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The River and the Source

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  560 ratings  ·  67 reviews
In 1995, this novel won both the Jomo Kenyatta Literature Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book in the Africa Region. Now reprinted, it remains in great demand. An epic story spanning cultures, it tells the lives of three generations of women. It traces the story of Akoko in her rich traditional Luo setting, through to the children who live and die in t ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published December 29th 2004 by Focus Books
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Samuelngugy its start with the birth of akoko,where she spoke the first word......

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Andrew Kirimi
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book countless times between the ages of 16 and 20 and to date it remains my all time favourite book by an African author. As a huge supporter of all forms of feminist movements, I loved the fact that most of the story lines covered over the 4 generations are led by very strong female characters; all the way from the headstrong Akoko in the 1800's to Awiti and her children (Vera specifically!!)in the late 1900's. Faith, hard work, discipline, love, family and knowledge of self stand ...more
Nancy Oyula
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Possibly one of the best books to ever be published by a Kenyan author. I've read it a couple of times in my life. Every time I spot it, I feel like I should read it again from page one. I loved all the characters. ...more
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
About one family descended from the powerful Akoko, the matriarchial namesake we all would be lucky to call our ancestor, this book is about family ties, finding the way forward, and honouring those who came before you by living a life that is true to yourself. The history here, particularly in the beginning of the book was excellent, the characterization of Akoko’s various descendants were apt and relatable, and Ogala’s storytelling prowess was it. This book was a compelling read. However, once ...more
May 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
The first time I read this book I must've been 14/15 in my first year of high school. I was in an all girls secondary school back then and to pass the time (because there is nothing as boring as same sex schools and a boarding school no less!) I would read anything and everything.

I found this book quite magical telling stories about strong women who in their intelligence, strength and resilience reminded me so much of the women in my life. My Grandma, our strong matriarch who was so much like Ak
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in high School (as a compulsory literary text), really loved it, so much that I re-read it again and again. It also marked the beginning of my fascination with the Luo Culture. Last year, I was finally able to visit Kit-Mikayi, and I could still recall Mark Anthony Oloo Sigu's description of his homeland Seme, and was awed by the magnificence of the huge rocks. Beautiful narrative, lovely blend of the traditional and modern, not forgetting the strong women who keep the family's ...more
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A wonderful read... although the author is clearly a feminist. She kills all the male characters in the book to strengthen the female characters. An Interesting read all the same exploring issues faced in the African setting.
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book because it aptly describes the personal lives of three generations of (mostly)women that is influenced by the rapidly evolving times in Kenya i.e. from pre-colonialism sometime in the 1870s, to the colonial period, through post-colonialism (up to the 1990s). I'm honestly amazed at how well over 100 years are captured in under 300pages. After reading the book, it all felt so heavy in my mind. I felt so much had happened and I had really connected with many of the characters all ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Did this as set book in Highschool literature. Awesome read, still retains a copy in my library almost 15yrs later
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It never seems to grow old, the wisdom and lessons to be learnt from this book. One to be kept in a bookshelf to be removed time and again.
My children have to read this.
 Aggrey Odera
No exaggeration at all: I've read this book more than twenty times over the course of my life, sometimes (mostly around the time when I was eleven or twelve), I would finish the story and immediately begin reading the book once again, doing this maybe four consecutive times. The book is about four generations of Luo women (my family is from the Luo tribe in Kenya) and the families they raise, and it traverses the history of modern Kenya, from pre colonial times all the way to the years after ind ...more
Mar 05, 2011 rated it liked it
It was a warm story displaying the importance of family over the generations. I found myself more intrigued by the words of wisdom passed down through the years. I'm sure my kids will be hearing a few of them. ...more
Sabrin Ahmed
Read this in Kenya and the three generation thingy and the uniqueness was so cool.However,the fact that they're all smart and successful makes the story a little ...ummmm...convenient and unrealistic. ...more
Jose Manuel Gude
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, full of character and strength. One book about life and death, looking the problems in the eye. And about virtue, virtue in real life for authentic people.
Kagwima Wakahora
The book inspired my vocation too as a Priest
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
School. School. School.
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this story of four generations of a family in Kenya. It begins with the birth of a girl, Akoko Obanda, the daughter of a chief who marries a chief and has a rare monogamous relationship with him despite the urgings from all sides for him to take more wives. Akoko is a strong, hard working woman, more, she's a woman of deep character and it's easy to love her. She survives tragedy after tragedy with fortitude and courage. She's a mother-- of two sons and a daughter-- a grandmother who fig ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I gave the book fours stars for its conspicuous theme of-of showing that inter-ethnic integration is possible. Equity among women and men is possible. Polytheism and monotheism religions have a place in an African and can co-exist without conflict.

I removed two stars from the four because this book achieves its two other motives, empowering girls while diminishing boys. The theme revolves around the achievements of women despite the extortionist men around them (Akoko vs brother in law)
Women are
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This book has received such glowing reviews that I almost feel bad about giving it only 3 stars.
The truth is, I only connected with the first half of the book. I loved Akoko and invested heavily in her story. I hoped to know more about how everyone would cope with the arrival of the colonialists. I was pretty invested in the first two generations of this family.

But then the massive time jumps started and all my favourites got lost somewhere, and I was bombarded by new characters, and not given
Fai Kavochi
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-writers
I did not notice that I had reached the end of this book till I opened the Last page and got so dissapointed that such a sweet story could be so short.

I love the way the author transitions from one generation to onother in such a seamless way. It's a book that covers both the traditional and modern African society in a very beautifully told story.

Through this book I have lived six generations! From the great chief Odero Gogni to Elizabeth's children. Indeed a home without daughters is like a
Alex Elko
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was recommended this book to get to know Kenyan, and in particular, Luo culture. I should be honest to say that I expected more from a cultural point of view. But at the same time, I was glad to see the way Christianity came to Kenya and how it changed people's lives.
I couldn't but notice and appreciate the value of women empowerment and education that the author brought up. The story is definitely most inspiring for those struggling and trying to change their lives for better, as well as for
John Shabaya
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The way Margaret Ogola tells the Luo story is very impressive. It rekindled my interest in the culture and history of Kenya, from the pre-colonial, colonial, and finally post-colonial era, focused on the subsequent changes in one part of Kenya around the great Lake Victoria and surrounding Luo people. It indeed shows so much has happened in the Luo community and Kenya at large. I liked her style of telling the story, particularly, from a woman’s perspective.
I loved the quote: ‘for the great rive
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In this book, Margaret Ogola does a beautiful job of taking you on a journey with her through generations -- the cultural shifts brought by colonialism and globalization are laid out in the lives of the women she highlights. It's also a story of family, perseverance, suffering, and the love of family. I read this book while on a trip to Kenya and am really glad I did!

Why I gave it 3 stars: While I enjoyed the story line, there were a few underdeveloped characters and plot points, which I wish sh
Lori Thomas
Jun 02, 2018 rated it liked it
On the fifth day Akoko embarked on a journey which would bring her and her scant offspring to a new era; for the great river starts its journey as a little stream which at first meanders around without any apparent direction, sometimes disappearing underground altogether, but always there, always moving toward the sea. P 71
Akoko. She it was who had been the source of this river which at one point had trickled to a mere rivulet in danger of petering out, but which once again in her grand-daughter
Amufwa Ndalo
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
this is an awsome book i read back then when i was in high school. I loved the way Margaret is able to show and explain how Kenya used to during the "colonial era". She is also able to potray chauvenism in the traditonal society which is kind sad for the girl child. The only problem with the book is that Margaret thinks the only way to make it is through science from the proffesions her charactors do. Anyway the way she potrays family relationship between Akoko and her brother is so amazing. ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I really liked part one of this novel, getting to know the powerful Akoko and her life. However, as the story progressed, I felt it was more an annotated family tree. Readers are rushed through four generations in 300 pages. To know this family, I would have appreciated a narrower focus or a longer text.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read! I really enjoyed it, it was an easy read, insightful, educative on luo culture and best to listen to from a woman's perspective over three generations. It was a wonderful read because women are strong and have been and it has been understated and unappreciated especially in Kenyan traditional culture. Highly recommend. ...more
Deb Hankens
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
In a time of woman power, this is an interesting read about 20th century Kenya and how it went from isolated tribal villages to a country in touch with the world through the lives of three women: a grandmother, a mother and a daughter.
Odhiambo Titus
Oct 26, 2020 marked it as to-read
Have read the book so many times and and it has made me to understand the African culture and the heritage,the book book is based on Luo culture,way of life,social and economic growth. I lie ready Akoko Obanda .
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of my favourite works by an African author, lacking the overpopulation of depressing colonial imagery.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Read this in a afternoon and Iliked iit.
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