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Tribes in South Sudan

The ethnicity of South Sudan is rich and diverse. There is 64 tribes or ethnic groups which are native to South Sudan. Many of these ethnic groups share common culture, very closely-link cultural traits with intelligible languages which forming distinct larger family units of Tribes in South Sudan. In this article, we have put together all the 64 tribes in South Sudan and some of which are very traditional living a life they have lived for centuries. You have to visit them before modernization unfortunately destroyed them

Top Traditional Tribes in South Sudan

Mundari Tribe of South Sudan

Like other Nilotic tribes, are very cattle-oriented: cattle serves as food, a form of currency and a mark of status. Marriages are arranged by the prospective groom offering cattle to the bride’s family and husbands may take as many wives as they can support. The Mundari engage in perennial cattle raiding wars with the neighboring Dinka during the dry season. In order to secure their cattle, Mundari men at night take their weapons and go to the bush. Mundari practice ritual scarification as a rite of passage into adulthood for young men. The typical Mundari scar pattern consists of two sets of three parallel lines, each on either side of the forehead, extending in a downward slope and unconnected in the middle.

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Dinka

The most prominent tribe in South Sudan is Dinka. The Dinka surrounding the central swamps of the Nile basin primarily in South Sudan. They speak a Nilotic language classified within the Eastern Sudanic branch of the Nilo-Saharan languages and are closely related to the Nuer. Numbering some 4,500,000 in the early 21st century, the Dinka form many independent groups of 1,000 to 30,000 persons.

Toposa and Jiye

The Toposa and Jiye belong to what has been called the “Karamojong cluster”, which also includes the Karamojong people of Uganda, the Nyangatom people in south western Ethiopia and the Turkana people of Kenya.
The Toposa economy and social life revolves around herding livestock, including cattle, camels, donkeys, goats and sheep. Boys are first given care of goats and sheep, then graduate to looking after cattle when they come of age. Possession of cattle, along with possession of a loaded gun, are the main measures of status and wealth. Cattle are central to Toposa culture. The Toposa have always competed for water and pasturage with their neighbors, and have always engaged in cattle rustling.

Toposa tribe

Larim Tribe

Larim speak Murle and are excellent architects. They also pierce their nose and lips and scarify their bodies. Larim keep cattle and grow seasonal crops, such as sorghum, maize and beans. Widowed women wrap vegetable cords around their legs and head. Larim is considered one of South Sudan’s most traditional groups.

Lotuko Tribe of South Sudan

Lotuko people are a Nilotic ethnic group that populates the region characterized by ranges and mountain spurs such as the Imotong mountain, the highest mountain in South Sudan.
As agro-pastoralists, they keep large herds of cattle, sheep and goats, and supplement this with hoe-farming, hunting, and fishing. Land is owned by no single person, but in trust by the community. In the mountains, after finding a site, the group decides the boundaries of each person’s garden, with certain areas being fallow for a number of years.

Acholi tribe

The Acholi people (also spelled Acoli) are a Nilotic ethnic group of Luo peoples (also spelled Lwo),This ethinic group can be found in Magwi County in South Sudan and Northern districts of Uganda like Agago, Amuru, Guru , Nwoya Omoro and others. Most of the Acholi are in Uganda side since 2.1 millions of them were registerd as Ugandan while in South Sudan, there are only 45,000 accoding to the 2000 population census in South Sudan

Adio Tribe

Adio (also called Iddio or Makaraka) are an ethnic group indigenous to Central Africa, closely related to the  Azande or NiamNiam, occupying the Bahr-el-Ghazal west of Lado. They came originally from the country of the Kibas, north of the Welle River. They do not extract the incisors.
Currently, they form part of the population of the South Sudanese state of Central Equatoria. The Adio speak Kakwa and Mundu but they are not Kakwa.

The Adio number a few hundred and are found in Yei River District along the Yei – Maridi road. They are agrarian and engage in subsistence agriculture producing cassava, telebun, maize, sorghum, beans, and sweet potatoes. The area where Adio live is infested with trypanosomaisis (sleeping sickness) resulting from tse-tse flies.
This is responsible for the decline in their numbers. Indeed, the Adio have been marked for extinction by many. The diminishing of the community partly due to the endemic diseases and migration to towns where many of their elite have assimilated into the Bari speaking communities.

Man carries a goat in south sudan

Aja Tribe

Aja of South Sudan are different from those of Benin and Togo. They are small ethnic community divided into two sections: The largest section living close to the Banda inhabits the upper parts of Sopo River; The smallest section is found scattered around Raga town.The Aja economy like others, are predominantly agrarian and their activity is essentially subsistence. They keep fowl and goats.

Anyuak Tribe

Anyuak Tribe of South Sudan and Ethiopia are heavily reliant on their rivers and have subsistence economies. They cultivate their crops along the sides of rivers, which gives them a reliable and effective supply of food.

The Anuak people hunt the animals that are looking for streams during the dry season. They engage in a lot of fishing when it is not the dry season. Additionally, the Anuaks time the migration of their livestock according to the season (migrate in dry the dry season). Because the Anuak people prioritize agriculture above cattle, they do not have as much livestock as most other civilizations, hence the movement of domesticated animals is not as significant to them as it is to other societies. To address their financial needs, the Anuaks participate in agriculture, gathering, pastoralism, hunting, and fishing.

The Anuak villages have minimal contact with the outside world and are quite close-knit. The Headmen who oversee the villages are readily removed from office if the populace finds them to be unacceptable.  The Anuak people have relatively democratic systems of self-government. [Reference needed] Because of their prior interactions with the Ethiopian government and other ethnic groups that live on the same land, the Anuaks have a tendency to distrust strangers.

The Kuku Tribe

The Kuku are a Karo people tribe from South Sudan. They live in Kajokeji County, Central Equatoria State’s agricultural lands. The Kuku speak a Bari dialect that is also known as Kuku.

They are primarily a farming people who rely on mixed farming. During the rainy season, they grow a variety of food crops, including sorghum (also known as dura in Sudan), maize, millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, and beans (loputu). During the dry season, they manage a small herd of cattle, goats, and sheep. The Kuku are excellent beekeepers. During the dry season, they also engage in collective hunting with bow and arrow. Their hunting methods also include trapping animals in nets.

The Kuku number about 20,000-30,000 and a few of them are found in West Nile District of Uganda. The Kuku were part of a larger group known as the Bari-. There was a lot of infighting among the larger group, so they decided to split up into areas where each group felt more at ease. The Kuku were the people who made the decision to move south and settle. There are well-known rainmakers in the tribe. Following the first Sudanese civil war in 1972, an agreement was reached among South Sudanese groups, and prominent members of the Kuku joined the leadership of South Sudan.

During the day, men usually go hunting or farming. Women spend the majority of their days farming and doing other household chores. Women arrive home one hour earlier than men to begin preparing the day’s meal. Young boys and girls are free to play and frequently assist with household chores. A father will occasionally take his son to teach him how to hunt and farm. A mother instructs her daughters on how to perform household chores. Adults must work together as a community to help the village survive. Elders maintain tribal/community law and order.

Lango Tribe

Lango is a Paranilotic language-speaking community that originated in South Sudan. They are agriculturists on the move. The Lango live in Imatong State’s Ikwoto County. This region borders Uganda to the south, and its people share ancestors with the Lango of Uganda. The Lango are a group of between 25,000 and 30,000 people who live on the eastern bank of Equatoria’s Equatoria Dongotono Mountain. Isoke, Agoro, Logire, and Ikotos are their major cities, in addition to the smaller towns that each of the 13 or more clans that make up the Lango people calls home.

In many facets of social organization, the Lango are similar to the Lotuka. The population is divided up into exogamous agnatic clans, some of which have animal ties and transform into such after passing away. Although the Lango have age divisions, they do not observe the Lotuka’s “new fire” rite. The initiates spend five days alone in the wilderness subsisting solely on foraged foods before returning to a feast of goat flesh that has been slain but not skinned, distinguished by their service as senior age-class servants.

Age-class matters in conflict, cattle raids, and other social gatherings. It is also related to certain personality traits and manners. No Lango is allowed to flirt with women his age. The death penalty may be used to punish such adultery. Before initiation, women and young people are not permitted to milk cows. Except for a month following a boy’s birth, when the mother brings the kid and rubs oil on the logs on which the men sit as well as the child’s feet and chest, no woman is allowed to enter or sit in the clubhouse (nabali). Then, when he gets older, he joins the clubhouse.

The Lokoya Tribe

About 30,000 in numbers, the Lokoya, an ethnic group that split off from the Otuho people, live in the region of South Sudan between Jubek State and Eastern Equatoria State. The name by which the people are known is Lokoya. It is a mispronunciation of the moniker “Akokoya,” which the Bari gave them in reference to their livestock rustling activities.

They live in the valleys and hills east of Juba in the Torit district of the east bank of Equatoria. They are included in the ohoryok group of the Lotuka sub-ethnicity. Liria and Ngangala are the two principal towns of the Lokoya. The Lokoya subscribe to a traditional governance system which combines spiritual, political and administrative authority. The monyomiji – ruling age set, wield power over a period of 25 years after which, the younger age-set takes over.

The Lopit Tribe

The Lopit are an ethnic group in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State. They are traditionally known as donge (plural) or dongioni (singular). The Lopit population ranges from 160,000 to 200,000 people, who live in the Lopit Mountains, which extend from the east to the north of Torit. The Lopit area is bounded to the north by Pari, to the north and east by Tennet, to the north and east by Bari, to the north-west by Lokoya and Otuho, to the south by Otuho and Dongotono, and to the east by Toposa and Boya. Lopit is made up of 55-57 villages. Imehejek is the county seat of Lopa and is located in the Lopit area. The Lopit area is divided into six administrative areas: Imehejek, Lohutok, and Obunge (south), Arilo (partly north), Longiro, and Bule.

The Lopit are agro-pastoralists who practice traditional agriculture as well as livestock rearing in a hilly environment. These socioeconomic occupations take place on both mountain slopes and plains. Sorghum, bulrush, millet, pumpkin; groundnuts, simsim, and okra are the main crops. They also collect forest products such as honey and shea nuts, from which they extract oil. The Lopit, like other groups in the area, hunt extensively. They trade in a variety of commodities, including cattle, groundnuts, sorghum, honey, chicken, handicrafts, okra, calabashes, hoes, and tobacco.

The Lopit are extremely proud of their cultural identity, which influences the majority of their attitudes and social interactions. Their material culture (particularly that of the southern Lopit) is similar to but distinct from that of the Otuho (especially in central and northern Lopit). They practice several cultural initiations, including naming initiation in childhood, adulthood, camp initiation (i.e. Mangat), and age-set initiation.

The Lotuka Tribe

The Lotuko or Latuka, also known as the Othuo, are a Nilotic ethnic group from South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state. Their population ranges from 500,000 to 700,000. Otuho villages include Oronyo, Oudo, Langairo, Tirangore, Hiyala, Obira, Abalua, illieu, Ifwotu, Imurok, Offi, Oming, Oguruny, illoli, Murahatiha, chalamini, Burung, Haforiere, Hutubak, Oriaju, Olianga, and Hidonge. They communicate in Otuho.

The Lotuka live in villages. There are sixteen known such villages, the most important of which are Iliu, Hiyala, Lobira, and others in terms of population dominance. According to the 1983 population census, the Lotuka number between 69,000 and 75,000 people, who live in sixteen villages and Torit town.

The primary function of a kobu or chief is to make rain, but among the Lotuka, as opposed to other neighboring tribes in the district, where the kobu rarely has any power outside his function, chiefs have always wielded considerable political power. Nobody can be a truly efficient rainmaker unless they are descended from rainmakers on both sides. Chiefs always marry the daughter of a chief or rain-maker as their primary wife. In this regard, women have equal power to men, and the district has three female rainmakers.

The Lugbara / Lugbwara

The Lugbara are an ethnic group primarily found in Uganda’s West Nile region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Morobo County Republic of South Sudan. They speak the Lugbara language, a Central Sudanic language related to the Madi, with whom they share many cultural similarities. They are also found in South Sudan, where they go by the names Mundu and others. A leopard is the Lugbara’s cultural symbol. They are well-established subsistence farmers. Cassava has replaced rice as the traditional staple. Millet, sorghum, legumes, pigeon peas, and a variety of root crops are also grown.

Before cassava was introduced to the Lugbara to alleviate famine in the 1960s when cereal [millet and sorghum] failed due to drought, millet and sorghum were their staple foods. Chicken, goats, and cattle are also important at higher elevations. Grown are groundnuts, simsim[sesame], chick peas, and sweet potatoes. Tobacco is an important cash crop, and maize is grown for brewing beer. Avocado, pineapple, and mangoes are new emerging crops. Traditionally, surplus foodstuffs were exchanged locally through gifts between kin and barter with others.

The clan is the highest social organization among the Lugbwara, and it is normally led by the clan leader known as the Opi. Members of the same clan share common ancestors and agnatic lineage. The clan elders wielded power over political and social affairs, as well as the ability to curse and punish disobedient members. The Lugbwara had a clientage system (amadingo) in which the rich looked after the poor and destitute. If such clients wanted to stay in the system, they could be given land and dowry.

The Lulubo Tribe

According to the 1983 census, the Lulubo are an ethnic group of 30,000 to 40,000 people living in Eastern Equatoria state, South Sudan. Lulubo land, now known as Lomega Payam of Juba County, is located to the south-east of Juba. The people call themselves Olu’bo, but their cousins and neighbors, the Madi, refer to them as Lulubo, which translates to “far people.” (Lulu means “far away,” and ‘ba means “people”).

The Lulubo society, while distinct from their neighbors the Bari and Lotuka, is organized and heavily influenced by these neighboring communities. Some of their social and cultural practices resemble Lotuka’s. The Lulubo engage in hunting, which is both a cultural practice and an economic activity. Despite the fact that the age-set system has become an important factor in the socio-political management of the Lulubo society, unlike the Lotuka, the elders retain their power as the main decision-makers on community concerns.

The Maban Tribe

The Mabaano, also known as ‘Burun,’ ‘Maban,’ or ‘Chai,’ are a Nilotic people who live in the plains between the Nile east of Renk and the Ethiopian Highlands. They number around 100,000 people and are made up of several independent groups. In Southern Blue Nile, the Burun group (Uduk, Jumjum, Ragreg, Ganza, Mopo, and Mayak) is found in the following settlements: Wullu, Buot, Gowali, Wedega, Mayak, Mapo, Karenkaren, Kurmuk, Yabus, Jorot, and Jale; while in Upper Nile, the groups are Mabano, Buldid, and Maiwut. Maban (Buny), Kigale, and Dago are the other major towns. South Sudanese

The Maban land consists of flat plains between the Nile and the Ethiopian Highlands’ foothills. The vegetation ranges from poor to rich savannah, and the area receives sufficient annual rainfall to support agricultural practices. The economy is primarily subsistence-based, with sorghum, maize, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and simsim being the main crops. The Maban raise pigs and fowls for domestic consumption and trade with their neighbors. Clans are formed in Maban society based on matrilineal lineages. Agrarian societies must have social values related to agricultural production, hunting, and so on. The Maban have two major social events each year:

The first is the feast of sacrifice, confession, and blessing (kornga). Each year in October, the community confesses and asks God for forgiveness for the previous year’s sins and wrongdoings. They also ask for tolerance and good health for both humans and animals. People go to a nearby stream very early in the morning to wash away all the bad things. When they return to the farm, they slaughter animals, drink sorghum beer, and dance (dukka-conkon). People dress up in their best clothes and bead decorations for this ceremony (burngo). The second is the harvest feast (Gatti) which is performed in December. In this ceremony the matured boys and girls are prepared for marriage; animals are slaughtered; food and beer served. The boys and girls appear in their smartest look, wearing necklaces (linyan).

The Madi People

The Mà’di people live in South Sudan’s Pageri County and Uganda’s Adjumani and Moyo districts. The area stretches from Nimule on the South Sudan-Uganda border to the Nyolo River, where the Ma’di mix with the Acholi, Bari, and Lolubo. It runs from Parajok/Magwi to Uganda across the Nile from east to west. The Madi people live in the Torit district, where the Nile River makes a sharp bend into Uganda. They can be found in Uganda’s west Nile districts of Moyo and Adjumani.

The recently concluded 22-year civil war has reduced the number of Madi in Sudan, and the majority of their villages are now occupied by displaced people from other parts of the South. The Madi’s social and political structure is intertwined with spirituality, which informs their attitudes and traditions. The society is divided into chiefdoms, each of which is led by a hereditary chief known as the Opi. The Opi wielded both political and religious authority.

The rain-makers, land chiefs – vudipi (who wields significant power over the land), and chiefs are thought to retain similar powers after death. There was a hierarchy of spirits that corresponded exactly to the society’s hierarchy of authority. The Madi’s social and political structure is intertwined with spirituality, which shapes their attitudes and traditions. The society is divided into chiefdoms, each of which is led by a hereditary chief known as the Opi. The Opi wielded both political and religious authority. The rain-makers, land chiefs – vudipi (who wields significant power over the land), and chiefs are thought to retain similar powers after death. There was a hierarchy of spirits that corresponded exactly to the society’s hierarchy of authority. The Opi (Chief/King) is Madi’s highest authority; he is followed in rank by the community of elders who are in charge of resolving disputes in the clans/villages.

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