(…) Early in the film a close male friend, Ngi­mare, and Lorang’s wife’s sister, Nain­giro, and his senior wife tell us how Lorang became the man he now is. How­ev­er, although there is a cer­tain amount of ‘for­ward move­ment’ pro­duced from the accounts given by these indi­vid­u­als, other sequences have the qual­i­ty of our eaves­drop­ping upon con­ver­sa­tions which have not been stim­u­lat­ed by the film-makers’ ques­tions or inter­ests. These two rather dif­fer­ent sorts of mate­r­i­al are blend­ed with mus­ings from Lorang him­self about his life, or Turkana custom more gen­er­al­ly. There is no spe­cif­ic time-frame estab­lished, even by impli­ca­tion. It is not that LORANG’S WAY needs any spe­cif­ic time-ref­er­ents – it man­ages quite well ‘in the present’, although ref­er­ences are made to Lorang’s own past.

The film starts with a dust-storm, out of which comes a voice which curses the dust and wishes it would stop. It is strik­ing, enig­mat­ic, and oddly uncon­nect­ed to what fol­lows. Lorang’s voice – over more dust, ani­mals and land­scape – states that he has been in many places, and wher­ev­er he has been people have asked him to stay, to settle down with them. His remarks also make it clear that as a young man he left Turkana under some kind of a cloud and was con­script­ed into the King’s African Rifles. Ques­tions are put to him, through an inter­preter, and some of these appear on the screen as super­im­posed cap­tions. They imply that he has become suc­cess­ful. Lorang’s sister explains that on leav­ing the army he used his sev­er­ance pay to buy ani­mals. In one early scene his friend Ngi­mare is asked how Lorang became wealthy, and he responds in a highly emphat­ic manner, with much hand-play, rep­e­ti­tion, dra­mat­ic pauses. The camera is very near him, so that when he ges­tures towards, it he prac­ti­cal­ly touch­es the wide-angle lens. Because most view­ers are unfa­mil­iar with Turkana senior male speech at this point, it is hard to know if Ngi­mare is a bit of a ham, ‘talk­ing up’ his friend to impress the film-makers, or whether this is a char­ac­ter­is­tic speech-mode. By the end of the film we will be some­what better placed to answer such a ques­tion, but no autho­r­i­al com­ment is made in such matters.

(…) There is con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sion of the changes in the wider soci­ety. Lorang defends him­self for having refused to learn to read, but one of his sons replies that read­ing is gen­uine­ly useful. Sto­ries are told about evad­ing police cen­sure, either from intel­li­gence or having a knowl­edge of the law. At one point Lorang says »Life is chang­ing.… We are told we must forget our past ways«, but he seems uncon­vinced. One of his sons says that some who start­ed out with no ani­mals now have large herds, and vice versa. He also knows that naked­ness is dis­ap­proved of. When asked about his own future he says, »I’ll marry. I’ll go raid­ing. I’ll get cattle. I’ll have chil­dren. I’ll grow old«. As he tells it, pas­toral life will go on much as usual. But later there is talk about gov­ern­ment taxes, and there is an amus­ing shot of a land­scape over which voices are heard to utter impre­ca­tions against gov­ern­ment as if it were an epi­dem­ic: »Sick­ness! May it go away!« Once again, we are allowed to see that this is no pas­toral idyll. 

Lorang’s com­ments on Euro­peans include the thought that »the Euro­peans will extract our knowl­edge drop by drop from us … but they will never choose to live like us. Their knowl­edge is their live­stock, but I tell you it is more impor­tant to them than live­stock are to us.« This com­ment qual­ifies as highly per­cep­tive, as a state­ment about Euro­pean soci­ety in gen­er­al. I assume it is also sup­posed to a sour moment upon the film-makers and their activities. 

LORANG’S WAY is a com­bi­na­tion of Lorang’s char­ac­ter, viewed as a »suc­cess story«, and cur­rent themes in Turkana life. By impli­ca­tion, Lorang’s way’ is a way most Turkana men would hope to follow. It has »rep­re­sen­ta­tive qual­i­ty« as a model for suc­cess. If it is not »typ­i­cal« in the sta­tis­ti­cal sense, it makes explic­it an»actors model« in the Levi-Strauss­ian sense. For some view­ers, and I speak for myself par­tic­u­lar­ly here, Lorang may seem a dis­turb­ing person. His face seems cruel, unyield­ing, his manner harsh and author­i­tar­i­an. He rarely smiles. His strength is, of course, unde­ni­able. Here is a man who would die rather than yield. Since many bio­graph­i­cal films are fairly bland, and present their sub­jects in a highly pos­i­tive light, the por­trait of Lorang has sub­tle­ty which is both unusu­al and instruc­tive. The film might get us to think about the ade­qua­cy of lib­er­al values if trans­posed to a pas­toral set­ting. In Turkana »nice guys« would inevitably »finish last« if they man­aged to finish at all. The point is sig­nalled in a brief sequence in which one of Lorang’s sons speaks casu­al­ly about having had a wound­ed man of anoth­er tribe in his powers so that »I could have beaten him to death« but a few moments later is shown fondly play­ing with a naked baby. It implies to me that the hard men of Turkana direct their hard­ness out­side their groups, part of the very out­look which in a dif­fi­cult envi­ron­ment nur­tures and pro­tects their own people. Such is »Lorang’s way«, and, we are meant to infer, Turkana life more generally. 

Auszug aus: Inno­va­tion in ethno­graph­ic film – from inno­cence to self con­scious­ness 1955-1985, S. 7376, Loizus Peter, Man­ches­ter Uni­ver­si­ty Press 1993
Der Autor Peter Loizus unter­richtet an der London School of Eco­nom­ics in Social Anthro­pol­o­gy. In dem herange­zo­ge­nen Buch analysiert er fün­fzig ethno­grafis­che Filme aus den Jahren 1955-85, und arbeit­et deren jew­eili­gen Stel­len­wert inner­halb der visuellen Anthro­polo­gie heraus.