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Prof. Taban Lo Liyong retells 4 millennia Greek story for new generation

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Professor Taban Lo Liyong and Eye Radio's Emmanuel Okot after the one-on-one interview in Juba on Friday, November 27, 2020.

“How could Troy hope to become cultured overnight? How could the raiding, grabbing, snatching of Helen confer upon them the title of refinement? Did they think they would enjoy the fruits of Achaian civilization without sweating, without shedding tears, gnashing teeth? Can a palace be civilized and a state call itself civilized while its populace and countryside is barbaric?”

This is an excerpt from page 145 of a book ‘After Troy’ –where Professor Taban Lo Liyong takes the reader back 4 millennia into Greek history, to decipher the symbolic language of Homer’s tales: Illiad, the story of the destruction of Troy by war.

The book-length poem is an expansive and engaging elaboration of two classical Greek texts, Homer’s Odyssey and Aeschylus’s Oresteia.

In it, Professor Taban Lo Liyong asserts that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context and that they are not absolute.

“Since we now live in the 21st century we need to be relativistic. This is where the concept of the paradigm shift comes in: stand firmly in your century but also cast your mind back to those events which supposedly took place in the ‘pagan’ world of Greece 4,000 years ago. Make allowances for the level of ‘civilization’ and its different morality then………” the renown poet writes.

In the book’s afterward, Professor Lo Liyong states that “Many epochs have passed, and humanity everywhere has faced similar existential problems. What were these problems called, in the eras before ours? Are we now struggling with creating new names for them which our tongues can pronounce but our minds struggle to conceive? Isn’t that what we mean when we say ‘the Greeks had a name for it’?

On Friday, November 27, 2020, Professor Taban Lo Liyong – A south Sundanese poet, and writer of fiction and literary criticism –launched his new brainchild – ‘After Troy’.

The Professor is known for his political views, as well as his ongoing denigration of the post-colonial system of education in East Africa -which have inspired criticism and controversy since the late 1960s.

Professor Lo Liyong sat down with Eye Radio’s Okot Emmanuel to speak about the new book:

‘After Troy’ has been described in the introduction as having the ability to constantly invite the reader to connect the past and present and to be in touch with believes and practices throughout the world…..the time travel ranges far beyond ancient times and includes reference to Michelangelo, Gadaffi, camera and rockets.

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