Saturday, 2 July 2011

Azande people


Azande also known as Zande to outsiders

Area of residence
Maridi county
Yambio county
Tambura county 
Also within Western Bahr el Ghazal State

    There is no sensational origin of the Azande people. The general myth is that the Azande clans return to life once they die. They are incarnated in the form of some animal, which are mostly lion - for the biggest chiefs of the royal clan, leopard, python, snake, wart-hog, rat and lightning. The death of the animal is therefore the end of all things. Men will not kill the animal they believe they turn into except in self defence.


    Pazande,also called Zandi,Sande, Kizande and Badjange . 


    The Azande society is divided into the royal clans – the Avungara, centred on their great leader Gbudwe, his two sons Yambio and Tambura.Whilst the commoners, most of whom could have been incorporated into the Azande through wars, conquest and assimilation. Azande settlements are solitary i.e. a household consisting of the man and his wife (or wives), nevertheless they ascribe to certain social norms and practices. 

    Socio-political system

    The Azande socio-political system is an intricate admixture of feudalism, traditional, political and administrative authority and witchcraft, charm, etc. After the destruction of their kingdom, the Azande now have chiefs, mostly from the royal clan who combine judicial and spiritual prowess.

    The role of the chief

    The chief invokes witchcraft and oracles, for which the Azande are renowned, to determine and administer justice on those suspected of crimes including adultery, murder through bewitching or evil eyes. In the old days, thieves had their ears cut off and their backs scored with a knife leaving large permanent scars.

    Another punishment was to break open an ant-hill and tie the offender on the top of it, intense pain being caused by the armies of soldier ants that would swarm over him.

    Men and witchcraft

    Men suspected of witchcraft, and also occasionally thieves, might be confined in their house and burnt alive. Men accused of committing adultery, especially with their Chiefs’ wives, if not killed outright were emasculated and in addition had their hands, ears and lips cut off.

    Culture and Customs

    The Azande demonstrate a high degree of superstition and are prone to witchcraft and charms. There is nothing as a natural death among the Azande. No matter the cause of a person''s death, he/she is supposed to have been bewitched. The Azande believe that certain people afflicted with mangu cause everyone’s death.


    The Azande culture and art is rich and is expressed in songs, music and dance in self-praise. There is an intricate system of oracles and folklore which remained largely oral.

    The Azande produce excellent bark-cloth, baskets woven from barks and leaves of palm, different types and  varieties of wooden craft, tables and chairs, bow and arrows and special iron knives and swords.


    The Azande dance is performed predominantly at night during full moons. The men stand in circle moving their feel in lime to the drums and swaying their bodies and heads from side to side the forearms are held parallel to the ground with the palms of the hand turned upwards.

    At times the whole circle goes round in file with the women forming an inner circle. They dance to the sound of the drums and sing topical songs more often rather obscene. Different songs require different ways of beating the drums and all have a chorus in which everyone joins.

    Neighbour relations

    The Azande have had difficult relations with the neighbours namely the Moru, Mundu, Pöjulu and the small groups in Bahr el Ghazal due to their expansionist policy of their King Gbudwe in the eighteenth century. The Azande fought the French and the Belgians, the Mahdist to maintain their independence. They tried in vain to subdue the Dinka in Bahr el Ghazal.

    Images,references and further reading:   Wikipedia  Gurtong

    Western Equatoria State Part 2


    Avukaya people


    50,000+ people


    Avukaya Language is part of the Bantu speaking group

    Traditions and Customs

    The Avukaya concept of state and thus, political organisation is rudimentary if it has ever existed. Witchcraft, charm, oracles, play a dominant role in the lives of the Avukaya; particularly in the administration of justice. The chiefs appointed by the state wield power among their people.

    Like the Azande, the Avukaya demonstrate a high degree of superstition and are prone to witchcraft and charm. On death, a person is believed to return to life in another form suggesting that existence of spirits of the departed, who are able to communicate with the living. The Avukaya believe in the existence of the super being (God).

    The Avukaya produce excellent bark-cloth, baskets woven from barks and leaves of palm, different types and varieties of wooden craft, tables and chairs, bow and arrows and special iron knives and swords.t

    The Avukaya culture and art is rich and expressed in songs, music and dance in self-praise. There is an intricate system of oracles and folklore which remained largely oral. 
    Neighbour Relations

    The Avukaya neighbour the Moro, Mundu and the Pöjulu. They seem to enjoy cordial relationship with their neighbours unlike the Azande.

    Baka people

     community map


    25,000 to 30,000 people

    Area of residence
    Maridi County
    Yei River County (Central Equatoria State)
     Watsa and Faradje in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 


      There is very little so far to indicate their origin. However, the Baka are said to have migrated from Central African Republic in the company of the Bongo, Jur ‘Beli, Moro Kodo and others. They are believed to have moved south-westwards to their present location as a result of Azande pressure.


      Baka language is related to the Bongo, Moro Kodo and Jur ‘Beli referred to as central Sudanic group.


      The Baka are predominantly agrarian and the most important social events that bring them together include hunting, marriage celebrations, funerals and funeral rituals, etc

      Moru people

      Moro or Moru


      The Moru are said to have come from West Africa but there is nothing in their memory that points to how they came to where they are presently. However, what remains sharply in their memory are the attacks by the Azande which drove the Moru onto a hill near Lui and the raids by slavers from Congo .


      Moru.The Moru language is related to the Madi, Avukaya, Lugbwara, Keliku and Lulubo.

      Demographics and population:

      80,000-100,000 people

      The Moru nationality consists of clans or sections :

      Meza (the largest)
        Area of residence

        Mundri and Maridi Counties. 

        Spirituality and beliefs

        The Moru people have been greatly influenced by Christianity and many of them are Christians. Nevertheless, the traditional system of beliefs still endures in some areas. Sorcery is practiced. The rainmakers are respected and wield influence in the lives of the people.

        It is difficult for a Moru to disobey a rainmaker unless a bad event occurs,in this circumstance the situation can only be treated by a rainmaker. There are also fortune-tellers and witch-doctors who can cleanse one of the bad omens inflicted by a wizard .

        Images,References and Further Reading: Gurtong (1,2,3)

        Western Equatoria State Part 1

        Western Equatoria State




        • Ibba
        • Maridi
        • Mundri East
        • Mundri West
        • Mvolo
        • Nzara
        • Nagero
        • Ezo
        • Tambura
        • Yambio
        Capital city:


        Area of Land:

        79,343 sq km.


        Over 1,731,341 people

        Tribes which reside in Western Equatoria State:


        Images,References and Further Reading:  Wikipedia

        Pari people

         Pari (Paeri) or Jo-Pari (people of Pari)

        Area of residence:
         Lafon County (formerly Torit District).

        History of Pari Land

        In the past Pari lived in Lipul Hill (Jebel Lafon) in Wiatuo, Bura, Puchwa, Pugeri, Kor and Angulumere.
        In 1993 all the villages were burnt down in the war, which left people scattered and now live in various settlements along the Hoss ‘Atondi’ river to the east and the Hinyetti ‘Chol’ river to the east. 


        Dhi-Pari (mouth of Pari).The Pari people are a Luo speaking people of the Nilotic language group.


        The Pari clearly recognize their Luo origin. Oral tradition has it that all Luo used to live together at ‘Wi-Pach’ somewhere in eastern Bahr el Ghazal. They then dispersed because of the quarrel among the three brothers: Nyikango, Dimo and Giilo. There is another story of fight among two brothers, Uthienho and Giilo. The latter was killed by the former because of jealousy. It seems that this story refers to an event of more ancient times.

        Society and traditions

        There are two traditional political systems among the Pari: chieftainship and mojomiji, a graded age-set system. A village is a political and territorial unit and each has its own hereditary chief (rwath). But the chief of Wiatuo, the largest village, is recognized as the chief for the entire Pari. He is the ‘rain-chief’ (rwadhi-koth) whose main role is to bring enough rain for the whole community. Apart from him, there is a ‘bird-chief’ (rwadhi-winyo) whose job is rather specific: to get rid of weaver birds that may destroy sorghum. He is from Puchwa village, but is responsible for the Pari as a whole.


        The Pari believe in jwok (pl. juu). There are many places of jwok, including Lipul, where offerings and sacrifices are made. They also say that Jwok is like the wind and is therefore, everywhere. This is both good and bad for human beings. There are traditional healers-diviners or witch doctors. They are both men and women and called ajwa (pl. ajuu). A dying person makes either a blessing (gweth) or curse (cien). The power  of a curse is very much feared, as it may bring disasters not only to individuals but to the entire community.

        References,Images and further reading: Gurtong

        Madi people

        Madi (Mà'dí)

        Area of residence:
        Torit county

        Madi People are found mostly in Uganda with the minority found in Southern South Sudan


        Madi territory is hilly and traversed by rivers and streams. 

        Their economy is based on subsistence agriculture, in which the main crops are sorghum, maize, cassava, groundnuts and tobacco.The Madi also rear small herds of cattle, goats and sheep as well as fowl.

        Madi ti .The Madi language is part of the Moru-Madi group of languages


        The mystery of the birth of their origin tends to puzzle the Madi, whose beliefs are based on reproduction and hence, their origin as a people.

        Rabanga is the supreme being responsible for creation. In addition to being a spirit, Rabanga was also regarded as the earth in the sense of ‘Mother Earth’. This was grounded in the logic that everything is born from the earth.

        • There are more than 45 rainmaking centres . 
        • Their are only two exceptions rain could be made by the rainmaker by using a special set of stones which, were usually white in colour. 
        • The Madi believe that ‘rain stones’ come with rain from the sky and they are categorised as ‘male’ and ‘female’ stones.

        Spirituality and Beliefs

        The whole life of the Madi is centred on the belief that their ancestors survived after death as spirits known as ori. It is believed that the ori could intervene directly in human affairs. The Madi attribute every misfortune to the anger of a spirit and in the event of a misfortune or sickness, they would immediately consult an odzo or odzogo (witchdoctor) to find out which ancestor was behind the ordeal.

        Sacrifices were then offered to the particular spirit in order to avert its malign influence on the living. The powerful families among the Madi bas were believed to have powerful ancestral spirits to help them. ''Babu-garee'' constitutes the whole paraphernalia of the spirits of the dead.

        References,Images and further reading: Gurtong



        30,000 - 50,000 people inhabiting what is now


        Leb Acholi (Acholi).Acholi are  a Luo speaking group.

        Area of residence

        Magwe County, originally part of Torit District on the east bank of Equatoria,which is now part of Eastern Equatoria State. 


        The Acholi are part of the wider Acholi ethnic group where the majority reside in Northern Uganda,in area known as Acholiland.

        Different accounts attest that the Acholi group was formed from different people who inhabited the area as the result of Luo migration and therefore assert that the Acholi are a product of intermarriages between the Luo and the Madi; being Luo in language and custom and therefore closely related in history to the Alur of West Nile, the Jopadhola of eastern Uganda and the Joluo of Kenya, the Shilluk, Anyuak and other Luo groups in the South Sudan.


        The Acholi society is a sedentary, agrarian community organised in chiefdoms, which vary greatly in size but consist of a cluster of villages including the surrounding territory used for agriculture and hunting over which the Rwot exercise his authority.

        This territory comprises of the aristocrats who are the agnatic kins of the Rwot commoners who are not related to the Rwot. The villages formed a protected ring around the royal village ‘gang kal’.


        The Acholi culture is expressed in songs, music and dance. The Acholi compose tuneful songs to incidences of interest and colourful communal dance .


        The Acholi have cordial relationships with their neighbours  Madi but not with the Lotuka or Lokoya.    
        The Acholi neighbour:
        The Madi to the west and southwest
        The Lokoya and the Lotuka to the east and northeast
        The Lulubo and Bari to the north. 

          The Acholi are now also found in :
          Northern Uganda
            References,Images and further reading: Gurtong

            Eastern Equatoria State Part 2


            Dongotono people


            Over 20,000 people,

            The Dongotono people reside in:

            amongst other areas

              Dongotono people are Lotuka speaking and speak a dialect of Otuho (Lotuka)

              A Dongotono village

              The Dongotono people are closely related to the Lango and Logir,who all migrated into Eastern Equatoria in the 19th century.

              Imatong people


              Dialect of Otuho (Lotuka)

              Beliefs and Customs
              Imatong people are known for their spiritual beliefs.They also tend to be extremely conscious of the spirits notwithstanding the fact that they don’t distinguish between the religious and secular aspects of life.Imatong people also believe in a supreme being,which they communicate to through the spirits of their ancestors,amongst other mediums.

              Imatong culture is orally transmitted through speech, songs, poems, music and other bodily decorations reflecting the highest values of the self and the community. They also have perfected the arts of warfare and hunting. They have drums, whistles made from the horns of games and other artefacts.

              Lotuka people

              Lotuka Dance

              Otuho widely known as Lotuka

              Exceeds 100,000 people

              The Lotuka are well known for their traditions which include:


              Which is a nongopira (ceremony of making fire) which held every 16 years using two straight sticks. If the sticks which are cut are weak or crooked,so will the next generation of men and women.All fires in the village are extinguished and re-lighted with the fire made with these sticks.

              On this occasion the men of the younger generation take over the duties of military service from their seniors. They are given a collective name which they endeavour to make renowned in songs. Men above or below the age fight as volunteers.The monyomiji or graduates are responsible for the daily running of public affairs and the well-being of the community: they keep internal peace, settle disputes

              Throughout every village magicians (Ibwoniu or Neibwoni) are always present,they behave like ordinary people but they are distinctive due to their behaviour patterns. Some are known to smear their selves with dirt,whilst others are known to belch loudly repetitively,roll their eyes and pretend to throw fits.

              References,Images and further reading: Gurtong (1,2,:3)