Social Transformations and Re-Negotiating Identity in a Plural Cultural Space in Margaret Ogala's the River and the Source


Jairus Omuteche


The paper evaluates the depiction of a pluralistic identity of Kenya that foregrounds the country's diversity by Margaret Ogola in her works, specifically focusing on her first novel The River and the Source and its sequel, I Swear by Apollo. Ogola makes conscious choices and attempts to deconstruct literary and popular representations that tend to privilege perspectives of monolithic ethnocentric images of the country's national identity. In the face of the challenges of essentialising ethnocentric purities and the way they are used to undermine Kenya's national identity that is decidedly diverse and cosmopolitan, Ogola emphasises an alternative imaginary that recognises the space for a plural co-existence.   

Ogola further reflects the role of historical changes that have re-shaped the relationships between individuals and communities in Kenya. The changes have resulted into significant shifts in the cultural landscape of the society, impacting on how individuals and groups relate to each other and identify themselves. Interminglings are not just locally situated in Kenya, but rather Ogala shows that the forces of globalisation impacts on how Kenyans experience their total identification and their day-to-day-being in the world. Therefore, the paper interrogates the manifestations of internationalization, the resultant transnational consciousness and the internal Kenyan cross-cultural interrelationships in re-shaping the sense of identity of individuals, families, and the society in general that they figuratively denote.


How to Cite
Omuteche, J. (2018). Social Transformations and Re-Negotiating Identity in a Plural Cultural Space in Margaret Ogala’s the River and the Source. The International Journal of Humanities & Social Studies, 6(10). Retrieved from