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Taban Lo Liyong Biography

(1939– ), Eating Chiefs: Lwo Culture from Lolwe to Malkal, Popular Culture of East Africa

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East African essayist, poet, and short-story writer, born in Northern Uganda, educated at the National Teachers' College, Kampala, and in the USA at Howard University, Knoxville College, and the University of Iowa. His great interest and research studies in oral literature have resulted in Eating Chiefs: Lwo Culture from Lolwe to Malkal (1960) and, as editor, Popular Culture of East Africa (1972). His satires, parables, and moral tales in Fixions and other Stories (1969), and his poetry, are very much inspired by the oral tradition, but also by Nietzsche and modernist poets such as Eliot and Pound, while the more overtly modernistic stories in The Unfinished Man (1971) reflect the breakdown of that tradition in ‘fragmented images’. Liyong's poems defy stylistic convention, and reinforce his roles as both social critic and literary experimenter. Poetry collections include Frantz Fanon's Uneven Ribs (1971), Another Nigger Dead (1972), and Ballads of Underdevelopment (1976). Essay collections include The Last Word (1969) and Thirteen Offensives Against Our Enemies (1973), which also contains poems. Meditations in Limbo (1970) and Meditations of Taban Lo Liyong (1978) are autobiographical works in similar essayistic vein.

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