Acholi Folktale Cartoons

The Luo Folktales Cartoon Project began in July 2009 at the request of Bishop
Ochola and it is a collaborative effort with the Jazz for Justice Project, University
of Tennessee Anthropology student Erin Cagney, Kampala artist Vincent
Ssebunya, Gulu artist Patrick Okello, and Moses Lajum of Kitgum. The project

began in 2009 as an effort to turn the Luo folktales into a comic series and
eventually an animated series for children all over Uganda and in the Diaspora.
The team hopes that by presenting the folktales in a different format, children will
have a greater interest in this invaluable part of their heritage, and the folktales
will survive beyond the 20-year conflict that northern Uganda suffered.

As of now, Erin Cagney has recorded 30 folktales to be used in the project,
selected by Bishop Ochola. Moses Lajum has transcribed and translated
several tales, though more assistance is needed in this area. Artists Vincent
Ssebunya and Patrick Okello have drafted the first version of the first cartoon to
be published about the beautiful Awili and her sister, Aputa the cripple.

Because of the LRA insurgency from 1986-2006, many cultural practices have
fallen to the wayside in northern Uganda. The Luo people have a culture rich in
dance, music, poetry, and storytelling. However, because of the environment
in the displacement camps, fear of LRA abduction, extreme loss of life and
extreme poverty, many people have said they no longer had time to carry out
their traditions as they would in peaceful times.

According to many elders and some youth, the conflict and camp life robbed
youth of their culture. Most relevant to this project, youth did not attend nightly
wang’oo sessions and sit around the fire receiving advice, wisdom, and folklore
from their elders.

In the post-conflict setting, many efforts have been made to revive the Acholi
culture and teach the youth what they missed during the war. Cultural revival
has become an important tool for peace as people forget their traumas and
their losses while learning how to perform traditional dances and songs as a
community, but in many instances the elders are simply not there to carry out the

While these efforts are being made, many children are missing out on the
enjoyment of learning from the ancient Luo folklore and many have lost respect
for their elders so that they would not listen if they had the opportunity. Because
of this, our team seeks to present the folktales in a different format, like that of
a comic book. This is a style that many of today’s children are familiar with, and
it would certainly draw their attention. By distributing the books in schools, we
hope that the children will learn life lessons from the comic books as they would
have learned them from their grandparents before. Then, when this generation is
older, they will have the opportunity to share the same stories with their children
in times of peace.


1. To create a series of 30 comic books that can be distributed to primary,
secondary, and University-level students as well as youth who are not in
2. To create a database of folktales in order to preserve them on paper past the
current generation of elders.
3. To increase childrens’ interest level in Luo Folklore through a modern format.
4. To revive the tradition of storytelling amongst Luo youth.
5. To promote national reconciliation through ethnic integration amongst the
team and book distribution across the country.
6. To provide materials for Luos in the Diaspora.
7. To extend the project into not just a collection of comic books, but a
compilation book, and the first African-made animation series to be shown in

To learn more about this project or how you can help, please contact Erin Cagney.

about erin

I graduated from the University of Tennessee in May 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. I am currently taking the year off to enjoy a less stressful life while applying for graduate schools in Anthropology. Without sounding too cliche, it's true that we are all life-long learners, but I still miss the challenge and excitement of the classroom. This website is a combination of personal and professional so that anyone who wants to can get to know me better. I will also be keeping up with my blog, where you will be able to read about the life of an undergraduate student about to embark on the real world. Feel free to contact me; I’d love to hear from you!