Once upon a time there lived a man named Ssebwaato. His wife’s name was Lwandeka.
Ssebwaato was afflicted by a chronic leg wound and all remedies failed him. One
day, his friend Sserwalilundi recommended a famous medicine man (doctor) called
Nnende. At the first consultation Nnende said to Ssebawaato: "If you are seeking
a cure, go home and bring me a white goat, a white chicken, nine cowrie shells
and a roll of bark cloth. I will then tell you how to locate the medicine".
Ssebwaato complied. Upon receiving these items, Nnende directed Ssebwaato to
ask his wife and children to prepare a basket of pop corn, a basket of roasted
peanuts and a basket of sim-sim for Ssebwaato’s trip. Equipped with these
items, Ssebwaato immediately started off on the journey to the distant land
of people-eating Chimpanzees (ogres or monsters) where, according to Nnende’s
directions, he would find the medicine for his wound. Along the way, Ssebwaato
stumbled on Wammese, (Mr. Rat) but the two made a friendship pact and Wammese offered Ssebwaato
two small gourds filled with water. Next Ssebwaato came across Nabbubi, (Mr.
Spider) and made a friendship pact with him too. Ssebwaato soon arrived at a
giant lake only to find that there wasn’t a single boat for him to cross into
the land of the Chimpanzees. He cried out to Spider. Spider miraculously
appeared and started to produce web thread. Holding on to Spider’s thread,
Ssebwaato was able to cross the lake into the land of the monsters.
The land of the Chimpanzees proved to be very scary. There was nothing in sight
but human skulls, and a single hut. A voice from the hut called out to him. He
entered to find an old woman half eaten by the chimpanzees. Ssebwaato explained
his mission and the old woman assured him that the medicine was indeed inside
this hut, inside a securely guarded drum suspended above the hearth. The old
woman instructed Ssebwaato in the strategies for stealing the drum without
falling victim to the monsters. He would have to steal the drum when the
monsters were asleep. Evening arrived. When the old woman heard the
Chimpanzees return, she took a big saucepan, put it over Ssebwaato and sat on
it. The animals were filled with suspicion as they smelled human flesh. She
insisted she had not seen a single human being. As soon as the monsters were
asleep, at the old woman’s signal, Ssebwaato cut the drum loose and took off in
a flash. To his horror, the drum started sonorously playing itself saying " Ddi,
Mayirimalume, Ddi, Ddi, Ddi, Nagenda Ddi Ddi Mayirimalume (Mayirimalume, I have
gone). Mayirimalume was the name of the drum. The sound of the drum woke the
monsters. They immediately started chasing Ssebwaato. As they approached,
Ssebwaato made use of the provisions his wife and children had packed for him.
He poured out some nuts on the ground behind him. The greedy monsters excitedly
started eating the nuts while Ssebwaato gained ground. Thereafter, each time
the monsters came dangerously close, Ssebwaato would pour out more nuts, popcorn
However, he eventually run out of grain and the Chimpanzees were once again
dangerously close. Ssebwaato remembered his friend, Wammese (Mr. Rat) and
called out to him. Wammese appeared and instructed Ssebwaato to produce the two
small gourds and to pour out their contents, water. As he did so, the water
turned into a lake, separating him from the ravenous monsters. All he heard now
were their lament: "You have taken wealth, you have taken goats, you have taken
cows, you have taken wives…"
Ssebwaato triumphantly arrived home, the drum stopped playing itself and the
whole village assembled to welcome him back. He ordered the drum opened up to
retrieve the medicine. On opening the drum with an axe, many things came out
women, men, children, cows, goats — everything that the monsters had ever
eaten. In one corner of the drum he found the medicine, applied it and the
wound was cured instantly. Ssebwaato became famous and
"begot" a new
He was made king of the
people whom he had rescued from the drum.