People must make sacrifices every single day. Whether such sacrifice serves to benefit them, those around them, or society in general, people find that decisions to give up aspects of their lives are prevalent in human nature. Both spectrums of this theme are thoroughly explored in Grace Ogot’s The Rain Came. Often, in tribal cultures such as the one illustrated in this story, the tribespeople are asked to make sacrifices to appease some sort of ancestor or overlord. However, this was not the only example of how individuals in the story had to decide on what sacrifices to make to ensure they achieve what they wanted. While nearly all characters mentioned in the story at some point must give at least one thing up, it is the chief’s daughter, Oganda, who is faced with two instances of personal sacrifice.
The first of many difficult decisions falls upon the shoulders of the great chief Labong’o; no father in his right mind would allow his daughter to be sent to death. Labong’o, as strong as he is, struggles with making this decision as he must listen to the rainmaker and sacrifice his only daughter to allow rain to return to his villagers. “The chief must not weep. Society had declared him the bravest of men. But Labong’o did not care anymore. He assumed the position of a simple father and wept bitterly.” (Ogot 1) Realizing that the decision to sacrifice his own daughter to save the rest of the villagers tears even the strongest and most brave of the villagers to his very roots. Labong’o also explores the idea of sacrificing the entire village just to save his sacred lone daughter. These thoughts are quickly put to the side as the chief realizes that he has a duty to his villagers and cannot allow his interests to be placed above those of the entire tribe. This sacrifice made by Labong’o may very well be the most selfless and difficult of all throughout the story. While chief Labong’o laments that he must sacrifice his own daughter, most his villagers rejoice in knowing that their savior has been appointed. This brief detail illustrates how sacrifice for a larger purpose is a joyous thing, only for those that do not have to lose anything.
While Oganda is openly a revered member of the tribe, the villagers that do not have close personal connections with her almost instantly realize that allowing only one of them to die will save them and bring great prosperity to the whole. The tribespeople even act as if it is a great honor to give one’s life for such a sacred purpose. They clarify this even further by creating a song that goes “It is to save the people, if it is to give us rain, let Ogando go. Let Oganda die for her people, and for her ancestors,” (Ogot 3). This minor detail gains major insight into just how sacrifice can have incredibly different effects on those involved. The most confounding dilemma however, comes down to the great chief’s daughter, Oganda. Although it does not seem that she has a choice in the matter, Oganda must make the greatest of all possible sacrifices, give her own life for the people of her village. This sacrifice serves to benefit her in no way, and implicates just how her character was raised under strong morals and the idea that the needs of the whole are placed much higher than the needs of the individual. However strong these morals are though, instincts of survival must kick in at some point. “Forgetting that there was only one door in the hut Oganda fought desperately to find another exit. She must fight for her life. But there was none” (Ogot 3). Oganda, just like any reasonable human, does not want to willingly lose her life. Her human nature dictates that the sacrifice of herself is not worth it at the very moment of hearing the news.
After a great amount of time, Oganda realizes that there is no other choice than to make this great sacrifice. Although she realizes that the tribe will be better from because of her, Oganda is seen as timid and apprehensive about her fate. Again, this demonstrates that while there are predicted bonuses to sacrifice, at least one person will be on the losing end of the spectrum. What makes Oganda’s case of sacrifice so polarizing is the event that occurs at the end of the story. Oganda is faced with yet another impossible task of deciding what is more important: the individual, or the whole. While sacrifice is often thought of as an unselfish act that benefits the whole instead of the individual, this is not the case. Choosing the pick personal gain over what will benefit the group is a form of sacrifice, no matter if it is selfish or not. Oganda finally has been convinced that her fate is to sacrifice herself for the tribe. “Osinda, Osinda! Please let me die. Let me run, the sun is going down. Let me die, let them have rain.” (Ogot 7) Although these words are said by Oganda in a fury to give herself to the lake monster, it takes a miniscule amount of convincing by her lover, Osinda, to talk her from the ledge of death and escape to freedom. Oganda has rapidly devolved from being the savior of the tribe, to the possible destroyer of her people. This point exhibits the idea that sacrifice will bring out not only the best in people, but also the darkest part of people. Oganda knows that by doing this, she will endanger the lives of every person in her village. However, she is blinded by both her love for Osinda, and her instinct of survival. She is now giving up the idea the she will be a savior to her people, and the notion that she may ever return to live a normal life. Whichever decision she was to make, sacrifice was going to be behind it either way. Osinda faces a very similar quandary to Oganda in the sense that he must give up his normal life with the tribe. He also must realize that by saving Oganda, he too is bringing great danger to the people of the village. Both sacrifices do not seem to weigh on him as he sweeps Oganda from the cold grasp of death and takes her to safety and freedom. Without hesitation Osinda is willing to give up his own life, just to be with his lover. With no hope of return he and Oganda are to live their lives away from the tribe from then on.
The fact that the rain eventually came, despite the lack of sacrifice made to the lake monster, does not take away from the great sacrifices the characters depicted in the story were forced to make. Chief Labong’o, whether he knows it or not, has lost his precious only daughter. Oganda, who first was willing to sacrifice her life for the good of the people, now still sacrifices her life at home to be with Osinda. The people of the village have allowed one of their own to give her life. And finally, Osinda has given his own life for Oganda. All illustrations of sacrifice show that there is great forfeiture of some aspects, just to gain aspects in other areas. Whether it be on one end of the spectrum where a great loss is occurring for one’s self to allow gain for the good of the whole, or the placing of personal gain over the good of all, sacrifice is a theme that is methodically covered throughout The Rain Came.
Works Cited Ogot, Grace. The Rain Came 1964.