Worldreader Book Club

February 2015 • The River and The Source


The River and The Source

by Margaret A. Ogola

Synopsis: This epic tale of three generations of Kenyan women and their progeny, spanning over 100 years, takes the reader from a nineteenth century rural village in Western Kenya to the end of the twentieth century in modern-day Nairobi. Join the descendants of Akoko as they confront cultural upheavals, from the coming of Catholicism to AIDS, with the courage and reserve that they derive from the blood of their matriarch. The River and the Source is a capacious novel that will take you beyond the intimate life of a single family; it will take you into the heart of Kenyan women everywhere.

Video Introduction to The River and The Source:

Discussion Questions about The River and The Source:

  1. The progeny of Akoko are many, but Ogola chooses to focus almost entirely on the long line of daughters. How does this compare to other classic genealogical epics, like Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude?
  2. Each generation of women embark on a path that is in marked contrast with the generation before her. How does this manifest itself in Akoko? Maria? Elizabeth? Vera and Becky?
  3. How does Ogola’s minimal reference to the passing of time (e.g., world events) impact your reading of the story?
  4. “The leaving and cleaving was always more difficult for a woman who has to tear herself from so much, and give so much—which almost always went unnoticed.” Hows does Wandia’s reflection permeate throughout the generations?
  5. Would you recommend this book to another? Where is it strong, and where is it weak?