Acoli people are well known cereal eaters in Uganda. The cereals grown are
  • Finger Millet
  • Sorghum
  • This time rice
Finger millet has been the staple food crop in this region for as long as the people here have existed.. There are so many varieties of millet. But the
Acholi prefer the ones that give high yield regardless of the time it takes to mature.
millet after weeding

Sorghum was grown mostly in East Acoli. Those areas of Kitgum, Agago Pader and Lamwo grew a lot of this cereal. Arear of Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro grew less sorghum in the olden days. It was famine of 1971 that led the people in the later areas to begin serious cultivation of the crop. Sorghum is more resistant to drought and diseases.

sorghum awaiting harvest

Planting of both millet and sorghum begin by preparing the gardens in February and actual planting begins just before the first rains in March. In the old days, men and boys did this work but today everyone - male or female is involved. The second activity is weeding. Weeding is done by women and girls alone. Harvesting too is done by women and girls.

When the crop has been brought home, women still continue to work on it before is comes to the "table."

Sorghum is spread to dry.

Another tedious work begins when the seeds are dry. Threshing is done by women. Big sticks/ clubs are used to beat the sorghum head to remove the seeds from the calyx.

After thorough beating, winnowing begins. Here gravity is applauded. But also the wind is very important. In the olden days, when the air is still and there is no wind, people would say the wind had gone to visit hie mother-in-law. That is why it is not coming quickly enough to help the women who are badly in need of it. The women would begin to whistle -- that is to call the wind.


As I have said, when the wind isn't there,. the person gets annoyed.

the wind can be a real disappointment

By skillfully turning the winnower, the woman clears the seeds from the chaff.


After this, her work isn't over. She has to go to the grinding stone to make flour. This small video clip shows a woman at work. (video by okema jokondino)

Women can be funny. When the grind, they sing songs. Some of their songs are just to accompany their work but other tell of their sufferings. In this this song the woman complains of her husband's treatment. She says the man shows his strength to her instead of manifesting his strength to fellow men. She laments the misfortune of women who even after having been beaten by her husband, still works to feed this insolent and ungrateful husband.

Even after grinding her ordeal. She has to make "kwon" -- kind of bread made from millet, sorghum or maize flour.