915)
76. Children of Gebelawi (Naguib Mahfouz, 1967)
77. Il Canzoniere (Petrarch, 1374)
78. Kebra Nagast (various authors, 1322)
79. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott, 1868-1869)
80. Metamorphoses (Ovid, 8 AD)
81. Omeros (Derek Walcott, 1990)
82. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1962)
83. Orlando (Virginia Woolf, 1928)
84. Rainbow Serpent (Aboriginal Australian story cycle, date unknown)
85. Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates, 1961)
86. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719)
87. Song of Myself (Walt Whitman, 1855)
88. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain, 1884)
89. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain, 1876)
90. The Aleph (Jorge Luis Borges, 1945)
91. The Eloquent Peasant (ancient Egyptian folk story, circa 2000 BC)
92. The Emperor’s New Clothes (Hans Christian Andersen, 1837)
93. The Jungle (Upton Sinclair, 1906)
94. The Khamriyyat (Abu Nuwas, late 8th-early 9th Century)
95. The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth, 1932)
96. The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)
97. The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie, 1988)
98. The Secret History (Donna Tartt, 1992)
99. The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats, 1962)
100. Toba Tek Singh (Saadat Hasan Manto, 1955)

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