Okot was born in 1931 in Gulu, Uganda. He was educated at King’s College, Budo and later studied education at the University of Bristol and then law at the University of Wales. In 1963, he earned his Bachelor of Letters degree in social anthropology at the University of Oxford.
In 1953, he wrote the novel “Lak Tar Miyo Kinyero Wi Lobo” which was later translated into English as “White Teeth.” In 1966, he achieved wide international recognition with the publication of his long poem “Song of Lawino: A Lament.” The poem has been described as one of the most important works of African literature. Other works by Okot include “Song of Ocol” (1970), “Horn of My Love” (1974), and “Acholi Proverbs” (1985).