On display: greed, wit and a drive for survival  

Long ago, drought befell the land. The Ogre began eating humans and animals. He would descend on one group of animals, eat them and move onto the next.

The Hare was horrified at how fast animals were getting wiped out. He spent most of the day in hiding worried that soon, it would be his turn to die. When he could not hide anymore, he came up with an idea.

“Min Obuce, let’s go and live with the Ogre,” he told the wife. “He won’t eat us because we shall be working for him. Besides, hunger is ravaging every homestead. At the Ogre’s home, we’ll eat what he eats.”


The Hare woke up at cock’s crow. On arrival, he found the Ogre taking porridge. He was gulping it loudly, raaap, raaap, raaap, followed by a joyful moan uuuuuuu!

The Hare’s body trembled kwaaak kwaaak kwaaak as he moved closer to the veranda where the Ogre was seated. The Ogre saw the Hare’s shadow first and immediately shouted:

“Who is that?”

“Uncle, it’s me, the Hare. I have come to ask for a favor; Min Obuce wants to come and cook for you. My children will fetch water and collect firewood for you. You work too hard,” he said, his voice trembling.

“Very well, dear nephew! You should all come, even the children. They will help me exactly like you have explained.” The Ogre said this because he knew that food had come to him on a silver platter.

The Hare relayed the good news to his family: “Very early tomorrow morning, we shall go to live with my uncle, the Ogre. He won’t eat us.”


The sun was still mild when the family arrived at their new home, but the Ogre had already gone hunting. The homestead was built in the middle of a dense forest with trees such as the African Mahogany (Beyo), the Big Leaf Mahogany (Tidu), the Red-Hot Poker (Lucoro) and Tamarind (Cwaa).

The family settled in the hut built under the big Kijing tree. Min Obuce got a large pot, filled it to the brim with food and placed it on the hearth. The Ogre usually ate a potful of food. The children also got down to work immediately. They collected water in pots and poured some in gourds. They fetched firewood, piled bundles on the platform and placed others on the Nak—a wooden shelf built above the hearth.

The Ogre returned from hunting with meat that could fill up Dero Lakodo—a small granary for storing simsim. He had already smoked the meat from the bush. Min Obuce had cooked plenty of food just the way the Ogre liked it.

The Ogre always ate until his stomach rivaled the size of a mother drum. His meal consisted of a pot of millet bread and beef stew. He topped it by drinking a large calabash of water until he belched. Once satisfied, the Ogre slept and snored kruuu, kruuu! and farted loudly, duuuuuu dut dut dut, duuuuuu.


The Hare kept admiring the granaries built around the Ogre’s courtyard, each filled with different kinds of food—bananas, lentils, smoked meat, sun-dried white ants and cucumber, honey, sesame, roselle seeds, among others.

“Life is going to be sweet here,” he thought.

At night, the Hare would get out of the house on the pretext of going to defecate. He headed straight to the granaries. He poked a hole at the bottom of the granaries with sesame and white ants. Then he went to the one with smoked meat, pulled out a big piece and ate it. He continued to the next granary, picked up a pole and used it to lift the roof. He climbed in and ate plenty of honey.

The Ogre was deep asleep when the Hare tiptoed back into the house. The Ogre had gone to bed when he was so full he snored loudly, kruuu! kruuu! He farted loudly, duuuuuu dut dut dut, duuuuuu.

The Hare kept stealing food every night until the granaries were empty. The Ogre had also hunted all the animals in the jungle. His fame was soon confronted by shortage of food.

Min Obuce went to talk to the Ogre about the food situation: “My husband’s uncle, there’s no food to cook today.”

“You should cook one of your children for me to eat since there’s nothing else to cook. I want to return from hunting and find when you have cooked one child,” the Ogre said.

Min Obuce was in shock. She couldn’t imagine cooking her own child. The Hare on the other hand, was worried about food for his own stomach. “Min Obuce, since there’s no more food here, what shall we do? Let’s leave and look for another place that still has food,” he suggested.

Min Obuce scratched her head and a brilliant thought occurred. She told herself: “The Ogre thinks he’s very intelligent. He has eaten every human and animal on this land but I’m going to outwit him.”

She went to the rubbish pit and collected bones, hides and skin that the Ogre had thrown away. She shaved the head of one of her children. Min Obuce put the hair, bones, hides and skin in a pot, prepared and set it aside for the Ogre. She collected leafy vegetables and cooked it for her family.

Min Obuce took the child whose head she had shaved and walked with him to the Mahogany tree. She prayed to the tree: “Mahogany, if you belong to my mother and father, please bend.”

The Mahogany bent and Min Obuce placed the child on the tree. She prayed again: “Mahogany, if you belong to my mother and father, please straighten up.”

The tree did as beseeched, taking with it the first child.

The next day, the Ogre said: “You should cook another child today. The one you cooked yesterday was very delicious.”

The Hare’s wife again collected bones, hides and skin from the rubbish pit, added the ball of hair shaved off the second child’s head and prepared a meal for the Ogre. She prepared a separate meal for her husband and children. Once they had eaten, she took the child up the Mahogany tree and warned them not to talk, lest the Ogre heard their voice.

The Hare was busy roaming about looking for extra things to eat and clueless about what his wife was doing. Soon, all the four children were hidden up on the tree.

Min Obuce spoke to the Ogre: “My husband’s uncle, all the children have been cooked and eaten; what will I prepare today?”

“You should cook yourself. I should return from hunting and find when you’ve served yourself in a bowl. Start by mingling bread so that I don’t bother doing it myself when I return. I’ll just get home and eat.”

Min Obuce nodded in agreement. When the Ogre left to hunt, she went through the same routine, shaved her own head and made a meal with her hair, in addition to the bones, hides and skin she had collected.

Since they arrived, Min Obuce had been hiding some foodstuff whenever the Ogre went hunting. She carried the food with her to the Mahogany tree and joined her children in hiding.


You should cook one of your children for me to eat since there’s nothing else to cook,” the Ogre said.

The Hare returned from his escapades and found the homestead eerily quiet. “Min Obuce, where are you? My children’s mother, where are you? Have you gone to fetch firewood or to collect water?” He screamed but got no response.

The Hare later told the Ogre about his missing wife. “I came back and it was very quiet. There was no one at home.” There was no response.

The next morning, the Ogre read instructions to the Hare: “Hare, I have eaten all your children and their mother. Yesterday, the children’s mother cooked herself. Today is your turn. I’m going to hunt. I want to come back and find when you are food in a pot ready for me to eat. Just like your wife did, start by mingling bread so that I don’t bother making it when I return. Have you understood me?”

The Hare was confused. He started shivering yet it was very hot. The drought had intensified and there were no thickets for one to hide. The Hare didn’t know what to do. He sat down, thinking to himself for a long time. “If my wife and my children are gone, I should cook myself so that I rest from all the troubles of this world.”

He poured water in a pot and placed it on the hearth. When he dipped the tip of his finger in the water moments later, it was boiling, guuny guuny guuny. He pulled his hand out quickly.

“How did that woman cook herself?” he wondered, tears rolling down his face.

Suspecting that her husband is in trouble, the Hare’s wife prayed to the Mahogany again: “Mahogany, if you belong to my mother and father, please bend.” The Mahogany bent and Min Obuce climbed down. She stood by the door and watched the Hare who was now trying to dip his leg into the boiling water. He yanked it out before it could even touch the water, screaming: “Dear Mother, I’m dead! How shall I cook myself today?”

He sat down and continued talking to himself: “I’m going to walk far away from the pot, run back and dive into the water. I’d rather kill myself than get eaten by the Ogre.”

As the Hare ran to jump into the water, Min Obuce grabbed his waist, held him tightly. “Hare, is this what I did to myself? Sit down!” She shaved his head and cut his nails. She then went out and collected bones, hides and skin from the pit and made a meal like she had done for the past five days.

“The children and I are hiding up on the Mahogany. Let’s go quickly; when the Ogre finds us, we’ll face it rough.”

The Ogre returned from hunting, ate his food which be believed was the Hare.


The next morning, the Ogre scratched his head about what he would eat. Silence was palpable. There were no birds singing. No crickets chirping. No tiny crawling creatures in sight.

The Ogre opened one of his granaries and found leftover foodstuff—dry white ants, a little milk in a guard and tiny pieces of smoked meat.

“My anus, what should I eat today?” The Ogre’s anus replied, “Get a calabash of milk, go sit under the Mahogany shade and drink it.”

The Ogre had just taken one sip of milk when the Hare scraped bark from the Mahogany and dropped it in the calabash. The Ogre cursed, removed the dirt and continued drinking his milk. The Hare’s body kept trembling kwak kwak kwak with craving.

His wife begged him to sit still and quiet but the Hare was possessed with a craving. Suddenly, he shouted: “My uncle, we are up here. This woman hid all of us here. Give me white ants, give me honey, give me meat, give me milk, give me what you are drinking.”

The Ogre looked up, saw the Hare and said: “Climb down my nephew. Come down so that we can live together. I love you very much.”

Seeing that the Hare had jeopardized their safety, Min Obuce told the Ogre: “You should join us. It’s very comfortable up here. There’s a lot to eat. We shall throw down a rope; tie it around your testicles, and we shall pull you up.”

The Ogre grabbed the rope, tied it around his balls as instructed. The Hare, his wife and their children held onto the other end and began pulling the Ogre up. When he was about to reach the branch on which the family was seated, Min Obuce pulled out a sharp knife from her waist and cut the rope, tup! The Ogre fell and broke to pieces. Before his last breath, he said: “Get a knife and cut my pinky finger and use it to beat a drum while swearing: ‘may the human race rise, may the Ogre’s tribe perish’.”

The Hare did as he was told. As soon as he hit the drum kili-kili-kili-kili, all animals and humans that the Ogre had eaten began emerging, one by one from his stomach. Once all the people and animals had trooped from his stomach, rain began to fall. People began farming food crops, vegetation grew and animals had plenty to eat. The wells got filled with water and life returned to normal.

The Hare and his wife took over the Ogre’s home.


[Min Obuce = Mother of Obuce]

From this folktale springs the Acoli proverb, the female dog (bitch) can also catch an animal, in reference to how the Hare’s wife applied wit to save her family.


NOTE: The Ododo Series is a project launched in April 2020 to document and share Acoli folktales in English. These folktales were narrated to children by (grand)mothers in a fireplace setting in homesteads of the Acoli of Northern Uganda and elsewhere. Care has been taken to stick to the story-line as originally told in the Acoli language, but small variations are inevitable.


Edited by Caroline Ayugi

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