In “The Rain Came” by Grace Ogot, the spirits tell Labong'o, the tribe's chief, that he must sacrifice his only daughter, Oganda, in order to receive rain. Herein lies the conflict, and the tale follows the progress of Labong'o's decision and Oganda's struggle with the upcoming sacrifice.
While the entire story is narrated in the third person, the first part of the tale focuses on Labong'o as he struggles to accept what the spirits have told him. As a leader, he has a responsibility for the well-being of the whole tribe, yet as a father, he does not want to give up his beloved daughter. Those two aspects fight inside of him, and he knows that he will never be the same again. Eventually, however, he decides to let his daughter go. He chooses the tribe over his child. Yet he mourns deeply. He can hardly speak the words as he makes the announcement to the gathered tribe.
The people's reaction is surprising. They rejoice. They sing and dance and think that Oganda is the luckiest girl in the world to be chosen to die for her people. The story now shifts to Oganda's point of view. Oganda, sitting in her grandmother's hut, hears this celebration and thinks that her father must have announced her marriage. She is happy and excited until she learns the truth.
Oganda then shows a strength of character rare for a girl her age. While she weeps for her fate, she manages to sit still throughout the celebrations she is forced to endure. She remains silent as people congratulate her for being chosen to die. She walks under her own power all the way to the lake where she will throw herself to the lake monster. She enters the fearful sacred land. As she walks, she sings, mourning that everyone has consented to her death.
The tension in the narrative builds as Oganda walks along, says goodbye to crowds, and goes off on her own. Her own fear rises as well as she senses something watching her. She believes it is the monster, and she hurries along, trying to meet her fate before she loses her courage. Something is running after her. The story reaches its climax as a creature catches Oganda, and she falls into a faint.
When she opens her eyes, her beloved, Osinda, is standing over her. He has come to rescue her. At first she tries to argue with him, but then she runs away with Osinda's assurance that the monster will not reach them. They will go to an unknown land and be together.
As the story resolves, the rain begins to fall. Apparently, the spirits are satisfied with Oganda's will to sacrifice herself and do not require the actual act. Readers are left with questions, however, wondering if Oganda will ever see her family again or if she must live in exile and if Oganda will accept what she has done even with the assurance of the rain.
The story focuses on several important themes: the often unenviable position of a leader who must consider the good of the whole community, Oganda's self-sacrificial acceptance of her fate, the questioning of Oganda's parents about why their own daughter must die, and the saving love of Osinda.
Further, the story uses symbolism as it explores these themes. The lake monster, for instance, is a symbol of death. No one knows if it actually exists. The gold chain around Oganda's waist symbolizes the love she shares with Osinda and her desire to retain the precious gift of life. Labong'o's crown and eagle-head symbolize his role as chief, and when he removes them, he symbolizes his reluctance to act in that role.