South Sudan: Africa's last frontier

Why South Sudan?

South Sudan became an independent country in July 2011. Before it had been part of greater Sudan and previously a region named Equatoria ruled by the British. It was during the British colonization that this part of West Africa was declared a ‘Closed District’. From 1916 until 1946 no roads, no Western education, hospitals or mission station where allowed in that territory. This 30 years of isolation explain, in part, why we find tribal structures and traditions that have been lost if most of Africa. The long Civil War (1956-2002) also helped to isolate many regions of what is today the Republic of South Sudan.

Last Places team visited South Sudan in November 2012 and we fell in love with the new African nation. South Sudan is unique for its tribes, its wild unspoilt nature, and its untamed spirit.
Dinka, Nuer and Mundari giant cattle camps are already a traveller’s myth. Every year more and more people want to experience what it feels like to roam inside one of the many cattle camps along the White Nile and meet the long horned cows and its owners the Nilotic tribal cattle herders…tallest and darkest people on Earth. It is just magic.

Continuing northwards, towards the Sudan border, we find the Sudd, Africa’s largest freshwater ecosystem with approximately 57,000 km2. It home of the last big herds of elephants in the Horn of Africa and the refuge for hundreds of bird species. It is also home of South Sudan’s dominating tribal groups, the Dinka, the Nuer and the Shilluk.

If we drive (or fly) eastwards we reach two key regions of South Sudan and major attractions for those travelling there. First, the mountain region around Torit city and second the plains of Kapoeta. South Sudan’s Imatong, Dongotona, Lopit, and Didinga are home of several tribal groups and small kingdoms that have survived to this day. For trekkers and rare flora lovers Mount Kinyeti (3.187 mts.) in the heart of Imatong Mountain Range is their place to go. For tribal and history lovers, Dongotona, Lopit and Didinga Mountain Ranges are unique paradises in Africa not to be missed.

Last Places organises tailor made trips to all these mountains regions of South Sudan with expert guides and all the necessary hiking and camping equipment.

The second part of eastern South Sudan revolves around Kapoeta City, great everyday market place. Capital of Toposa tribe, one of Africa’s most conservative and traditionalist tribes. Toposa, part of Ateker ethnic group together with Karamajong in Uganda, Turkana in Kenya and Nyangatom in Ethiopia, are cattle herders and live in isolated fenced villages. They practice body and facial scarification and Toposa women still cover their bodies with decorated cow and goat skin.

From Kapoeta all tribal lovers can explore Larim and Didinga territories. Unique vernacular architecture, amazing ecosystem and rich unspoilt tribal culture like anywhere in Africa… North of Kapoeta, following the Ethiopian border one can reach Boma National Park, the size of Belgium and the area where Africa’s second largest ungulate migration takes place. Spotting this natural wonder is not easy but with time and means one can experience Africa as it used to be. Boma also hosts one of the few remaining mountain tropical forests left in the Horn of Africa. That forests protects small primates, parrots, rare amphibians, endemic reptiles and the Kachipo tribe. This tribe, related to the famous Surma or Suri people in the Ethiopian western side of Omo River, are probably Africa’s last untouched tribal group. An important trek is needed to reach their remote settlements up Boma Plateau.

As experts in South Sudan we cannot seize to recommend it as a unique and rare destination in Africa. It is probably the last place in Africa where you can feel real Africa.

Dinka

Also known as Jieng or Muony-Jang. The people call themselves Jieng (Upper Nile) or muonyjang (Bahr el Ghazal). Arabs call them Jiengge.

Population & Ecosystem
The Dinka is the largest single national grouping in South Sudan. Numbering about 2.5 to 3 million and constituting of more than 25 aggregates of different Dinka sections (Wut). The Dinka are found in Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile and Southern Kordofan regions. Each Dinka section has a separate political entity with established rights to a well-defined territory. The main sections and sub-sections and their geographic locations include.

The Dinka habitat ranges from ironstone plateau of Bahr el Ghazal and the flood plains (toch) between the White Nile River and its numerous tributaries and distributaries to the rich savannah grasslands of Upper Nile.

Economy & Society
The economy is largely traditional animal husbandry, subsistence agriculture, fishing and hunting. Ownership of livestock is familial; and is a basis of social status/standing in society. The larger the herd the more prestigious the family.

The Dinka are proud and ethnocentric but, nevertheless, hospitable and friendly more often than not demonstrating a high moral standard, code of behaviour, feeding mannerism and sense of personal dignity and integrity. The Dinka are least touched by modernisation; their pride and ethnocentrism must be important factors in their conservatism and resistance to change. Dinka culture is centred on cattle. It is the medium of exchange whether in marriage, payment of debts and blood price, or for sacrifices to the spirits and on major occasions and rites.

The Dinka have large vocabulary for cattle, their colours and take great interest and pride in the art of making different conformations to which their horns can be trained to grow. When discussing, debating about anything or in a dance, a Dinka usually throws up his arms in imitation of the shape of the horns of ox.

The Dinka are an acephalous tribe. The concept of state and hence political institutions, structure and consequently authority does not exist among the Dinka. Each Dinka section is an autonomous political entity in itself.

Chieftainship is hereditary and holds the title of beny, which translates into different things such as chief, expert, or military officer. The spiritual leaders exert great influence. Except in few cases, the spiritual leaders more often reject secular authority. Dinka chiefs exercised authority by persuasion not through any known instruments of coercion and force.

Culture & Religion
Initiation into adulthood takes different styles and ceremonies. They invariably remove the 4 lower canines as a sign of maturity. A girl’s physiological evolution and attainment of puberty is marked by celebration (usually by women) to demonstrate readiness for marriage. Some Dinka sections scarify the face to mark graduation into adulthood and age-group. In some, women of particular status have their faces scarified.

The sphere of the living and the dead (ghosts) interact. Tradition permits addressing God and the spirits of the departed ancestors and relatives either directly or through a medium in a special offering place yik, situated in every Dinka homestead.

The most important culture asset of the Dinka is the cattle camp, where all social activities; traits and behaviours, valour, generosity and respect for social norms are cultivated. Dinka literature remains orally expressed in songs, poems, and folklore.

The different Dinka sections have evolved their different articles of arts, music and folklore. There are of course many different types of dance formations and songs. The common art is that of war: spear and stick. The Dinka start practicing stick and spear duelling with great dexterity from their youth.

After 1984, modernity and foreign ideas (Christian missionaries) have permeated Dinka culture and are slowly replacing their traditions and customs. Many Dinka have converted to Christianity. They have adopted either jellabia or European dress and now nudity and wearing beaded corsets are a rare sight even in the cattle camps.
 

Mundari

Also known as Mandari.

Population & Ecosystem
Numbering about 100,000, the Mundari live north of Juba between the White Nile and Tali Hills. Mundari-land is wooded savannah lying on both sides of the River Nile. The western part is drained by numerous seasonal and perennial streams and becomes swampy during the rainy season.
 
Economy & Society
The Mundari are ago-pastoralist and the economy is centred on subsistence agriculture and herding of livestock.

The main crops are sorghum, maize, groundnuts, simsim. The Mundari raise a considerable number of cattle, goats and sheep that are essential as mediums: connecting human beings and this world with the world of gods.

The Mundari are divided into three sections namely:
- The earlier indigenous population
- The Bora 
- The groups of immigrants into Mundari who have gradually succeeded in establishing powerful chiefdoms. 

The Mundari society is organised into agnatic exogamous lineages. A landowning lineage - varying in size from about 15 to over 50 adult males - live in a chain of hamlets with each hamlet under a family head. A hamlet is occupied by an elder, his married sons with their dependants and as many maternal relatives who have settled with them.

The hamlets may or may not be situated contiguously to form the residential unit loosely called a village. Big Mundari villages have their own water supplies and grazing lands but small ones composed of minor lineages or small landowning clans, often share water and grazing.

The society is knit together by social events in the hamlets and in the cattle camps. While in daily tasks new ties of common residence result from mutual aid and entertainment of neighbours, the closest ties are still with the next of kin, left behind in the old hamlets (the people to whom an automatic appeal is made in time of need).

Generosity is highly respected among the Mundari and there are sanctions that are applicable to the mean, greedy, and parsimonious who may figure in satirical songs; be teased or spurned in the girls’ courting-huts. It is believed that the grumbling and annoyance of mean people arouse will make them ill.

Unsociable behaviour in prominent elders such as habitually eating at home instead of sharing their food in the hamlet kraal, evokes criticism. The importance of sharing is emphasized in Mundari upbringing and the young learn to be generous by constantly exchanging pipes, necklaces, or bracelets, and passing on to others anything that is not immediately needed.
 
Mundari country is divided into independent village-chiefdoms. The traditional boundaries of chiefdoms enclose important spheres of partisan loyalty, social activity and religious affiliation. Personalities whose forbearers represented the past autonomy of a group continue to wield influence even though they may lack political authority (administrative chiefs imposed by the government).

Traditionally, Mundari chief is hereditary - male line and is referred to as chief of the country. There is also the chief of the meeting shade and council. The performers of rain rites and those for shea trees wield influence; so are the elders and cattle camp leaders.
 
Culture & Religion
The Mundari culture is oral transmitted orally in songs, many of which are satirical for correcting misdemeanour in society, dance, poems and other body expressions that reflect good, generosity, and other core values of the Mundari. They have developed physical arts that demonstrate Mundari cultural identity. They have perfected the arts of war implements and body decorations such as scarification and beautiful beaded corsets (similar to those of the Dinka). Corsets where forbidden in 1984 (Sharia law) but today there is a cultural revival among some Mundari clans, supported and promoted by Last Places.

The Mundari are highly religious. They believe God 'Ngun' hears what men say and assesses people’s deeds. This belief helps shape one’s life and social behaviour. The Mundari conduct religious and rituals through mediums, landowning chiefs, who are responsible for the well-being of their chiefdoms, and the doctors, who are also diviners and treat sicknesses.
 

Imatong

Also known as Horiyok.

Population & Ecosystem
2.000 Imatong inhabit south eastern slopes of the Imatong Mountains. The land of the Imatong is rugged low-lying hilly terrain dissected by deep valleys and gently sloping plains. The climate is mild with a relatively heavy annual rainfall that supports thick bushy forests and tall grass.

Economy & Society
The Imatong economy like that of their neighbouring communities is traditional with little barter and trade. They practice subsistence agriculture, but keep livestock and engage in hunting. The area has a huge potential in forestry and its products e.g. timber; and hydro-electric power.

Without clear political differentiation the Imatong rely on the dominating age group to run the affairs of their respective villages. Other important persons that wield authority include the rain makers, fortune tellers and diviners.

The Imatong, like other Lotuko speaking people, are organised into exogamous agnatic clans and families settled in homesteads grouped in villages. They practice age-set set system. Their most important social events include hunting, marriage celebrations, funeral rites and rain-making ceremonies.

Culture & Religion
Like the culture of all the Lotuko speaking people, 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.

The Imatong are extremely conscious of the spirits notwithstanding the fact that they don’t distinguish between the religious and secular aspects of life. They believe in the existence of a Supreme Being and are able to communicate with it through the spirits of the ancestors and the mediums.
 

Dongotona

Also known as Dongotono.

Population & Ecosystem
Numbering a little over 2000 people, the Dongotona inhabit the upper reaches of north-western slopes of the Dongotono massif. The physical environment is dominated by large outcrops of metamorphic rocks adjoined by flat-lying to gentle sloping plains. Their important settlements are Ikotos, Isoke, and Bira. The Dongotona live in dense plain and mountain villages a mode that, unlike in other communities, prompts construction of urinals inside the village.

Economy & Society
The rainfall regime is tropical and supports vegetation typical of mountainous terrain and subsistence agriculture of the Dongotona. The main crops are: sorghum, groundnuts, simsim, telebun, dukn and sweet potatoes. The Dongotona keep large herds of cattle, sheep and goats.

The Dongotona resemble the Lotuko in many aspects of their social organisation. The society is organised into exogamous agnatic clans, some of whom relate to animals (leopard, bush-buck, monkey, elephant, crocodile, etc.) and lightning, to which they are assumed to transform into when they die.

Like the Lotuko whom they neighbour and with whom they share a lot, the Dongotona have age-classes but do not perform the ‘new fire’ ceremony. Their initiates are secluded in the forest feeding on forest food for 5 days at the end of which, they return to feast on slaughtered but un-skinned roasted goat meat, marked by serving as servants of the senior age-class.

The importance of age-class lies in warfare, cattle raids and other social events. It is also linked to certain traits and etiquette. Traditionally, the Dongotona have the rain chiefs as the most celebrated personality who performed both spiritual as well as administrative functions. The position is hereditary. No one can be a really efficient rain-maker and not descended from rain-makers on both sides.

In addition to the rain makers, there are government chiefs, elders and clan chiefs. The Dongotona like other smaller communities have lately began to practice ruling age-class.
 
Culture & Religion
Like the other agro-pastoral communities in the area, the Dongotona culture borrows from the Lotuko. It is essentially oral transmitted in songs, dance, folklore and music. Most of their arts and musical instruments are similar to those of the Lotuko. The Dongotona revere the Sawa, a sacred grove in the Dongotono massif where they perform annual rain rituals. The Dongotona bury their dead outside the hut but like other neighbouring communities but have a practice of exhuming the corpse or the bones of the dead in anticipation of one’s transformation into the clan animal or in some healing rituals.

The Dongotona believe in spirits that transform into the clan’s animal when the body dies. They believe that magicians, mediums and fortune tellers can change one’s misfortune through some witchcraft and magic.
 

Lotuko

Also known as Lotuka, Lotuho, Otuko or Otuho.

Population & Ecosystem
70.000 Lotuko live in sixteen dense villages in the mountains and adjoining plains. Some villages, such as Ilieu date back to the 14th Century.

Economy & Society
The Lotuko They are perfectly agro-pastoralists keeping large herds of cattle, sheep and goats. They engage in subsistence agriculture with main crops grown being sorghum, ground nuts, sesame, and maize in the plains, while in the hill they grow telebun, dukhn, sweet potatoes, a kind of yam, and tobacco. The basic social unit of the Lotuko is the Hang, which comprises the people who consider themselves as descendants of a common ancestor in a patrilineal sequence. The Hang and its members observe norms peculiar to it, which include hospitality, protection and support to individual people belonging to the clan. Each Hang has its particular animal, such as the elephant, crocodile and the hyena, into which it is believed that its members transform into after death. Social age and the incorporation of a homestead into a village, together with the kinship system, form the basis of society. A person, atulo can develop his life, rights and duties only as part of a village and under the protection of the age set organisation.

The Nongopira or ceremonial making of fire is held every sixteen years. Two straight sticks are cut. If they are weak or crooked so will be the men or women of the next generation. All fires in the village 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 graduates are responsible for the daily running of public affairs and the well-being of the community: they keep internal peace, settle disputes. The declare state of ‘non-violence’ in which no fighting is allowed in the village. The graduates can fire and appoint rain-makers.
 
The principal functions of a Lotuko chief or king, is to make rain. No one can be a really efficient rain-maker who is not descended from rain-makers on both sides. Chiefs always marry as principal wife the daughter of a chief or rain-maker. Women have equal power with the men in this respect, and there are three female rain-makers in the district.

Magicians are found in every village and behave like ordinary people while some of them smear themselves with dirt, belch loudly and repeatedly, and roll their eyes and pretend to throw fits.

Culture & Religion
The Lotuko culture shows in the daily life of the village and in the art of war and warfare for which they are renowned. Cultural artefacts include the shield, the copper helmets fitted with ostrich feathers, the skin apron worn by women etc. Traditionally, helmets where used for war purposes and today they are used for dancing. A helmet is made of human hair, sewn together and plastered with red ochre. It is decorated with brass ornaments and a plume of feathers of a kind of weaver bird. The shield, usually of buffalo hide, is bleached white, and three or four small-bladed spears are carried. The drums, usually kept on the house of drums in the village, consist of a large drum mother of all drums and five other drums which are usually kept together. The Lotuko musical instruments include: a large horn, which is two metres long made of bamboos sticks bound together and five small trumpet. Most of the Lotuko literature is oral comprising folklore, stories, songs and poems.

The Lotuko village consists of quarters, a meeting and dancing place that lies in the middle of the village and marked with ebony stakes driven firmly into the ground. The sacrificial stone lies in front of the square. In one side of the square there is a platform under which initiated men meet to discuss the day. The house of the drums is also near the meeting square.

The Lotuko houses are larger than is the case with most tribes in South Sudan. They are built close together, with a stout ebony and bamboo palisade between them. Each man has his sheep pen adjoining his house. They keep their houses and yards very clean, but throw ail refuse into the streets, which soon become several feet higher than the yards.

Lotuko have converted massively to Catholicism since 1964 with the arrival of Italian missionaries to the region. Despite the new imported religion, Lotuko still believe in Naijok, a neuter form, conceived chiefly as bringing death and disease. Everything not understood, however, is ascribed to naijok.
 

Lopit

Also known as Lopet.

Population & Ecosystem
The Lopit people number about 25.000 people and live in a hilly environment.

Economy & Society
The Lopit are agro-pastoralists practicing traditional agriculture as well as livestock rearing. These socio-economic occupations are carried out both on the mountain slopes and in the plains.

The main crops are sorghum, bulrush, millet, pumpkin; groundnuts, simsim, and okra. They also harvest forest products: honey and shea nuts from which they press oil. The Lopit, like other groups in the area practice extensive hunting. They engage in the trade of various commodities: cattle, groundnuts, sorghum, honey, chicken, handicrafts, okra, calabashes, hoes, tobacco.

The Lopit are very proud of their cultural entity and this informs most of their attitudes and social life. Their material culture (especially southern Lopit) is similar to the Otuho while at the same time distinct (especially in central and northern Lopit). They practice several cultural initiations: childhood (naming initiation), adulthood, initiation into the camp, and age-set initiation. The Lopit like the Lotuko transfer power to the younger age-set in an initiation ceremony after every 20 or 25 years. The village administration and all other affairs are handed to the new generation. The practice of this initiation slightly differs from village to the other. Most of the villages in southern Lopit tend to be influenced by the Lotuko practices while those in the centre and north have their rites in a manner quite different from that of Lotuko.

Culture & Religion
Lopit culture is orally transmitted through songs, poems, music that express feelings and emotions such as love, hate etc. Most of their physical culture and arts is adapted to warfare, hunting and other socio-economic activities and the daily life of the people.

The Lopit believe in a supreme being - God, the spirits and their spheres. Most of their beliefs and customs are influenced by the Lotuko culture.
 

Tenet

Also known as Tenett.

Population & Ecosystem
The 2.000 Tenet are a Murle-Boya speaking people inhabiting the northern most part of Lopit range, in a hilly terrain. They number a few thousand people.

Economy & Society
They are agro-pastoralists practicing traditional agriculture as well as livestock rearing mainly cattle, sheep and goats. They harvest forest products such as honey, wild fruits (shea nuts) and hunt on the mountain slopes and plains. The main crops are sorghum, bulrush, millet, pumpkin, groundnuts, simsim, and okra.

Like the Larim and Didinga, the Tenet are organised into exogamous clans and lineages. The main social events include:
- Hunting, which they practice in the beginning of the dry season, brings the whole population of the Tenet into the Kidepo Valley in pursuit of game.
- The age-set system and the kinship-system are fundamental to the Murle social and political organisation.
- The outstanding feature of the political system is the position of the clan chiefs and elders who are treated with the greatest respect.

Culture & Religion
The Tenet people have evolved a cultural regime of oral transmission from one generation to the other. It is centred round cattle and is expressed in songs, poetry, folklore and dance. They adorn their bodies with all kinds of markings and drawings of different animals and birds while wearing different types of beads.

The Tenet, like their kins the Murle and the Didinga are extremely conscious of the spirits.
 

Larim

Also known as Boya, Longarim, or Narim.

Population & Ecosystem
20.000 Larim live dispersed in solitary as well as collective settlements around the Boya Hills. The main town of the Boya is Kimatong at the foot of the Boya Hills. The Larim country is a rugged and hilly terrain with few shrub covered outcrops lying between the Kidepo Valley to the west and the Thangata River Valley to the east. The vegetation is that of rich savannah with high grassland and thick shrubby bushes.

Economy & Society
The Larim are agro-pastoralist. While they engage in cultivation of food crops like sorghum, maize, and beans, the bulk of their socio-economic activities rest on livestock herding and hunting of game and fishing. Livestock is the only known natural resource in Larim country.

The Larim are close relatives to the Didinga, the Murle and the Tenet. They believe they came from Ethiopia as part of the group whose separation into apparently different ethnic communities was provoked by the dispute over the gazelle soup. The Larim have lived in their present location since the 18th century. They have resisted the dominant Lotuko and Toposa maintaining strong links to the Didinga and Tenet.

The Larim are organised into exogamous lineages knit together by strong ties of community solidarity; custom and tradition have helped them survive planked by two hostile communities. The social organisation of the Larim is identical to that of the Didinga in terms of marriage and dowry settlement, rituals associated with birth, naming of the child, death and treatment of the diseased.

The Larim venerate valour, courage and machismo in their social relations and economic activities. This is reflected in the trepidation and fright their neighbours display when the Larim come raiding for cattle. The Larim food culture and habits is similar to the Murle. Beef and games meat form the biggest part of the Larim dish. The Larim have initiation rituals for passing into adulthood, which comes at about the age of eighteen and twenty for boys and fourteen for the girls.

Although they have not developed some form of state organisation only that the Larim have a traditional socio-political system in which administrative power is vested in the hereditary chiefs respected by all and sunder. The Larim share the same Rain Chief as the Didinga and indeed perform rain-making rituals in common.

Culture & Religion
The Larim evolved tradition and culture which revolves around cattle, cattle acquisition and hunting transmitted orally through generations. Cattle are the medium of exchange.

The Larim are highly religious. Their spirituality is not organised in some of religion but share with other religions the existence of a supreme being who the Larim believe controls all life including the health of their cattle. They believe the spirits of the departed ones still roam around them and therefore communicate with them through prayers and offerings which they perform collectively in designated ritual place.
 

Didinga

Also known as Lango, Toi or Xaroxa.

Population & Ecosystem
60,000 Didinga inhabit a hilly terrain. It rises to about 2,000 feet ending up in a plateau.

Economy & Society
It has sufficient rainfall to sustain thick vegetation and supports a burgeoning agriculture, in which the people cultivate maize, sorghum, beans, wheat, tobacco. The Didinga are pastoralists by inclination and agriculturalists by necessity.

They have two crops per year growing mainly maize, beans, millet, simsim, pumpkins or tobacco. They engage in craft making, pottery, etc. The Didinga county has a high potential for commercial farming of wheat, barley, maize, Irish potatoes etc. The Didinga pan alluvial and fluvial gold from the river beds. Other minerals with high economic potential include marble, limestone for cement making, gold and gemstones.

The Didinga society is sedentary agrarian. This has kind of isolated them resulting in much of the Didinga traditions and customs remaining almost intact. Didinga youth are initiated into adulthood every 3 years in a ceremony about the time they have grown their first head dress.

The Didinga do not practice, as in other communities, infant or pre-arranged marriages. The prospective couple is guided by their own feelings and emotions and only after they have agreed to marry does the suitor approach the parents of the bride. Ongoing to announce the affair he is accompanied by three friends and takes along 6 goats, a spear and a hoe. Dowry is agreed upon and settled. Sterility is not a ground for divorce, making divorce rare among the Didinga.    The Didinga are divided into two main groups: the eastern (more traditional) and western Didinga (more westernized).

The Didinga clans are exogamous. There is no definite centre or organisation. But the Didinga have the office of paramount chief, which is hereditary – a son or in default a brother’s son takes over. There is also a rain-chief. The rain chief receives offerings of goats to ensure rain and in return gives sacred water used in local rain ceremonies. Didinga chiefs lead in war and may summon people for an organised raid. In peace times they arbitrate in disputes among their own people or with aliens and generally represent their men when a litigant has a cause to plead before another chief.
 
Culture & Religion
The Didinga have musical implements, drums harps which are sounded on occasions, for example, when either going to dance, hunt or war. Facial and body scarification as well as body painting are still practiced by Didingas living in remote areas.

The Didinga like their neighbours live a life that accepts the existence of a supreme being and the sphere of spirits interacting with the living through prayers, offerings and gifts.
 

Toposa

Also known as Taposa or Topotha.

Population & Ecosystem
700.000 Toposa live in a rugged topography with hills and ridges cut by shallow plains and seasonal streams. It is arid with very little vegetation of shrubs and short grass. This environment has greatly influenced Toposa’s mode of social production plasticizing transhumance.

Economy & Society
The economy and social life centres around livestock mainly cattle, camels, donkeys, goats and sheep. They pan gold and other precious minerals in stream beds. The area has high potential in minerals resources.

The Toposa are part of a larger group known as the Ateker cluster, which in the Sudan include the Toposa, Nyangatom and Jiye; The Turkana across the borders in Kenya; the Jiye, Dodoth and Karamojong in Uganda.

The Toposa society is organised into lineages of which the family form the small unit. The Toposa social values and customs are passed onto the children as early as possible. It has to do with accumulation and keeping large herds of cattle.

The boys are organised as age-sets learn from their fathers and taught how to herd their livestock. Their first task is to take care of the goats and sheep but as they become of age, they graduate to a higher task of looking after the cattle. They then can travel distances looking for greener pasture and water. The girls on the other hand are taught to look after the home, the farms and to care for the elderly and children. Tradition has it that important matters are discussed and decision made in the early hours of the morning before sun rise. Respect for elders is mandatory for the younger generations. The Toposa society has no clear political organisation. Indeed the chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, fortune-tellers, medicine men, witch-doctors wield administrative and spiritual powers.

The Toposa abhor the practice of circumcision and indeed despise any circumcised person.

Cattle rustling and competition over the scarce resources of water and pasture has determined the relations between the Toposa and their neighbours.

Culture & Religion
The social events which bring the Toposa together in happiness and sorrow include dances, marriage celebrations, funerals and cattle raids. They share certain totems and body marks. The Toposa culture is orally transmitted through songs, dance, music, poems and folklore. Being pastoralists, they have perfected their art of war and cattle raiding. They are able to spy and gather information about the enemy, water, pastures, etc. with precision. The young men take great care and beauty of their hair.

The Toposa do not have an elaborate religious belief. They however believe in the existence of a Supreme Being and the spirits of the departed ancestors. They pray and make sacrifices for these spirits as they communicate with them through a medium. This is done in case of serious disaster e.g. droughts, epizootics affecting their animals, etc. The Toposa believe that the chiefs, particularly the paramount chiefs are nearer to God by virtue of their wisdom.

The introduction and easy availability of light weapons and small arms have a great impact on the life of the Toposa. The catholic Diocese of Torit is trying against odds to proselytise among the Toposa.
 

Jiye

Also known as Jie or Giye.

Population & Ecosystem
3.000 Jiye live in the plains at the foot of Boma Plateau. The climate is arid with heavy rain downpour between April and October.

Economy & Society
The Jiye herd in a traditional mode of cattle, sheep and goats. They engage in subsistence cultivation of sorghum and tobacco. They also practice transhumance, in search of water and pastures for their herds.

The social organisation and practice of the Jiye are identical to the Toposa. The society is organised into exogamous agnatic lineages. The most important social events that bring the Jiye together in celebrations include marriage, hunting, cattle raids, and warfare. The Jiye share certain totems and body marks. The male adults attend meetings, gatherings and functions in which important decisions concerning the clan or whole community are made. Respect for the elders among the Jiye is mandatory for the younger generations. The Jiye like the Toposa have no clear political organisation and functions. The chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders, fortune-tellers, medicine men, witch-doctors wield administrative and spiritual powers.
 
Culture & Religion
The Jiye culture is orally transmitted through songs, dance, music, poems and folklore. Being pastoralist, they have perfected their art of war and cattle raiding. They are able to spy and gather with precision information about the enemy, water, pastures, etc. The young men take great care and beauty of their hair and scarify their faces, bodies and have extensive piercing (nose, lips, and ears).

The Jiye do not have an elaborate religious belief. They, however, believe in the existence of a supreme being and the spirits of the departed ancestors. They pray and make sacrifices for these spirits as they communicate with them through a medium (fortune teller or medicine person) usually during times of serious disaster, for example, droughts, epizootics affecting their animals, etc.
 

Murle

Also known as Murele. Lotilla, or Ngalam.

Population & Ecosystem
300.000 Murle inhabit the vast plains and mountains in South Sudan’s Boma region. Large parts of Murle country are flood prone plains dissected by numerous perennial streams drained from the foothills of the Ethiopian highlands. The topography suddenly changes to the Boma Plateau as does the rainfall regime and vegetation. This environment has influenced the social and economic activities of the Murle.

Economy & Society
Murle are divided into two socio-economic groups the Plain Murle (Lotilla) and the Mountain Murle (Ngalam). The plain Murle are predominantly pastoral and their socio-economic activities centre round the herding of cattle. They practice subsistence agriculture; they also fish and hunt extensively. The Murle are extremely skilful in the arts of hunting and stalking game. In Boma where there is high rainfall the Murle practice agriculture cultivating maize, sorghum, simsim, tobacco and coffee.

Tradition claims that the tribe was created at a place called 'Jen', somewhere beyond Maji in Ethiopia. The Murle have a number of myths and songs about Jen.

The Murle society is primarily inclined to and interested in their present rather than the past. However, the respect for their traditions and customs is so great that many of these customs have the force of law, which can be taken also for custom.                                                                                                                      
The Murle social and cultural life is centred round their cattle. They breed them, marry with them, eat their meat, drink their blood and milk, and sleep on their hides. The Murle compose songs full of references to the herds captured in battle or raids from their neighbours. Raiding and stealing of cattle is a question of honour and valour. Every important social event is celebrated by the sacrifice of a bull in order to ensure the participation of the ancestral spirits as well as to provide food for the assembled guests and relatives. Kinship obligations are expressed in terms of cattle.

The Murle language has a considerable vocabulary of cattle terms. There are special words for every colour and colour combination; for cows and calves, bulls and oxen, at every stage of their growth; for different kinds of horns and for all the conformations to which their horns can be trained to grow. Every young man is given an ox by his father or uncle when he reaches man’s estate and spends hours singing to his special ox from which he takes his bull’s name.              The Murle stress the importance of the web of kinship ties. They are more interested in the links between living people than in their descent groups, clans, and lineages. Marriage relationship is considered most important, and the respect paid to parents-in-law is emphasized. When a young man wishes to marry, he looks to his father and his mother’s relatives to provide the marriage cattle. The bride price is transferred in a ceremony to the girl’s homestead. Once the bride’s parents are satisfied with the dowry she is then presented to the groom.

The dowry is divided among her relatives. The Murle speak of relatives as ‘people who have cattle between them’.

Among the Murle there is nothing special to mark initiation into adulthood for both boys and girls. However, boys of the same age could group and give themselves a group name which is then recognised.

The Murle consider death as a natural culmination of life. There is mourning for the dead and in the past, the body was not buried but left to the birds and wild animals. Only chiefs are buried in a ceremony.

The chiefly system, the age-set system, and the kinship-system are fundamental to the Murle social and political organisation.

The outstanding feature of the political system is the position of the Drum-chiefs (Red chiefs) at the head of the four drum-ships by virtue of their guardianship of the sacred drums, their spiritual powers are paramount. The formal pronouncements of Red-chiefs are treated with the greatest respect.

The relationship with their neighbours (Dinka, Nuer, and Kachipo) is by no means cordial due to their cattle raiding practices.

Culture & Religion
The Murle have evolved a culture centred round cattle and which is expressed in songs, poetry, folklore and dance. They adorn their bodies with all kinds of scars and drawings of different animals and birds while wearing different types of beads. Elderly Murle women still wear the traditional supra lip piercing made of bone or white plastic. Younger generations pierce their upper lip and place a plastic stick in the whole. Beautiful beaded crowns are worn by women during ceremonies.

The Murle are extremely conscious of the spirits. Nevertheless, they do not distinguish between the religious and secular aspects of life. They emphasise the immanence of God as well as the significance of Jen. Anything they cannot explain such as the rainbow, is considered to be ‘one of God’s things’. Every Murle family undertakes - every 5 to 6years - a pilgrimage to a sacred spot along River Nyandit to pay offerings to water spirits.
 

Kachipo

Also known as Kichepo and Suri.

Population & Ecosystem
30.000 Kachipo live in the Boma plateau of south-eastern Upper Nile bordering the Murle, the Jiye and the Anyuak. They extend into Ethiopia, where their tribal headquarters is at Koma. The Kachipo country is hilly with deep valleys. The climate is mild with heavy rainfall.

Economy & Society
The Kachipo are predominantly sedentary, agrarian community with the economy built on agriculture. The rich fertile soil results in a remarkable size and quantity of crops. Crops planted are millet, maize, cabbage, marrow, beans, yams, tobacco and coffee. They keep goats and sheep. They also hunt large game and collect honey during the dry season. They pan gold in the streams and make pots. They engage in trade with the Jiye, the Murle and the Ethiopian highlanders in tobacco and pots (Jiye and Murle), lion and leopard skins, giraffe tails, honey and ivory, rifles and ammunitions.

The Kachipo relate linguistically, culturally and in appearance to the Tirma (Surma) from Ethiopia. They however acknowledge no blood affinity with any other tribe in the area.

Marriage among the Kachipo is performed, like in many other groups, among people who have no blood relations. The bridegroom collects and pays dowry in form of gold dusts and nuggets, tobacco, goats and sheep. Divorce among the Kachipo is said to be difficult.

The Kachipo practice age-set system, which are fighting sets. Each of the fighting sets is held in considerable respect by those junior to it. If this is not shown, the offending set is severely beaten by their seniors. Initiation ceremonies are held at intervals of about 10 years. They are held on village basis but all ceremonies take place on one day. In each village a sheep is suffocated to death, and its dung is smeared on the bodies of the initiates.

The spiritual head of the Kachipo main clan and recognized as temporal head of the Kachipo, lives at Koma, Ethiopia. The clans have sub-chiefs whose realm is not administrative but spiritual. The clan chiefs are recognised through symbols or emblems namely an ivory horn, blown in times of sickness; a drum beaten to announce death; and a set of fire-sticks for producing fire on certain occasions e.g. beginning of the hunting season. The duties of the temporal chiefs consist of leading their villages in times of war and peace, judging cases, etc.

Culture & Religion
Scarification among Kachipo people is common but is not universal. It is performed according to taste, but is usually not extensive. The deliberate creation of keloids is not practised. Both sexes practise the boring and stretching of the ear-lobes. The result does not usually exceed three inches in length. The practice of piercing and stretching the lower lip was stopped by SPLA forces around 1984 when they reached Boma Plateau and who founded a ‘primitive practice’. Until that time the practice was universal amongst the women, and was performed at puberty or a little before or after. It was considered a sign of beauty, and the bride price payable is proportionately greater. The practice is said to have been learned from their Tirma (Surma) neighbours. Nowadays lip plates are only worn by elderly women and one can observe priced lips without plate among the women around forty-five years old.

The Kachipo dance is performed by separately by each sex, with the other forming a ring round the dancers. The men dance to the tune of the drums. The women on the other hand, dance to their own singing and the sound made by their hand slapping their skin ‘skirts’ with the palms of their hands. Donga (stick fighting) is practiced among Kachipo young men to show their bravery and as a way to perform in front of young marriageable girls.         
                                               
Regarding religion, the Kachipo believe in the existence of a supreme being – God. They also believe in the existence of spirits and undertake prayers and sacrifices to God and spirits either directly through a medium in times of personal and community calamity. The Kachipo have only one rainmaker, and the office is hereditary. Should his services be required, chips from a certain tree are masticated, and the resulting juice is mixed with clay and smeared over a man’s body. Rain may be expected to fall. The same effect may be obtained locally by dipping a stick of the same tree in water and throwing the latter upwards.
 

Tid

Also known as Teuso or Ik.

Population & Ecosystem
200 Tid can be found holed up on top of Natinga Mountain on the southern tip of the Didinga Hills on the borders with Kenya and Uganda. The environment the Tid inhabit is shrub covered rugged hills with adjoining dry plains and valleys. The areas receive fairly moderate rains.

Economy & Society
The Tid is a small community of gatherers. Gathering of honey and other wild forest products is the main economic activity of the Tid. The economic potentials are honey, gum arabica. The Tid speak a language similar to the Ik in Uganda. The Tid are isolated on top of the Natinga Mountain. They neighbour the Didinga, Toposa, Turkana and Dodoth. The lifestyle seldom brings the Tid into contact with and therefore relationship with their neighbours is limited. The Tid are completely isolated and their contact with the South Sudanese State is minimal. The first contact with outsiders was in the context of war which brought displaced people from other ethnic communities into New Kush (early 2000s). Some Tid have descended from Natinga Mountain and are being assimilated into Toposa families thus losing their culture.

Culture & Religion
Tid culture evolved and revolves round their principal mode of production – gathering and hunting. It is to be expected that their arts and literature, folklore and stories reflect the social practices of gathering honey, hunting game, etc.
 

Shilluk

Also known as Chollo.

Population & Ecosystem
500.000 Shilluk live on the west bank of River Nile between Lake No in the south and Kosti in the north. Shilluk country is flat lying plains that surround the River Nile. It has a moderate rainfall regime and its vegetation is made up of thick tall grass and few trees and shrubs.

Economy & Society
The Shilluk keep few cattle, goats and sheep; and engage in subsistence agriculture. The main crops are sorghum, maize, simsim, and beans.

The Shilluk are adroit fishermen and exploit with ease the fish resources of the Nile and its numerous tributaries and distributaries. Recent ecological changes in the Sudan have made the Shilluk kingdom an important producer of gum arabica. Petroleum is produced not very far from the Shilluk kingdom and there could be oil reserves below its sub-soil.

The Shilluk is a nation sensu stricto; a common territory, a common language, a central authority to which all citizens pay allegiance, have an elaborate system of customs and traditions which inform on the attitudes of the people, the exercise of power and all other social relations. The capital of the Shilluk kingdom is Pachodo. The Shilluk kingdom is divided in two principal political divisions: the north and the south. It is divided into 15 provinces each under the administration of a paramount chief directly responsible to the Rath (King), believed to be the incarnation of God and is sovereign combining political, administrative, judicial and spiritual power. The Shilluk system does not tolerate a prolonged power vacuum following the passing of the sovereign. He is the law and order and therefore must be immediately replaced. The process of installation of the new Rath begins immediately once the council of chiefs have met and decided on a choice.

The Shilluk ascribe to an elaborate traditional system, orally transmitted from generation to the next, in which each and every Shilluk clan, except the royals, has a defined role to play in the kingdom. They participate in the building and repairs of shrines; the installation of the Rath. Some Shilluk traditions and customs have lost their values or originality. Most archaic traditions have been dropped, while some have lingered on although are transforming under the pressure of modernity.

Despite war and social, economic and cultural changes the Shilluk nation is still strong around the Rath. Being one of the only kingdoms in South Sudan, together with Azande Kingdom (Southwest) and smaller ones in Lopit Mountains, Last Places promotes trips to Pacodo to meet the Shilluk King in its full regalia. The royal regalia include: throne, skin of Nile lechwe (type of antelope), giraffe mane, 2 silver bracelets, ostrich feathers, royal spears, royal stick, beads made from ostrich shells, and many others some of which remain in the special room. Rath Kwongo Dak Padiet is the reigning sovereign. He was installed as 34th Shilluk Rath in 1992. The Rath reigns for life from Pachodo - established in about 1690 as the kingdom’s headquarters and site for coronation of kings. However, the reigning sovereign is expected to found his own village; and comes to Pachodo only when major decisions affecting the kingdom have to be taken. There was only one woman Rath in Shilluk history – Abudhok nya Bwoch who reigned from Thworo village. She is said to have decreed that no woman should ever be installed Rath since women did not respect her court.

The location of the kingdom on the Nile has exposed the Shilluk to every danger that came with European and Arab incursions and aggression down the Nile: slavery and slave trade and the so-called modernity - Christianisation and Islamisation. Many have converted to Christianity (south) and Islam (north). Nevertheless, their allegiance remains with Pachodo. The war has displaced many Shilluk to north Sudan. This poses a serious threat to Shilluk traditions.

Culture & Religion
The Shilluk society has evolved a material and political culture expressed in the institutions of the kingdom and the daily life activities, notwithstanding its oral nature. The kingdom rests on an elaborate system of traditions and practices that go back more than 500 years.

The Shilluk are very particular about body cleanliness; the hair is constructed into two structures that give the impression of plates of hair on the head. They wear beads, and other decoration which include cutting dots on forehead and tattooing on the body. The Shilluk have developed music instruments: a kind of guitar, flute made from the horns of kudu, and drum.

The Shilluk control and defence of the Nile channel promoted the evolution of a navy that used dugout canoes. They imported iron from the Nuba Mountains and Funj Kingdom for making spears, axes, knives and hoes. The Shilluk have developed several and different types of dances to mark different occasions. Their folklore is rich with fairy tales for children, quizzes, riddles, etc. Neighbours and Foreign Relations and Cooperation The Räth has had a moderating influence on the Shilluk and the cordial relations and mutual respect they have evolved with their neighbours: Salem Arabs in the north, Nuba in the west, Nuer in the south and Dinka and Funj in the east.
Most Shilluk have converted to Christianity, while some still follow the traditional religion.

Traditionally, the Shilluk recognise the existence of two spheres: the sphere of the spirits interacting with that of the living beings. There is the Supreme Being with his home somewhere in the sky where people do not do evil. There are also the spirits of the departed ancestors and relatives, whom one can address in times of distress and tribulations. The Shilluk believe that the ghost of somebody killed or murdered haunts the perpetrator.
 

Nuer

Also known as Naath.

Population & Ecosystem
2 million Nuer live in the swamp areas of Upper Nile. The influence of the environment on the lifestyle of the Nuer is obvious.
 
Economy & Society
Nuer are sedentary (although individual families domicile in solitary settlements) are agro-pastoralists balancing subsistence agriculture with cattle herding – Nuer keep large herds, fishing and hunting. The main crops are sorghum, maize, and tobacco. Some Nuer clans practice yearly transhumance. The arid nature of their homeland in central Upper Nile dictates their dry season migration to the Sobat basin or to Zeraf basin precipitating feuds with Dinka groups. Western Nuer homeland is imbued with enormous deposits of petroleum. The discovery, development and exploitation of this natural resource is more of a curse to the Nuer than a blessing. It is the cause of immense humanitarian disruption and destruction unprecedented in Nuer history. Other natural resources potential include wildlife, fisheries and gum arabica.

Nuer is the second largest nationality in South Sudan after the Dinka. The Nuer are believed to have separated - at a certain stage in the past - from the Dinka.  It is believed that the Nuer rose as a separate people (from the Dinka) in Bull area at the beginning of the 18th century under circumstances that continue to inform today their mutual prejudices and relations with the Dinka. 
The myth, which has several variants, runs that both Nuer and Dinka were sons of the same man, who had promised that he would give the cow to Dinka and its young calf to Nuer. Dinka because of his cunning and intelligence deceived their father and took the calf instead of the cow therefore provoking Nuer’s perpetual contempt and disregard for the Dinka up to today.

The Nuer have cordial relations with the Shilluk from whom they have intermarried with. Nuer cherish independence and freedom including freedom to invade others and take over their property, which makes for uneasy and sometimes violent relations with Dinka. They abhor anything that insults their sense of homeland. Nuer political organisation and structure could be categorised as a confederation of independent and autonomous sections and clans. The political life of a village and the organisation of the cattle camps are in the hands of the elders of the dominant clan.

Culture & Religion
Nuer remove the 4 incisors and 4 lower canines as a sign of maturity for children of both sexes. However, initiation into adulthood which is usually cutting 5 to 6 parallel lines across the forehead is undertaken among boys of the same age, which like in other Nilotic groups form them into an age set.

Nuer arts, music and literature like in most unwritten culture are orally transmitted over generations in songs, stories and folktales. The Nuer are rich is songs, dances and folktales. Of the most important handcraft the Nuer have developed is the dieny (basket for carrying everything including children when on a long journey). Nuer cultural initiatives that have now become Sudanese national cultural heritage is the Mound of Ngundeng (adobe shrine pyramid style erected by a prophet) in Lou.

The Nuer believe in Kuoth (God) the creator but like others, believers in the traditional systems of beliefs have not systematised these beliefs. The Nuer prophets arose and left their mark on the Nuer nation. Ngundeng, who rose in Lou, remains the most revered. Younger and less important prophets have arose with the last one who left an impact being Wud Nyang (1991-1993).

Modernity, monetary economy, war, discovery of oil have had profound impact on the Nuer traditional ways. Increased violence has resulted in massive displacements and movements of people that out of necessity have resulted in some positive change in attitudes and perceptions.
 

Bongo

Also known as Ge Bongo.

Population & Ecosystem
2.000 Bongo live in the southern borders of ironstone plateau and swamps of Bahr el Ghazal, an environment that has greatly influenced the social and economic life of the Bongo.

Economy & Society
The economy is predominantly subsistence agriculture mixed with keeping of domestic animals, iron smelting and production of iron-ware. They also engage in fishing and hunting.

The Bongo population had diminished in the 19th century to the point of near extinction as a result of Azande raids and Arab slavers. The Bongo have no concept of a state. The chief is the highest political/administrative office of the Bongo. Each village simply had its chief, who on the virtue of superior wealth, exercised a certain authority over the rest of the inhabitants, and in some cases, had an additional prestige from his skill in the art of magic.

Culture & Religion
Bongo culture and social values are expressed in their songs, poetry, physical arts and dance and folklore which are largely oral. The Bongo make the best tomb totems from hard wood. Most of these totems have been sold to art dealers and today it is rare to find totems in Bongo cemeteries. Some examples of these beautiful carved totems can be found in Sudan Ethnographic Museum in Khartoum. The Bongo were also advanced in the smelting of iron derived from the abundant lateritic soil. The iron products: axes, spears, hoes are traded with the neighbouring communities. The interaction with the modern forces has led to the destruction of this indigenous knowledge system.

The Bongo are skilful wood carvers, a craft that endures to the present. They also give much attention to basketwork, strainers to filter beer, baskets for carrying things, basket-pots for fishing, basket-work walls of huts and bee-hives. The other crafts the Bongo manufacture are fish-nets, creels and snares, fishing-lines made from vegetable fibres.

The Bongo are superstitious, practicing all kinds of witchcraft, sorcery and magic.

The Bongo, as a people, are almost on the verge of extinction due to war displacement and rural migration of the youth. The remnants of this tribe are not in a position to regenerate the Bongo society as it was before the slave trade. However, the few Bongo found in Tonj and Wau practice some of their social values and traditions.
 

Azande

Also known as Zande.

Population & Ecosystem
The Azande land is tropical rain forest that enjoys high annual rainfall. This has rendered it a very high agricultural potential area.

Economy & Society
The Azande are agrarian as a dictate of the physical environment. They engage in subsistence production of food crops mainly maize, cassava, telebun, yams, and fruits: mangoes, citrus, pineapples, palm trees, coffee, etc. They also have exotic and economically important hard wood trees such as mahogany, teak, Cinderella are found in Zande land. The Azande engage in hunting and fishing as part of their economic activities.

In 1948 The Equatoria Project Board was established to exploit the huge economic potential of the Zande land. The Nzara agro-industrial complex was founded to gin and weave cloth, produce edible oil, soap and other produce from the cotton the Azande people were encourage to grow as a cash crop. This project helped monetise and link the Azande economy to other markets in South Sudan.

The Azande society is divided into royal clans. Azande settlements are solitary i.e. a household consisting of the man and his wife (or wives), nevertheless they ascribes to certain social norms and practices.

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 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 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 & Religion
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 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. 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.

Regarding beliefs and religion, 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.
 

Nyangatom

Also known as Bume.

In the course of their early migration from Uganda, the pastoral ancestors of the Nyangatom had been scorned as ''Elephant-eaters'' (Nyam-etom), a nickname which they aptly transformed into ''Yellow Guns'' (Nyang-atom), that underlined the martial intentions of their emerging community. The Nyangatom are linguistically and ethnically closely related to the Toposa. A century ago, both tribes were known as ''Hum'' or ''Kum''. A name that still survives is '' Bume'' - the Ethiopian name of the Nyangatom.

Population & Ecosystem
6.000 Nyangatom live between Mount Naita, near the Ethiopian border, and Ilemi Triangle. On the Omo River banks (Ethiopia) we find 11.000 Nyangatom, therefore the tribe is traditionally considered more Ethiopian than South Sudanese. In the Toposa villages north of Kapoeta, especially among the Peymong section, one meets well established Nyangatom families with zebu cattle, sheep and goats, donkeys, wives and children.The Nyangatom territory is dry and rocky and the climate of the whole area is hot with low rainfall.

Economy & Society
The Nyangatom are semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists. They live on sorghum, maize, soya beans and tobacco cultivation, but their cultural preference is zebu cattle and small stock raising. They also keep donkeys for their migrations between Ethiopia and South Sudan. If the Nyangatom and the Toposa are allies, both groups face common, permanent or potential, enemies. While on transhumance in the Ilemi Triangle, the Nyangatom fear, on their southern flank, Turkana raids, while to their north they consider the Kachipo and Surma as irreducible foes. Since the 1990's the Nyangatom, armed with automatic guns, managed to push the Surma far away to the north. It is in this movement that they established, together with the Toposa, an important pastoral and military settlement on the foot of Mount Naita, on traditional Surma territory on and around the Ethio-South Sudanese border. The Nyangatom share with other peoples of the Karimojong cluster the main features of their social organization. They are divided into patrilineal descent clans.

The main originality of Nyangatom society is a generation-set system which, embracing men and women alike, allowed the Nyangatom to separate from their parent stock and to become an autonomous polity.

Each generation is given a social identity through the name of an Aristotelician species. Thus, Nyangatom ethno-history is recording the founders, their sons the wild dogs, then the zebras, the tortoises, the mountains (extinct generations), then the elephants, the ostriches, the antelopes, the buffaloes (living generations).

For their political and economic integration, they balance between two options : the Ethiopian, with the regional community of the Southern Nations, ‘Nationalities and Peoples’, around the town of Jinka; and the South Sudanese, with the membership, which they share with the Toposa, of the Mount Naita community. Not surprisingly, as many other people living on border areas, the Nyangatom try to take advantage of their ambiguous, and too often uncomfortable, situation.

Culture & Religion
The Nyangatom are famous for their oratory gifts and their cattle songs are learned by neighbours of other language families. Reciprocally, the Nyangatom appreciate and acquire pots from Surma and Karo women in Ethiopia because their own wives have not mastered the skill of pottery. 
 

Turkana

Also known as Turkan or NiTurkana.

Population & Ecosystem
100.000 live in the vast dry plain of Ileni Triangle in South Sudan. The Turkana rely on several rivers. When these rivers flood, new sediment and water extend onto the river plain that is cultivated after heavy rainstorms, which occur infrequently. When the rivers dry up, open-pit wells are dug in the riverbed; these are used for providing water to the livestock and also for human consumption. There are few, if any, developed wells for community and livestock drinking water, and often families must travel several hours searching for water for their livestock and themselves.

Economy & Society
They are mainly semi-nomadic pastoralists. The Turkana are noted for raising camels and weaving baskets. Livestock is an important aspect of Turkana culture. Goats, camels, donkeys and zebu are the primary herd stock utilized by the Turkana people. In this society, livestock functions not only as a milk and meat producer, but as form of currency used for bride-price negotiations and dowries. Often, a young man will be given a single goat with which to start a herd, and he will accumulate more via animal husbandry. In turn, once he has accumulated sufficient livestock, these animals will be used to negotiate for wives.

In their oral traditions, they designate themselves the people of the grey bull, after the Zebu, the domestication of which played an important role in their history.

Culture & Religion
The Turkana people have elaborate clothing and adornment styles. Clothing is used to distinguish between age groups, development stages, occasions and status of individuals or groups in the Turkana community. Traditionally, both men and women wear wraps made of rectangular woven materials and animal skins. Today, these cloths are normally purchased, having been manufactured in Kenya. Often, men wear their wraps similar to tunics, with one end connected with the other end over the right shoulder, and carry wrist knives made of steel and goat hide. Men also carry stools and will use these for simple chairs rather than sitting on the hot midday sand. These stools also double as headrests, keeping one's head elevated from the sand, and protecting any ceremonial head decorations from being damaged. It is also not uncommon for men to carry several staves; one is used for walking and balance when carrying loads; the other, usually slimmer and longer, is used to prod livestock during herding activities. Women will customarily wear necklaces, and will shave their hair completely which often has beads attached to the loose ends of hair. Men wear their hair shaved. Women wear two pieces of cloth, one being wrapped around the waist while the other covers the top. Traditionally leather wraps covered with ostrich egg shell beads were the norm for women's undergarments, though these are now uncommon in many areas.

A clear boundary is not drawn between the sacred and the profane in Turkana society. In this regard, Turkana traditional religion is undifferentiated from Turkana social structure or epistemological reality—the religion and the culture are one. The Turkana are pastoralists whose lives are shaped by the extreme climate in which they live. Each day, one must seek to find the blessings of life—water, food, livestock, wives, children—in a manner that appeases the ancestral spirits and is in harmony with the peace within the community. Properly following the traditions in daily life will certainly lead to blessing. Blessings are understood to be an increase in wealth, whether livestock, children, wives or even food. It is only through proper relationships with God and the ancestors, proper protection from evil, and participation in the moral economy of the community that one can be blessed.

Essentially, Turkana believe in the reality of a Supreme Being named Akuj. Not much is known about Akuj other than the fact that he alone created the world and is in control of the blessings of life. There is also a belief in the existence of ancestors, yet these are seen to be malevolent, requiring animal sacrifices to be appeased when angry. When angered or troubled, the ancestors will possess people in the family in order to verbally communicate with their family. There is also the recognition of The Ancestor, Ekipe, who is seen as much more active in the everyday lives of people, yet only in negative ways. There is much concern over protecting one’s family and oneself from the evil of the Ekipe. Turkana Christians and missionaries equate Ekipe with the biblical character of Devil or Satan and this has shifted more traditional understandings of Ekipe. Turkana religious specialists, continue to act as intermediaries between living people and ancestors and also help in problem solving in communities.

Vernacular architecture of South Sudan
South Sudan hosts some of Africa’s best examples of vernacular architecture. Tribal vernacular architecture, as opposed to the rest of the African Continent, is still thriving in South Sudan. This is due to the fact that most tribes still live far away from the globalizing currents and economic changes that have affected most Africa societies. Vernacular architecture is commonly recognized as the fundamental expression of the world’s cultural diversity. The desire for modernization and the well-known globalization phenomenon are some of the most frequent evoked issues responsible for endangering the survival of vernacular heritage in Africa. In Last Places we aim to highlight the outstanding universal value of vernacular architectural heritage in South Sudan and to raise awareness to the increasing need, not only the protection of these structures’ integrity but also for the preservation of such ancient and sustainable building techniques as a living heritage.

Beaded Corsets of South Sudan
One of South Sudan’s most unique and spectacular forms of art is the making of beaded corsets. Dinka and Mundari women still make them to decorate the bodies of both men and women during special occasions.

Dinka and Mundari corsets are made up of thousands of tiny glass beads in various colours and are usually supported by strong wires at the spin. Beadwork is an expression of the creativity and is an important part of adornment traditions of the Dinka and Mundari. The corsets are used as symbol of wealth and social status, therefore an indicator of gender, age, wealth, and ethnic affiliations. The colours of the beads indicate the age of the wearer; young Dinka between 15-25 years-old will wear a corset made of red and black beads. The use of pink and purple are appropriated to a man between 25-30 years old while yellow beads are worn by wearers of over 30 years old. The combination of colours including blue, green, white, black, and red is frequently used. This composition may appear purely aesthetic. Until 1984, when beaded corsets where forbidden by Khartoum government (they considered them to be sinful), corsets were used on a daily basis by both men and women. Women’ corsets Alual are different from those worn by men and often decorated with cowry shells. They are of a looser, bodice style and when worn, women’ corsets appear ample and hang from the neck like a large necklace. In some rare cases, young girls will wear a tight corset with an important projection in the back such as those of the men. This corset will remain on her and will be cut open only at her wedding. Corsets for men Malual are worn tight and are characterized by a high projection on the back usually seen as indicator of the wealth of the wearer’s family. Dinka young warrior would keep his corset on him and will change it only when he reaches another group age. Last Places is promoting the revival of corsets as a beautiful and unique work of art and part of Mundari and Dinka identity.

Artisan products of South Sudan
Most tribes in South Sudan are semi-nomadic pastoralists. This means they cannot carry heavy items on their transhumance trips. Their art production is related to decorative (the body) and functional objects such as:
-Lip and ear piercings
-ivory and metal bracelets and rings
-beaded (glass, ceramic, and plastic) necklaces and corsets
-wooden headrests
-skin and wooden shields
-spears and knives
-hats and helmets used for dance
-smoking pipes made of metal or clay
-loincloth made of animal skin decorated with bead and cowry shells
-decorated calabashes
-animal figures made of clay
-play dolls
-drums, flutes, horns and many other different musical instruments
-religious figures and totems
 

Cities of South Sudan

Juba City
Juba is South Sudan’s capital and one of Africa’s fastest growing cities. The money injected by the World Bank, the IMF and petrol-related activities have transformed Juba’s skyline. The story of Juba starts in 1874 when the newly appointed Governor of Equatoria, famous British explorer Charles Gordon, moved the army garrison to Rejaf (15km south of Juba’s airport), due to local tribes taking the Gondokoro Garrison's cattle and the soldier's bouts of Malaria. The development of the city came in 1922 when a group of Greek traders actually settled there. Buildings of that period can still be seen in Hai Jallaba ‘the Arab district´ in local language. We would start the historic walk in Jubek State’s Directorate of Forestry, near Jit Supermarket (owned by an Indian family). In this compound we find interesting 1920s brick buildings from the British period and the last remaining stilt wooden house, similar to the one Charles Gordon lived with his wife in Gondokoro Island. From the Jubek State’s Directorate of Forestry compound we walk to the Plant Nursery, with interesting examples of imported trees brought by the British to habituate to the harsh Equatoria climate. The Plant Nursery is an authentic oasis in the middle of Juba. Near this old garden we find an old but still active port that links Juba with the rest of the country. The area is called Hai Gabat and it is the original site of the Bari (local tribe) village Gordon encountered in 1874. The area still preserves a mystic importance for the local Bari people where they worship a set of stones known as Pita Stones. In front of this port you find historical Gondokoro Island where you hardly find any evidence of the Turkish and Anglo-Egyptian adobe forts. We leave the White Nile shores and continue to Juba’s oldest and still active Al Atiq mosque, built in 1939. Around the mosque we find interesting examples of Greek-style architecture. Ghines’ family house and the old Casino, now a commercial bank with its original structure hidden behind a recently added cladding. George Ghines, descendant of the pioneer Greek families owns Notos Restaurant in an old colonial finely restored warehouse. After having lunch at Notos we end up Juba historic walk in Hai Malakia quarter, where the city expanded after 1930 and todays Juba oldest commercial area, with an interesting mixture of peoples from all around the world. In Hai Malakia we find a nice Turkish restaurant, Istambul, where one can enjoy one of the best mutabal (aubergine / eggplant cream) one can ever taste and an excellent warm lentil-ginger soup. We also find Konyo Konyo market, the busiest and biggest in Juba with many scarified Mundari meat sellers wearing ivory bracelets. We will wrap up the day having dinner at Da Vinci’s restaurant on the banks of the White Nile with privileged views over Juba Nile metal bridge.

Kapoeta Town
 Capital of Kapoeta State and main commercial centre in south-eastern South Sudan. During the rains (April-October) Singaita River, at the town’s main entrance, can isolate Kapoeta from the rest of the country. The post at Kapoeta was established by British Captain Knollys, who reached the river in 1927.

The main road from Lokichogio, Kenya to the capital city of Juba, South Sudan, runs through Kapoeta. The town is also served by Kapoeta Airport, which is little more than a dirt strip. 10.000 people live in the city, mainly of the Toposa tribe and Kenyan and Ugandan merchants. Kapoeta is the ideal base to explore the tribal areas in the region.

Last Places team is conscious of the great potential of nature tourism in South Sudan. From the very moment we decided to open an office in Juba we knew that besides tribal diversity the rich network of National Parks would be one of the demands for travellers. Since 2012 we have explored in depth several parks, probably the easiest ones to visit: Nimule, near the Uganda border where it is possible to navigate with motor canoes the White Nile and spot some elephants, Boma National Park, the largest one in the country, bordering Ethiopia where Africa’s second largest ungulate migration takes place and Imatong Forest Reserve on the way to crown Mount Kinyeti (3.187 meters), South Sudan’s highest peak. Here we saw some blue monkeys and many birds… The rest of the parks are there to be explored and see what is left after 50 years of Civil War. Most of them have almost no infrastructure and in a way is what makes them more attractive for a certain type of adventurous nature passionate. Last Places is able to organise visits all around South Sudan including the Sudd, Africa’s largest wetland and one of the World’s most virgin regions.

Boma National Park
Boma National Park is South Sudan’s largest protected area after the Sudd wetland (not considered a National Park to this day). It encompasses a vast area of 22.800 km2 in eastern South Sudan, connecting with Ethiopia’s Gambella National Park. The landscape of this park features floodplains and grasslands. In South Sudan, as in the Serengeti, the migration takes place all year, it is a slow movement dependant on the grass and the rains. In March/April/May/June the animals are moving from North to South and West to East, from the Sudd flood plains and Bandingilo National Park, back into Boma National Park and Gambela Park in Ethiopia, because the rains will have started. In November/December/January the animals are moving from South to North and East to West as the dry season is well under way and the animals are searching for grass. In November/December/January the white-eared kob will be calving as they migrate north into the Sudd flood plain and west into Bandigalo National Park. The major migrating species involved are: white-eared Kob antelope, Tiang Antelope,and Mongalla Gazelle. Prior to the the war with the north there were huge herds of Zebra, these animals were considerable reduced in number. A 2008 survey estimated that there were 6,850 Elephants in the park and surrounding area adjacent to the park. The Elephants and Zebra also migrate with the water and grass. Large mammals like the elephant, leopard, buffalo, Nubian giraffe, Sudan cheetah, Grant's gazelle, white-eared kob, and East African lion inhabit the national park. Some of the most notable birds of the park include the black-chested snake eagle and the Ruppell's vulture. Boma National Park has the greatest concentration of wildlife in the country, but unfortunately the wildlife is threatened by hunting for bushmeat and commercial purposes.
 
Bandingilo National Park
Bandingilo National Park is located in South Sudan’s Equatoria region near the White Nile River. The park was established in 1992 and has an area of 10.000 km2. The park is famous for one of the most spectacular natural phenomena of the world: the second largest migration of multiple antelope species. Some of the antelope species involved in this migration are the tiang, reedbuck, white-eared kob. In the start of the wet season April, May, the herds are migrating into Bandingilo National Park from Boma National Park, stay in the park June, July August and then start to migrate out in September and October. The major animals that migrate in and out of the park, are white-eared kob antelope, Tiang antelope, Mongalla gazelle and Elephant. The animals congregate in this park during the European Summer vacation time, making it an excellent time to see wildlife in South Sudan.
 
Sudd Wetland
The Sudd wetland, with an estimated area of approximately 57.000 km2 represents the largest freshwater ecosystem in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

The extent of the Sudd wetlands is highly variable; it depends largely on the seasons and years respectively. In the wet season the size of the wetland increases up to 90.000 km² and gradually decreases to about 42.000 km² depending on high seasonal flood. It is sustained by the flow of the White Nile (or Bahr el Jebel) from Lake Victoria in Uganda, in addition to rainfall runoff from its surrounding areas.

The Sudd is internationally recognised for its unique ecological attributes that include various endangered mammalian species, antelope migrations, millions of Palaearctic migratory birds and large fish populations. Notable wildlife species include the African elephants, Nile lechwe endemic to South Sudan, tiang migration, white-eared kob migration, buffalo, and bird species include the shoebill. The Sudd is an important wintering ground for some of the migratory birds such as the Great White Pelican, Black Crowned Crane, White Stork and Black Tern.It forms part of the East-Asian/East African flyway of Palearctic birds, linking breeding ranges in central-Europe and Asia with winter ranges to the south. A large number of inter-African bird migrants also rely on the Sudd and surrounding habitats as a dry season refuge.

The Sudd has rich and abundant fish populations, a response to the favourable environmental conditions for recruitment and survival offered by its mosaic of habitat types. Key aquatic habitats range from open water and riverine to lacustrine and palustrine, which offer ideal spawning, rearing, growing, feeding and survival grounds for over a hundred species of fish. These habitats are largely intact and largely unaffected by industrial development and include; 31 Siluroids, 16 Characoids, 14 Cyprinoids, 11 Momyrids, 8 Cichlids, and 7 Cyprinodonotids of fish communities. There are also eight endemic Nile dwarf fish species found in the Sudd wetland, which are Cromeria nilotica, Nannaethiops unitaeniatus, Barbus stigmatopygus, Chelaethiops bibie, Andersonia leptura, Aplocheilichthys loati, Epiplatys marnoi and Electris nanus.
 
The culture and society of the approximately 1 million people inhabiting the Sudd wetland region are closely linked to its ecological functioning. The dominant cultural affiliations in the Sudd are the tribes of Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk,  and Anyuak all of which are Nilotic and pastoralists peoples indigenous to the Nile Valley. These groups have developed traditions that have allowed them to adapt to the inundated and seasonally variable conditions across the Sudd through a combination of nomadic agro-pastoralism, non-timber forest product collection and fishing. Specific practices include the seasonal construction of settlements on small islands in flooded areas, and traditional hunting and fishing techniques. The hydrological functions and patterns of the Sudd maintain the livelihoods and cultural practices of the Sudd’s tribes.  The cultural groups living within the Sudd region also maintain beliefs and practices that serve to support and conserve the environment they live in. For example, the cultural beliefs of the Shilluk community living within the Sudd region are an important aspect in the preservation of the Nile lechwe (antelope species endemic to South Sudan) as they consider killing of the animal species as taboo, and this of course helps in their conservation and sustainable use. It is therefore valuable to support many of the cultural practices of the communities living in the Sudd as these are closely intertwined with the natural elements and preserving them also creates and maintains an awareness of past and traditional knowledge in the general public.

Across the Sudd region, overexploitation of wildlife and habitat fragmentation are notable threats, including commercial poaching linked to small-arms availability, inadequate planning for returning displaced peoples, competition for scarce natural resources (e.g. pasture and water), road building without sufficient environmental planning, and the expansion of the oil industry into ecologically sensitive areas (the Sudd contains South Sudan's largest oil reserves), which result in habitat degradation from infrastructure and pollution, as well as increased hunting and trafficking activity. The Jonglei Canal Project that began in 1978 presented a significant threat to the social, ecological and hydrological functioning of the Sudd. A large channel was cut between Malakal southwest towards Bor, with the onset of the 1983 Sudan civil war construction of the canal was cancelled. Today a partially inundated channel remains, however, it had no documented negative impact on the Sudd wetland ecosystem.
 
Mount Kinyeti
The highest peak in all of South Sudan is called Mount Kinyeti at 3.187 meters and it is located within Imatong Forest Reserve that covers 1.032 km2 of lowland tropical forest. Rainfall in the reserve is the highest in all of South Sudan measuring 2.261 mm annually. Animals listed in the reserve are; Bushbuck, Blue Duiker, Colobus Monkey, Blue Monkey, Leopard, and Hyena. It is estimated that over 500 species of bird use the forest, many migrating between Europe and Kenya. The endangered Spotted Ground Thrush is found in the reserve.
 
Kidepo Game Reserve
The Kidepo Game Reserve is located in the southernmost depths of South Sudan. Contiguous with the famous Kidepo National Park in Uganda across the border, it’s a sea of greenery that extends for more than 1.200 km2 across the savannah grasslands and gallery woods of the region.
 
Lantoto National Park
Lantoto National Park is located on South Sudan’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, connected to de la Garamba National Park. The park encompasses an area of 760 km2, which is covered by open glades and dense forests. These tropical forests are home to Africa's smallest and most endangered elephants. Wild forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) have been scientifically documented for the first time (2017) in South Sudan researchers from Bucknell University and Fauna & Flora International. The researchers spotted the critically endangered pachyderms, which are smaller than their more famous savannah cousins, using camera traps set up in South Sudan's Western Equatoria state, a region of densely forested hills near the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

The elephants weren't the only surprise. A total of 37 species appeared in the images, including four more species never before documented in South Sudan: an elusive African golden cat, a water chevrotain (sort of like a tiny deer), red river hogs and a giant pangolin. The cameras also picked up previously known South Sudanese species, such as chimpanzees, leopards, forest buffalo, bongo antelope and honey badgers. Such a cornucopia is the product of Western Equatoria's unique position in South Sudan, where the Congo Basin meets the flat savannahs of the Horn of Africa.

Nimule National Park 
South Sudan's Nimule National Park is the easiest park to visit in South Sudan, due to its infrastructure and proximity to Juba.  The 410 km2   park is crossed by the White Nile. The park has a small population of elephants.
 
Shambe National Park 
Shambe National Park was founded in 1985 and covers an area of 620 km2. It is located on the western banks of the White Nile River in the remote area of Adior. The park used to be rich in wildlife which included hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, lions, ostriches, giraffes, and monkeys. After 50 years of Civil War most species have disappeared. A survey, as in most parks in South Sudan is needed. Shambe National Park has a big potential as bird watching destination for its hundreds of resident and migratory bird species.
 
Southern National Park
Southern National Park occupies an area of 23.000 km2. Three rivers drain the park. The park hosts a variety of habitats like gallery forests, rainforests, bushveld, and grasslands. Several species of fish, like the catfish, lung fish, and tilapia are found in the park's rivers. Crocodiles can be also be found in the park's waters. The mammalian fauna of Southern National Park features the colobus monkey, Congo lion, Kordofan giraffe, African buffalo, giant eland, and kob.

South Sudan Visa
A valid passport and a visa are required for travel to South Sudan. Applications for visas can be made in advance in the travelers’ home country or in the nearest South Sudan Embassy: London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Rome, Oslo, Geneva, Moscow, Washington, New York, Tel Aviv, Ankara, Beijing, New Delhi, and Pretoria. There is also the possibility of obtaining the Visa upon arrival.  Last Places assists all travelers that need any type of help applying for the visa upon arrival or at the embassy. We recommend that passports be valid for six months from date of arrival.


Vaccines and Travel Health in South Sudan
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is essential for entry to South Sudan. Malaria is prevalent in the country. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxis when travelling through South Sudan. Water supply is unsafe to drink, visitors should drink bottle water. Visitors should also avoid eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetables. The milk in South Sudan is unpasteurized and should be boiled; alternatively use tinned milk reconstituted with bottle water.


Security in South Sudan
Last Places opened an office in Juba, South Sudan, in 2015 during the conflict between Dinka and Nuer tribes. The area affected by this civil conflict was near the Sudan border, far from the areas we visit. A Peace Agreement has been signed in May 2019 between the Dinka and the Nuer, we hope it lasts long but are also conscious that this part of Africa has never seen complete calmness. We spoke before in this site about the history of what was known as Equatoria, a tribal land where cattle pastoralist tribes have an essential feuding culture. Cattle, water, grazing lands, honour, and tribal affiliation…mixed with petrol and Globalization make almost impossible the state of complete peace. The essence of South Sudan is precisely its ethnographic reality. In Last Places we visit tribal people we have been working with for the last 7 years, that we support (water, food, and cultural revival projects) and that we know they are in conflict with other groups. It also happens in Southern Ethiopia’s touristic Omo Valley, in tourist areas of Northern Uganda and Kenya... it is a social, political, cultural and economic reality of Africa’s pastoralist societies. Said all this, Last Places is permanently monitoring the socio-political situation of this nation we are passionate for and we avoid any risks when we organise the trips with clients all around the country. Having an office in Juba and knowing many people in the country facilitates this monitoring and having first hand objective information.


When to go to South Sudan
Travelers can visit South Sudan all year around. Last Places offers trips to South Sudan all year around. Said this, dry season –from mid-November to mid-April - allows the traveller visit all tribal areas while whet season – from June to October- may limit the visit to certain remote regions such as Boma Plateau.


Currency in South Sudan
The unit of currency is the South Sudanese Pound. Visitors should bring enough cash for their needs. Money can be exchanged at currency exchange houses. Newly issued (2013 onwards) 100 note US dollars are changed without any problem. Other than this will be a problem or you will get worse change. Credit cards are only accepted in larger hotels, and cash withdrawals are not possible.



Time in South Sudan
GMT +1




Electricity in South Sudan
In South Sudan the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in South Sudan, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa).


Communications in South Sudan
The international dialing code for South Sudan is +211. There are many more mobile telephones than fixed lines and the mobile coverage around Juba and other main centers is much more reliable than fixed lines. Internet access is available at most major hotels in Juba. Also in Mango Camp, Kapoeta (2019).


Language in South Sudan
The official languages of South Sudan are Arabic (known as Juba Arabic) and English. About 60 other African languages are spoken.



Prohibitions in South Sudan
Do not take photographs of government buildings, or use binoculars near them, as this could lead to arrest.



South Sudan is a secular country, however it is a conservative country in many ways. It is recommend for both women and men to wear long trousers. For women it is recommended to wear long sleeved shirts.

SET DEPARTURES TO South Sudan Sudán del Sur

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