kuku and Hebrew culture

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Professor M.M.Ninan

The University of Juba, Juba, The Sudan.


with added notes from later researchers









“From beyond the rivers of Cush,

My worshippers,

My scattered people,

will bring Me offerings.”

Zephaniah 3:10



This is an academic study of missiological interest. The research was done in 1986 in the Sudan

Theological College, while I was the Professor of Physics in the University of Juba, Juba, Sudan. The

original scripts are deposited in the Sudan Collection of the University of Juba and with the Sudan

Theological College. Due to the civil war the University is now relocated in Khartoum. Those who helped me

in this research whose names are in the list at the end, now serve the war torn South Sudan and

neighboring countries, as pastors of the Sudan Pentecostal Churches and Assemblies of God Churches.

The living conditions in these parts are unimaginable to the civilized world and they need your support and




As I came across the old publication, I thought of putting it in the form of a booklet for greater exposure in

the hope it will encourage additional research in the area of culture of the new Nation of the South Sudan. I

had been involved in the development of the Christian ethos of that country being close with Anglican

Church, and the Pentecostal Churches. I was part of the early Pentecostal revival and in the formation of

the Sudan Pentecostal Churches and the Sudan Theological College. I have taught in the Sudan

Theological College for six years. Many of my students in the theological college have become leaders of

the Churches and many of my students in the Juba University have become leaders of the nation. As such

I have developed a oneness with the people of South Sudan. They are my people whom the God of the

Heavens have entrusted with me as a watchman and a teacher.

The question that haunts me now is whether this destroying war in the new nation of South Sudan Nation

a continuation of the traditional tribal culture which can be overcome by gospel message of love which we

have been trying to inculcate through these years. Even in those days, the problem I have faced was

whether a war for freedom is justifiable? Now that we have the freedom, the consequence of taking the

sword is following us. "Over two million people have died as a result of the war and related causes, such

as war-induced famine. About five million people have been displaced, while half a million more have fled

across an international border. Tens of thousands of women and children have been abducted and

subjected to slavery. By all accounts, it appears to be the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today."

Will the prayers and faith bring reconciliation and healing?

I have added interesting observations and papers from scholars and reporters which I believe is relevant to

the subject area.


San Jose, CA




1. Introduction 1

2. The concept of God. 2

3. How Communion with Heaven was Cut. 6

4. Sin and Death. 10

5. The Ancestoral Cult. 13

6. Spirits of Rivers. 16

7. Spirits of the mountains. 21

8. Spirit Possession. 23

9. Totems of the Tribe. 25

10. Sacrifices 25

11. Protecting God. 27

12. Lopede came but they rejected him. 29

13. Chief Yengi. 30

14. The Rain Maker. 31

15. The Spirit Doctors. 34

16. Blessing and Consecration. 36

17. Temejik and the Paranet. 36

18. Marriage. 37

19. Punishment among the Kukus. 40

20. War 41

21.The Problem. 41

21. Acknowledgments. 46

Who Are the Kuku People? Dr. Scopas S. Poggo 47



Jewish Roots of Sudan : William Levi Ochan Ajjugo 68

The Bible and Sudan: William O’Levi . 69

Sudan in the Scriptures 73

Legacy of Ngundeng: Ruach Wal Yat 78

Kuku, Bari in South Sudan 81

Kuku 85

Israeli -South Sudan Relation 89

South Sudanese Christians plan "prophesied" pilgrimage to Israel 93


In this paper traditional culture, beliefs and religious practices of the Kuku tribes of the

South Sudan are compared with the Hebrew culture. It is shown that there is almost

identical pattern even to minute details. Even in the way of corruption they are similar. It

is suggested that a historical common contact theory or information exchange theory

could not possibly explain such close similarity. We are thus led to the only alternative

of common source, i.e. God did reveal himself to Kukus in a way similar to the Hebrews

through a special revelation. Can this be true? We examine such a possibility based on

the biblical prophecy.





1. Introduction

The Southern Sudanese African Culture is decaying fast. Most of the tribal cultures are

not known to the new generation and has never been collected or written down. If this is

not done in the immediate future, it is most likely that we will loose these for ever. In 1983

when I came into the University of Juba my interest was to know what are the traditional

religious beliefs and practices of the tribes around this region. A survey of existing

literature showed a lack of understanding of the African mind. Most of them were written

from the point of view of western materialism or from. the point of view of early

missionaries who considered the African religions as totally pagan. A perusal of the

literature in this field includes such great anthropologists as Lienhardt G (Divinity and

Experience: The Religion of the Dinka, Oxford, 1961),Seligman C.G (Pagan Tribes of the

Nilotic Sudan, London, 1932), Frances Madtrig Dang (The Africans of the Two Worlds

Yale, 1978) and Evens Pritchard E.E (The Nuer Religion, Oxford 1956) All of them

indicated similarities between Hebrew culture and Southern Sudanese culture. But their





subject matter were along different lines and no one the comparative study. Recently

Lazarus Leek Mawut (Proc. of Conf. on the Role of Southern Sudanese, Khartoum, 1985)

attempted a study of comparison from data available from the various literature. But the

data was very meager and the conclusions so arrived were not conclusive or compelling.

Since I felt the need of more direct information, I have made an attempt to collect data

directly from the field, from the elders of the various tribes with the help of a group of

dedicated young people from the Sudan Theological College. Fifteen of these people

went out and gathered a lot of information from the various tribes. In this paper I am

dealing only with the Kuku tribe which I believe is representative of the agricultural tribes

of this area and the Bari speaking tribes in this area. The purpose of this paper is to

compare the cultures of the Kuku and the Hebrew. The results are startling and the

conclusions even more.

2. The concept of God.

• There is only one God and he lives Somewhere.

• This God is a good God, who do not want people to sin.

• He is very powerful and is everywhere.

• He is very wise.

• He is good to the people as long as they are good.

• But if the people went in evil ways God punished them.

• No one can hide their sin from the God and escape his punishment because Ngun

is all knowing and omnipresent.

• Ngun is a loving God, merciful and kind and his care will extend to generations to

whomsoever pleases Him.

• But he is also a terrible God and will visit the iniquities of the fathers upto three


In comparison the identical concept of God is seen in the revelation of God to Moses.

God's character was announced before he revealed himself to Moses. The





announcement in Exodus 34:6-7 is as follows: 'The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and

gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and faithfulness, keeping

steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressions and sin, but who will

by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and

children's children to the third and the fourth generations.


Bari, Fajulu (Sudan). The Supreme God, who, as is the case with many African gods, had

two aspects: Ngun Lo Ki and Ngun Lo Kak. Ngun Lo Ki was the sky god and was

associated withrain. Ngun Lo Kak was the god below the earth and was associated with

agriculture. Ngun Lo Ki created humans and maintained their life force; Ngun Lo Kak

brought death.

Myths about Ngun contain another common theme in African mythology—a rope as

the Link Between Heaven and Earth. The severing of the rope broke the connection

between humans and the sky god, making it more difficult to reach him. Communication

with the Supreme God required the intercession of a rain chief, or shaman.

Lynch, Patricia Ann. "Ngun." African Mythology A to Z, Mythology A to Z. New York:

Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File,

Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?

ItemID=WE49&iPin=AMAZ194&SingleRecord=True (accessed July 28, 2014).





Actually the word 'God' in Kuku is Ngun and the word for man is 'Nguto" or "Ngutu'

meaning, the image. The Kukus believe that Nguto came from Ngun. Man is created in

the image of God. The word for spirit is 'Nguteet" with its plural as 'Nguloko'. This also

means ghost. The Ngutelet is an image of God in the sense that the ghost is an image

of man. There is another word for Angels, 'Muloko'. However the Nguloko are also

considered as Angels. The implication seems to be that it is good people's spirit that

are used as angels. There are other types of beings which are spirit beings also. These

angels have the responsibility of roaming over. the earth executing God's orders. There

are special spirits who are responsible for each family to protect them and guide them.

These spirits are often thought of as the spirits of the ancestors of the family. There are

two types of spirits - the good spirits called Muloko lobut and the bad spirits called

Muloko lorpk.

The correspondence with the Biblical concept of man as created in the image of God

and of the angels who roam around the earth executing God's orders are evident. The

presence of angels protecting the families are probably a recent concept in the Christian

thought. 'So God created man in his own image, in the image God He created him;

male and female crated He them.' Gen.l:2 'These are they whom the Lord has sent to

patrol the earth.'Zech.l:l0

'There is also an extremely interesting concept of "Ngunto" which means exactly like

God. In Christian concept this corresponds to the concept of the only begotten Son of

God who "is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation'. Co1.1:15

However we could not get much information about this concept. There are stories

which indicates the existence of the Sons of God as we will illustrate later. There also

are indications that Nguto could become Nyunto under certain conditions. If this is so

Ngunto could imply a special class of beings rather than the "only begotten son"

concept. , This could accommodate the class of beings like Melchizedek.





There is also the concept of a designer, creator God who is unknown and

unknowable called Ngun Kagwtyantt. "In him all thinge were created in heaven and

on earth, visible and invisible ...... "Col 1:16

The supreme God is always held in reverence so that the ultimate oath is based on his

name. When a person escapes a danger or trouble, the common expression will be

'Ngun let' meaning luck that God brought. Taking an oath in Kuku is called 'milyo'. If

someone accuses you wrongly of any misdeed, the absolute denial is done as follows.

You take the sand or soil from the ground with your first finger and put it on your

tongue. Then make a cutting motion over your neck and point towards heaven. Then

you say 'Ngun lo-ki' which means God is in heaven.



by El Yuzbashi Regib Yunis, M.B.E., M.D

gives the following description:

"(1) In the Kuku tongue 'Ngulaitait', is the term assigned to designate the meaning

comprised in our term 'God', or Allah. They have a belief in a presiding deity endowed

with an invisible power and invested with a supreme sovereignty that influences and

directs the destinies of men. Ngulaitait, in their belief is accessible through the

intercession of Kujur, (Wizards or witchcraft-men) through whom he may be consulted.

They endow him with Omnipotence and Omnipresence and ascribe to him the power of

inflicting death through diseases upon humans at his will, and further-more believe that in

the discharge of this latter mission he roams about at daytime or at night in the shape of

a spirit that is entirely invisible. They hold that all luck, whether good or bad, is allotted to

various people according to his will, wherefore, when setting out on an enterprise a

person pleads with him for it. Besides they attribute to him the power of Creation, by





which he has brought life and matter to exist, and that he is Immortal, and in preference

to other localities he resides in ‘Khors' subterraneously, where he possesses countless

numbers of wives, children, and cattle, and it is at such Khors that he is consulted

through the kujurs."

3. How Communion with Heaven was Cut.

A. The Rope from Heaven to Earth

Long ago there was a link between heaven and earth by means of a rope which

stretched from. heaven down to earth. The legend has that it was controlled by a

spider who was to act as gate keeper and guide. One condition that was imposed on to

the visitors to the heaven was that they should not take anything from heaven to earth.

During the period of harmonious relation between heaven and earth, there were no

sickness, no hunger, no death, no hatred, no theft or evil. This was simply a state of

eternal happiness. This continuous happy harmonious relationship was broken off

when one elder who became selfish. During one of such visits he carrried a piece of

meat with him from the feast. When he slid down the rope, the meat rubbed against the

rope and pieces remained on it. The meat gave out its characteristic odor and hyenas

were attracted to it. In an attempt to eat the meat they bit off the rope. The heaven

people were angry and God pulled off the rope, thus severing all connection with earth

and heaven. (Some versions say that he did not really steal it, but did not wash his

hands after the feast. His friends were already on their way down while he was still

feasting being a glutton. So in a hurry he skipped the handwashing ritual.) Without the

rejuvenating heavenly food, sickness and death entered the earth. Along with came

selfishness, hatred and all sorts of evil.





Ngun Lo Ki and the Rope from Heaven

God has a dual aspect: Ngun Lo Ki, God in the sky, associated with rain; and Ngun Lo

Kak, God below the earth, concerned with earth and agriculture. The conception of

Ngun is vague: he is armed with power, and like the moon, he comes and goes; as





Ngun Lo Ki, he created men and keeps them alive, creating a hundred every month;

as Ngun Lo Kak, he destroys them and they die, killing a hundred every month.

Man originally lived with God in the sky, and came down to earth by means of a rope,

which was subsequently broken, severing the connection.

The rain chief, Fitia Lugor, has a holy stream called Kwe, to cross which is death. The

rain chief operates by the manipulation and the washing of the sacred rain-stones

after sacrifice. The stones are regarded as male and female, and in some cases seem

to be old stone implements. He does not claim to make rain of himself; his ancestors

were given their power and their rain-stones by God, and by the virtue of his

ancestors he intercedes with

A Dictionary of African Mythology

Harold Scheub

Print Publication Date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195124569

Published online: 2002

B. The Ladder from Earth to Heaven

In another legend, the heaven was only about 50 meters above the ground and was

made of leather. It was ruled by a mighty ruler beyond the skies - the God. God was with

his people. There was a ladder from the sky to the ground on earth, So people of heaven

and earth used to come and go as they liked and intermingled and fellowship together.

This communion between the sons of God and the sons of men continued until one. day

it was spoilt by a woman. She mixed some poison with groundnut paste and smeared it

on the sky leather. From that time on the sky moved away and never came back. Thus

man was ever separated from coming in personal contact with God.










C. The Chameleon and the Frog

In another legend death was introduced by a frog (probably representing Satan) against

the wishes of Chameleon (God). The chameleon wanted people to live for ever and work

and enjoy while the frog insisted that people should be lazy and should eventually die:

The frog argued that otherwise he could not hear funeral drums which he said he enjoyed

very much. Though these stories about the fall and separation of man from God are very

different from the Genesis story, the general concept of fellowship between God and man

and its eventual disruption because of sin is clear in the Kuku legends. It is also to note

the role of Satan and that of the woman.

4. Sin and Death.

ln spite of the alienation of man from God because of disobedience, man still have access

to God by living a moral life. The greatest sin that may bring immediate wrath of God and

consequent punishment are murder, adultery and in that order. Stealing, disobedience to

moral laws, disobedience to parents and elders, pride, selfishness are also punishable by





God and takes the form of sickness and death. Leprosy is considered as a punishment for


Thus in the Kuku thought, man need not die. If a man has lived a righteous life performing

all the moral and spiritual acts of sacrifices , rituals, observing the orders of the ancestors,

he will not die even if he is very old. Death is a punishment from God for the sins

committed. The sins of the parents may also be carried forward to their children. Death

takes its toll in decay most of the time until man dies of his old age. But for an evil doer,

who wilfully violates moral codes is often 4nstantaneous. In an outbreak of epidemic

caused by God the witches die first. In war also sinners are the fist to die. However a man

may be poisoned to death before his time. Thus in the Kuku tribe death is always looked

upon in suspicion as there may be a poisoner behind it.

For contrast and comparison with Hebrew thought we refer to Ezekiel's prophecy in

chapter 18.

'If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right - if

he does not eat upon the mountains and

lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,

does not defile his neighbor's wife or

approach a woman in her time of impurity ,

does not oppress any one,

but restores to the debtor his pledge,

commits no robbery,

gives his bread to the hungry and

covers the naked with a garment,

does not lend at interest or

take any increase,

witholds his hand from iniquity,

executes true Justice between man and man,





walks in my statutes,

and is careful to observe my ordinances

- he is righteous he shall surely live, says the Lord God' Ez 18; 5-9

'The soul that sins shall die' Ez 18:20

Though Ezekiel does not advocat the transference of sin from father to son, this is explicit

in Ex 34:6-7

When a man is dead, he has paid the price of his sins and he continues to live as spirit. If

he is not evil in his spirit he can have communion with God, if he wants, and be a

mediator for his people, who are still alive. There is no concept of hell in the Kuku system.

Man continues to live beyond death in continuous communion with both man and spirits.

As such ancestors are suitable mediators. In fact after the alienation of heaven and earth,

man's only way of contact with God remains through these ancestors and other spirits

who have access to God.

Kukus defines God as Father and Mother. Such a concept is slowly creeping in even in

the Christian church.today. The lack of the concept of God as mother has in the past

forced church to develop Mariolatory. God as a female principle inherent in the concept of

Wisdom and the Spirit. This definition helps the Kuku theology to merge ancestral cult

with the concept of God as the great great grand father and mother of all mankind. God is

not only the father but also thi mother. Man came out of God. It is interesting to note here

that in the family records of Jesus as given by Luke in chapter

4:31, ancestry ends as 'the son of Adam, the son of God.'





A small tukul (hut made of wood, mud and thatched with grass which is the common

housing Of the people of this part of the world ) is built between the tukuls of the goats

and the tukul for kitchen as the abode of the ancestors of the family ant the. place of

worship and communication center with God. In this respect it may be compared more

like .that of the temple which was built as an abode for God rather than the tabernacle of

the wilderness except that each family have a shrine and that they were made of

perishable materials. It is always kept clean and tidy. No unauthorised person may enter

inside the holy place lest they die. One person who is old and having grey hair may be

selected to go into the holies to serve the place, to sweep, to clean and to confer with the

spirits. Even then it has to be done by carrying with them white beer prepared for that

purpose. They may enter the holy place only when everyone is asleep.

5 The Ancestoral Cult.

From the above discussion it is apparent that ancestor worship and respect to elders are

essential part of the Kuku culture. Sin, therefore displeases the ancestors. For the same

reason, respect to elders is an essential character of the tribe. If you do not honour your





father and mother how can they be pleased with you when they are in the spirit The spirits

of the ancestors are always watching the members of his family, especialy with regard to

their inter- relationship. Every member of the family is expected to be reconciled with their

grandfathers and fathers before their death. Asking forgiveness at death bed to their

grandfathers is a matter of routine in each family. If he died in his anger with any member

of the family, there wilt be constant trouble within the family until he is appeased. If you

have been in good terms with your father and grandfather it will give you a long life with

abundance of blessings.

Evidently tallies with the commandment "Honour your father and mother, that your days

may be long in the land which the Lord your God give you' (Ex.20: 12) and Paul's

teaching 'Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honour your and

mother' (this is the first commandment with a promise), 'that it may be well with you and

that you may live long on the earth." It is a part of righteousness and it is the blessings of

the parents that may keep sickness and death away If there is any trouble within the

family, it may be caused by the evil spirits from the rivers. But the ancestors can help you

in this situation to eradicate the evil spirits.

The spirits of the ancestors are variously believed to live in their own houses and their

own compounds or in the rivers in a big tree or in a grove or even in the forest.

As a mark of respect the names of the grandparents are carried on by the grandchildren.

The first boy will carry the name of the father's father and the first girl will carry the name

of the father's mother. If this is not done the child may die.

The nature of the spirit of the ancestors depends on his character while he was alive. A

good man will remain a good spirit He will watch over his family and its welfare even

beyond the grave. His spirit will live in his compound. But if he was bad man and if the





relatives hated him, his evil spirit will go to the rivers. He may creep back into his own

house during the night while people are asleep. But the presence of this evil spirit will

disturb all the members of the household. They will have nightmares and may even fall

sick. If this happens the elders of the house should go to a spirit doctor (I have avoided

using the usual name 'witch doctor' because he is not necessarily evil as the name

implies. This word was coined by the early missionaries.) who will try to convince the

spirit, not to raid the house. This may require the sacrifice of a ram or white beer. In every

village there is a group of elders called 'Tameilk' whose work is to look after the living by

looking after the dead. When they understand from the spirit doctor that some of their

ancestors are suffering in the river from sleeping outside and are sucked by the

mosquitoes, they will probably build a small hut near his mother. Some small stones will

be collected and kept between big pots in that hut so that he may not injure anyone living.

Thus the evil spirits are essentially the spirits of the people who died while in

disagreement with his brothers. They normally become wilder after death and will be a

constant threat to people.

Mulako lobot are the good spirits- the spirits of the people who died in peace and

harmony. They are considered mort powerful than the evil ones. The curses of a good

spirits will continue to generations to generations.

In a sense we see here the merging of the concepts of angels and devils with the spirits of

the dead - one redeemed and the other condemned. In the apocryphal traditions angels

did directly intervene in the lives of people and did exorcism protection, magic and

guidance to safety measures by crafts. Hebrews 1:14 describes angels as 'ministering

spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation.





6. Spirits of Rivers.

Kukus believe in the gods of rivers (Kate), gods of the mountains (Nuloko ti mere), gods

of the bi (trees (Butt) and the gods that are ancestors (Merenye).. Though these are

referred to as gods, they are considered only as beings limited in space and having

powers greater than man because of their spirit nature.





They fear the gods of the rivers most. If women went to the river to fetch water they are

not allowed to shout lest they disturb the sleeping river gods. One should not kill any frogs

because they are the soldiers of the river gods. It makes the croaking when someone

comes near the river in order to inform the river gods. The punishment of the river gods

takes the form of ear ache and ear infection. The river gods are appeased by the offerings

of eggs, chickens and money. These are sacrificed at the riverbeds. When .a man wants

to marry a girl from the other side of the river, he should not 'cross the river with her

during the day. It has to be done during the night or during late evening. Then the girl's

father should go and get her back the next night. These are to be done during the night,

as the river gods will be away from the river at that time. They are free to move about only

in the night. If this precaution is not taken she may find herself barren and that is the worst

curse for a woman.

Sometimes the river gods are visible in human form with big head and small legs and

hands. Other times they are in the form of snakes. That is why snakes that live in the river

are not to be killed.





Towards the Nile from Kajo-Keji lands there is a place where two streams meet. The area

between the two streams is very fertile and resists even the heaviest drought. Where

these two streams Bgiri and Gbini meet there is a Water pool below the falls. The sound

of the falls can be heard upto 50 miles or more. A large number of good and bad spirits

control this area even today. A lot of strange things happen here. If you are passing

through this region please be warned. The first restriction is that as you walk along be

absolutely quiet, because the evil ones are waiting to punish you if you say something

about them. In order to prompt you to say something they will do many strange things

before you. 'An animal' may come running from nowhere and fall in front of you and die

and within minutes it will decay and you will see only its white bones as though they died

a good ten years ago. Without mentioning anything or asking your friends about these

things, you should continue your journey. Sometimes it may be a bird; at other times it

may be a huge fish swimming in shallow water. It might just start raining where you are,





but there will be no rain anywhere else. You will hear strange voices and funny sounds.

But never say a word. If you do you will be made stiff that you cannot go, or you may get

lost and will disappear into no man's land. You will be lost to this world until your relatives

bring an offering of egg and goat or ram to that place. Then you will be released


If you feel thirsty and ask for water , water will come to you in a very small pot called

'Lupunit' or a gourd called 'Ker', cooled and nice. But as you drink, it will never finish. You

will try to pass the pot to your friends, but it will remain stuck to you and immediately after

that you will disappear into the invisible unknown world until the gods are appeased. As

long as you do not speak, no god can harm you. If you are going to release a lost or

locked person, please consult the landlord of the place. There are several places like this

in Kuku land.


December 16, 2013

River gods at the source of the Nile

NAI researcher Terje Oestigaard is interested in a relatively unexplored area of research.

During a three-week field work in Uganda on the White Nile, he interviewed healers who

are chosen by river gods.

– I've been blessed by several river gods, says Terje Oestigaard.

The river gods are said to have power over the Nile and have settled in different healers'

bodies. They choose which humans they are going to be reincarnated through and are

telling them that in their dreams for example, or by allowing them to feel a physical

presence of them by a snake. Other healers acknowledge that these people really are

chosen and are used as the medium of the river gods. People are then seeking them to





be healed.

– If the patient gets well or get lucky in love, you can sacrifice an animal as a gesture of

gratitude to the river god . Whoever is declared healthy and not sacrifice anything will be

punished, for example by getting sick again, says Terje Oestigaard .

Healer praying to water gods, Itanda Falls. Photo by Terje Oestigaard.

River god Nile - 1st C AD





7. Spirits of the mountains.

Mountains are also attributed to certain spirits and some of them are very powerful. There

are four such mountains in Kuku land. They are Jale, Nyiri, Kimu and Keleke. During the

time of the reign of Chief Yengi of Kajo-Keji, there was a clan called Koturume who were

living near the mountain Jale. They wire rich in cattle and worshipped the god of Jale..

During the time of releasing the cows to graze, Jale also sent his children with their cows.

These children of Jale are like men with well formed nose and mouth and beautiful faces.

But their back side was empty and they had no intestines. These children used to play

together until evening when they separated and went home each with their cattle.

Jale has many things in. common with Gbiri in character. So the hunting men and women

who goes to collect soft broom from this mountain usually controls their tongues even in

these days. This great hill lies in the boarder between Uganda and Sudan.

There is also an interesting story of an encounter between Christians and Jale. Across the

hill Jale are the Media of Uganda. Early during the Christian missionary up thrust, some

Christians decided to attack the mountain spirits of Jale. Taking their drums and harps

and flute they set off to the sacred groves in the mountain. However they were forced to

retreat as an avalanche of stones and sticks and lashes met them. The spirits however

were invisible.





Jale is the biggest mountain in this region and women go there to collect broomsticks.

However no woman is allowed to say 'I am thirsty' while they are in the mountain. It is

considered as an insult to Jale and she will have the pot. No one who fought with sister,

brother, father, wife or husband should attempt to climb the mountain for any reason.

Those who go must be a person who is reconciled with the family and the tribe and

without sin. No woman under gestation or in her periods should climb the hill under

penalty of death. For Jale is a holy god and no uncleanness should be found in his land.

When people wants to go hunting to the mountain, they should prepare oil in a bottle and

meje (soft stones) along with white beer, the elders should then carry this ceremoniously

after purifying themselves to the mountain. Without getting drunk Jale would not talk or

yield his blessings.

Similar stories abound for other mountains and hills in this region. They are treated with

reverence all the time because they provide meat, broom, discipline and crops. No one

may start a fire on these mountains. But occasionally you may find the mountain burning

and covered with clouds' with thunder and lightning. But you are not supposed to talk

about these things, as it will bring eye diseases. No one is supposed to cut down trees

from these hills, though you may collect dead trees as firewood. It is uncommon for Kukus

to plant trees. They are supposed to grow by themselves.

However strict these gods may look, they are very forgiving and loving. Once a sinoffering

is made, the relationship is totally restored and curses are turned into blessings.

Even he may open the wombs of the barren in the family - the greatest of all blessings.

In the Hebrew culture also mountains were often looked upon with owe and had been

associated with strange supernatural powers. The ultimate example of this is found in the

Lord God's appearance on Mount Sinai. However there are many other mountains that





are associated with holiness and supernatural powers. In fact before the building up of the

temple by Solomon after entering Canaan sacrifices were always made on the high


8. Spirit Possession.

A person possessed with And'ude is highly feared. No one is allowed to touch the head of

this person unless permitted by the host entertaining the spirit. If this happens accidentally

or purposely, the spirit will throw the host down with her or his eyes closed, body stiffened

and fist clenched. The possessed then may start dancing. If the person who touched the

head is still around, wrestling and kicking of that person will follow. It is a great risk to fight

back under these conditions because the spirit filled person has extraordinary strength.

You may defend yourself or run away. Running away is not practical because the host

has extra speed and strength. The alternative is to pull out some of your possession -

money, handkerchief or anything at all- and wrench open the fist of the possessed and

place it in. If the thing is your own the spirit will cool off. Otherwise it will retort, "It is not

yours. I don't like it.' Apology is permitted after the departure of the Andude and the host

can forgive. You are not to utter anything about this incident any time later. A fully

possessed person climbs trees and falls down without breaking or cutting themselves.

The spirit may throw a host from the house top and make him dance with the head down

on the roof of the room.

Under these conditions the' person may speak with flowing tongues and in languages that

they have never learned or spoken before. Speaking in tongues is considered as a sign of

spirit possession. Falling down, lying naked and without control and speaking in tongues

were the signs of spirit possession among the early Hebrew prophets. Both good spirits

and evil spirits possessed the Hebrew prophets and both prophesied to guide or to

misguide people. (See Num. 11:25, 1 Sam. 10:6,9-13 etc.) During the coming of the Holy

Spirit upon the believers they spoke in tongues, which was considered as a sign of the





filling of the spirit. However we should note here that though speaking in tongues is a sign

of spirit possession it does not imply it is, the Holy Spirit. This can be ascertained only by

the' fruits of the spirit.

The spirits are very sensitive to musical instruments and to some specific songs. As soon

as an Andude possessed person hears the sound .of the drum or the song, he will start

dancing in the trance. They normally wants to be' the drummer until the spirit departs or

the song stops. Temporary possession may be induced by mechanical and musical

means. For this, goat dung is collected in gassiya leaves and is .put under the armpits of

the man or woman desiring such temporary possession. A helper who knows the songs of

the spirit joins the person in a similar manner and starts singing the songs. The helper will

pat over the head of the person in rhythm as background choir chants on. As the song

reaches higher and higher pitch the person will be filled. In the early Hebrew culture

temporary possession of the Spirit of the Lord was induced by music as is implied in 2

Kings 3:15, 'When the minstrel played, the power of the Lord came upon him. The spirit

filled person may transmit the possession to other people willfully. This is often done in

these cases to those they hate and to those who cause trouble to them by constantly

talking ill of them - remember that they are highly telepathic to evil vibrations. This is done

by oral pronouncement and direct contact or indirect contact. The oral pronouncement is

normally done in tongues and indirect contact is made by spit. The victim will

automatically walk on to the spit and touch it and the possession will be complete.

Anointing of the Holy Spirit by praying in tongues accompanied by the laying on of hands

is only a logical step from this.

There are two ways of exorcism. One is to use another possessed person to touch their

head. Alternately a plant called Lomueju may be used to beat the spirit out.





9. Totems of the Tribe.

Trees, stones, birds, animals, land, water, reptiles etc. are all sacred objects in one way or

other. They are all considered as the expressions of God through these substances and

life forces as the soul expresses itself through the body. However a particular clan or

family or person may consider one of these as especially sacred. For example the Burs

clan considers Tigers as their clan totem. 'We don't kill the tiger, and they don't kill us. In

the same way we don't eat them and they don't eat us.' The tigers visit these villages as a

peaceful animal and do not trouble the people. In special occasions like the burial of a

chief, certain weddings etc. tigers in fact officiate silently. Its name is applied for praising

the clan at dances, funerals and other victorious occasions.

10 Sacrifices.

The mode of worship and sacrifice are very similar if not identical with Hebrew culture. In

every home or village there is a small hut or separated area behind the house with three

hooks or stones arranged as a triangle. These are the sacred places. Sacrifices are

offered at the door of the hut or on the stones. 'An altar of earth shall you make for me

and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings your sheep and your oxen

in every place where I cause my name to be remembered. I will come to you and bless

you' (Ex20: 24). The sacrifice may be cereal offspring of sorghum, maize, millet, beans

etc. or animal offerings of ram, he goat, cock etc. When the sacrifices are offered the

group should not include young people below the age of 20 or women. The animal or

cereal offered must be without blemish and whole. No animal, which is not fattened, or

having only one testis or their testicles crushed may be offered as a sacrifice. It should be

male, first born of the mother. The color of the animal depends on the nature of the

offspring. A sin offering requires black and a thanksgiving offspring requires white. A goat

is often used among the Kukus. It is then presented to the juloko (spirit) by tying it at the

sacrificial spot. If it urinates, the offspring is acceptable. If it does not urinate it is not

accepted and an alternate offspring may be brought. When slaughtering, the animal





should be placed at the north side of the stones with its face towards south. Compare this

with the Levitical regulations. If the offspring is a burnt offspring from the herd, he shall

offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it at the door of the tent of meeting, that he

may be accepted before' the Lord.' {Lev. 1:3)

'Any animal which has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to

the Lord' (Lev. 22:24) 'He shall kill it on the north side of the altar." (Lev. 1:11)


An animal is sacrificed during a reconciliation ceremony to end a dispute between members of the tribe

Usually all the relatives are called together for the sacrifice and the meat of the sacrificial

animal must be cooked according to the parts. It should not be cooked with calcium or

with any fermenting substance, but it mast be cooked with common salt. 'You shall offer

no leaven nor honey on the altar..... You shall season all your. cereal offerings with salt.

You shall not let the salt of the covenant lacking .... with all your offerings you shall offer


(Lev.2:13) Each part belongs to each group within the family. For example the neck part

belongs to the nephews of the sacrifice. In the Hebrew traditions also there are specific





regulations regarding the division of the portions of the sacrificial animal. The sacrificer

receives a certain portion and the priest receives a certain portion. These are eaten as a

part of a great feast in both traditions. A sheep is used as a peace offering. At the end of

the peace offering the elder introduces all the members of the family by relation. This

insures that the girls and boys will not marry their own relatives. Similar procedures exist

for offerings for blessings before taking up a job, going for hunting and entering into a

business etc.

Sin sacrifices are sometimes offered at the place of the crime. A black goat is used for

this and the blood of the goat is sprinkled at the place where the sin was committed and

over the people to cleanse them. The elder requests the ancestors to intercede for'

forgiveness from God.

First fruits of every crop are holy. They are to be brought before the hut of the ancestors

and waved at the door for ancestors. The elder bless the fruit on behalf of the ancestors,

which are then cooked. A portion of it is then taken into the hut or the special place where

the trinity stones are placed. It is left covered and the next day the elders may eat of ft.

But the portions may be eaten on the same day. "You shall bring the sheaf of the first fruit

of your harvest to the priest; and he shall wave it before the Lord.' (Lev. 23:10,11) 'It shall

be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the morrow.' (Lev.19: 6)

11. Protecting God.

Talismans are very common among the Kukus. They either tie it with a piece of cloth on

their waist or on their arms. This will protect them all through their lives as magic.

Whenever they want to go to a house for beer or enjoyment they go to a lonely place and

call upon the God to protect them and take control of all that happens. If this is done, if the

food or drink brought in contains poison, the glass will break or a wind will cause a dust

storm and cover the food. When they face wild animals the God will cause the animals be





blind so that they cannot see him, giving him an opportunity to spear it or escape from it.

Talismans were common among the Jews also following the instruction: 'And you shall

bind them as a sign upon your hand.' (Deut. 11:18) Blinding the enemies were a common

tactics of prophets during war as is demonstrated in Kings. 'Strike these people, I pray

with blindness .... So God struck them with blindness.'(2 Ki.6:18)

When going out for war or for hunting elaborate worship and ceremonies are performed.

Beer is brewed and chickens are slaughtered and offered to God in the small one meter

tall tukul. These are taken in and offered in the night as no one 9s supposed to see' these

ceremonies. Before entering the hut, the elder should humble himself before the Lord and

his ancestors. in order to show this he may have to say that he is a worthless person

before them.

Early morning all the weapons are brought before the Lord and the elder will call upon,

the Lord and the ancestors to bless them. Then as the representative of God the elder will

anoint the weapons and tools with oil.

Once this service is over all the hunters or warriors are possessed by God and they do

not talk much. Perhaps the spirit will depart from them because of wanton talking. They

have to remain pure until the hunting or war is over refraining from going into their wives

not getting themselves defiled otherwise if it is a hunt God will drive the animals into the

net or render them blind to enable the hunters to spear them. In war God will make the

enemies blind so that they can be easily speared. They themselves are protected from

weapons that the spears, swords and bullets will miss them. Even if they hit, they are

rendered harmless. God fights for his people. However if the people sins and do not keep

themselves pure these protections will be taken away. We can sea these ideas in the

Hebrew thoughts also. In the fight against Jericho, the people were specifically told,





'You shall not shout or let your voice be-heard, neither shall any word go out of your

mouth '(Josh:6:10) Before going to war the high priest blessed the Israelite warriors with

these words: 'Hear O Israel, you dram near this day to battle against your enemies. Let

not your heart faint, do not fear or tremble, or be in dread of them; for the Lord your God

is he that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies to gave you victory.' (Deut.


When Achan sinned against God the Israelites were defeated before Ai warriors.

12. Lopede came but they rejected him.

Once upon a time the Kuku prayed for a savior, when there was a lot of trouble in the

land. As an answer to their prayer, the unseen God provided a being who sprang out with

mighty strength and authority called Lopede. Lopede came to the Kuku land from Agum

lo-ki meaning heaven or unknown world. He has no beginning nor end and was a son of

God. He came with his family into Kuku land and made his home a little away from the

natives. His first born was called Lenyang and his second son was called Lie. His ministry

started with healing the sick and raising the dead. He also destroyed many evil people

around and cast out demons and releasing those who were possessed of them. 'He is

without father and mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life,

but resembling the. son of God he continues a priest for ever.' (Heb.7:3) "And he went

about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching The gospel of the Kingdom,

and healing every disease and every infirmity among people. So his fame spread through

out all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and

pains, demoniac, epileptics and paralytics and he healed them all.' (Mt: 4:23)

As all the people began to give credit to Lopede, the status of the chief was threatened.

He called for a meeting of the people and planned to kill Lopede by attacking him in the

night. Among the people was Lenyang who reported the matter to his father. Knowing his

own position, power and authority Lopede only replied, 'Don't worry, I will take care of it.'





The next day they surrounded Lopede's house. His youngest son Lie was out for girls

hunt with other boys of the village. As the. front line was almost at the attacking point,

Lopede ordered a terrible wind which blew very hard disarming all the fighters \par of their

weapon. Lopede then disappeared with all his family. However Lie was left behind as he

was away. A knife without a handle was found in his settlement. Everything else including

his house and horses disappeared without a trace. Even today if a Kuku finds a knife, he

will say,

'I have found a knife in the former place of Lopede.' The present Lijo clan is believed to be

the descendants of Lii. Liijo literally means ,"The house of Lii' in the Madi language.

Lii gained power as he became man and attacked the Lugwares in the Uganda beyond

the West Nile. In the ensuing war Lugwares were defeated and the Kukus took, a lot of

Lugwares as war prisoners. They were given a separate place to live called Lugware

Kater. Lugware .omen were very cunning and they began to poison Kukus. It is believed

that Kukus learned the concept and the art. of poisoning from these people. Kukus then

realized that this was the curse of Lii. Lii on request caused a wind and carted them back

to Uganda where they settled back in the present Arrange area. They are there even

today. But they never attacked the Kukus ever again.

13. Chief Yengi.

Even recently when Kioum, the poisoning by women, became rampant Chief Yengi

cursed these women to death. British colonizers were already in the Sudan with their

garrison in Mangalla. On hearing Yengi's power they brought him into their camp and

interrogated him. Then he .as imprisoned and .as told to demonstrate his powers. Yengi

called on 'his ancestors and it rained for seven consecutive days without stopping. At the

end of seven days he was asked to stop it. When the British did not believe that he

caused the rain, he opened his palm and stretched his hand and showed them all sorts of





creatures moving in his palm. There were lions and tigers and snakes and birds. It is

believed that the British feared him and released him forthwith.

14. The Rain Maker.

Kukus are an agricultural community. They rely on seasonal rains for their cultivation.

There are both early rains and latter rains that are necessary for the full benefit of the

crop. Hence if any of the rains ape delayed there will be a disaster. Artificial irrigation are

practically unknown in this land. This is essentially because the land is hilly and irrigation

are not practical except through sophisticated engineering devices. In every village there

are groups of people (at least six) known as 'mute' They are responsible for the rains in

the land. In his early days 'Chief Yengi of Kajo-keji was himself the head of the rainmakers.

The rain makers have a short stick which is kept under a stone laver filled with

water from the Nile. Whenever the rainmaker wants to cause it to rain, he will come

kneeling down to the stone layer, which is usually kept in the hut of the ancestors and

God. He will then pick up the stick and wash his hands with the water from the layer and

look upto the sky. In reply to this ritual the clouds will turn black and rain .will start. If it

does not rain, the chief Rainmaker will go and ask God in his house of meeting whether

any sacrifices are to be rendered. It may be that a sacrifice of Kwete beer or animal or

bird may be required. If God is displeased with his people because of their communal sin,

He will close heavens and shall require a sin offering for the community. If the sacrifice is

beer, every family will contribute grains and a lady of noble family or the wife of the chief

rainmaker will brew it with care. If the sacrifice is an animal or bird, the whole community

will pay for it. The normal communal sin offering is a well fattened ram, one and a half

years old, black and without blemish. It is cut as prescribed on the north side of the altar

and the blood is collected in an earthen pot and taken into the hut along with the meat

that is cooked. All vital organs and special portions are thus offered. The remaining

portions are eaten during the feast that ensues by the whole community.





If the rain still doesn't come, the chief rainmaker will again inquire of God and complain to

God that without rain all the people are suffering without food and water. Then God would

tell the chief .by there was no rain. It may be that they have disobeyed all the

commandments of God or that the sacrifices are insufficient. The chief will come back

with the word to the entire community and explain to them what should be done so that

rain would come to the area. If it is sacrifice, then it is doubled. If a total repentance is

required, all the community will gather together before the hut of God and tell how sorry

they are. People will individually confess all their secret sins before the Lord and will beg

him in tears for God's forgiveness.

But in spite of these, if the rain still do not come for a very long time, the community will

gather together with all their families and will come against the rain-makers - its chief and

advisers. They will beat them severely even to death because they have sinned. They will

be dragged out of their houses to the hut of God to weep and complain.

Since these rain-makers have the power to open and close the heavens they are highly

respected and feared. These people being priests ape not allowed to cultivate. It is the

duty of the community to do that for them. If they have no food, the community will collect





food and beer for them. They take their wives from among the people without paying the

bride price. If a girl is refused to a member of the rain-maker's family he might shut off the

rain for the fields of that particular family. They might even invite some evil spirits from

their groves - called 'mirri" - and cause the girl to die. To be married into a rain-maker's

family is a great prestige for the girl and for her family.

When a rain-maker dies, his spirit will go to a nearby grove where all his ancestors now

live. These people are usually buried with their inner parts removed. The son of the rainmaker

who is next in line as the priest will have to cut open the stomach and remove the

entrails. It is 'believed that they contain white ants and grass hoppers. (These are

delicacies in this country.) If the entrails are not removed the charisma will end with him.

His spirit will join the spirits of his fathers or even become a leopard and will always be a

trouble to the community. No one is allowed to mourn for the rain-maker. However if

someone really wants to cry, they may cover themselves with mud and then cry.

It is to be noted that the land of Kuku is similar to the land of Canaan in all respects. In

Deuteronomy 11:8-19 this land of God's choice is described thus: '.... go in and take

possession of the land ...... a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land which you are

entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come,

where you sowed your seed. and watered it with your feet, like a garden of vegetables;

but the land which you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which

drinks water by the rain from the heaven, a land which the Lord your God cares for; the

eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of

the year. 'And if you will obey my commandments which I command you this day, to love

the Lord your God, and to serve him with ell your heart and with all your soul, he will give

the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather

your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your cattle,

and you shall eat and be full. Take heed lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside

and serve other gods and worship them, and the anger of the Lord is kindled against you,





and he .shut up the heavens, so that there be no rain, and the land yield no fruit, and you

perish quickly off the good land which the Lord gives you.' Southern Sudan is indeed a

land which answers to every description of this, a selected land of God for his people. I

have never seen a land where honey and milk flowed. Wild honey and cow milk are still

found in this land. Like the Kukus the Hebrews also relied on the rains for their crop and

animal feeds. One of the greatest rain- makers in the Hebrew history was Elida', who

"prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain

on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth

its fruits.' Ja.5:17-18.

Notice also the fact the rain-makers as priests have no inheritance as was ordained to the

levitical priests. 'You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any

portion among them. I am your portion... To the levites I have given every tithe in Israel for

an inheritance... and you may eat it...and you shall bear no sin by reason of it.'


15. The Spirit Doctors.

The spirit doctors are people who are possessed by some spirit- some good and others

evil. These may enter into people who are willing to harbor them and care for them and

can live peaceably with them. Once a person is possessed, he will change his personality

completely. He will have a split personality. The spirit will tell him to do odd things such as

.to sleep on the roof top op in the attics or even on trees. They may make him to eat.

tobacco instead of smoking it. Sometimes these people will go without food for several

days. Instead of drinking water, they may drink only beer. The alcoholic drinks were first

made in the Kuku land for the spirit and not for men. Later people began to use it. It is still

considered that alcoholism will lead to evil spirit possession. Drinking alcohol is

considered as a communion with the devil.





A spirit doctor may not cross a river or a stream without a knife in hand. This is because

the demons are at enmity with the river spirits (which are the spirits of the evil men.) The

spirit doctors drive these river spirits away during their exorcism and treatments.

Though most people do not like to do it, if normal sacrifices fail, sick people go to the spirit

doctors for treatment. He will thoroughly interrogate the person with a view to pin-point

causes of trouble and particular sins or even hatreds harbored within the hearts. He is an

expert psychiatrist who can hypnotize people and get to their secret problems. Then he

will prescribe sacrifices for these to the ancestors or to the spirits who are grieved

because of that. If it is a small sin, spirit doctor will chew some sim-sim seeds and spit it

on the patient and will .chant his magical words over the patient. 'Otherwise sacrifices of

cock, sheep, ram, cow or bull may be required.

Since spirit doctors are in great demand and since they earn very well people voluntarily

seek such possessions. When these people die they do not go away. Instead they take

possession of the eldest son or daughter in the

family. This may go or even





16. Blessing and Consecration.

Oil is of great importance to the lives of Kuku and symbolizes peace. Sim- sim as they

contains oil has an important part in most ceremonies.

Consecration. and blessings on people are made by the council of elders - the "Temejik'.

The person's uncle and the chief of the clan and the tribe are usually present for all such

ceremonies. They all chew the aim-aim seed and mixes it well with their saliva. This oily

paste is then taken out and of the mouth applied on the person - on their head, arms and

feet making the sign of a cross. A ram will be then sacrificed and the bile of the animal is

separated. The three elders then dip their fore-fingers in it and anoint the person again in

the same fashion as with the aim-aim seed in the sign of cross. The meal is then cooked

and served with 'Piong Boriesi" (a soft drink) under the Parenet for all the community.

To consecrate a new house, every visitor is provided with the aim-aim seeds and they are

chewed and spat all over the floor and the walls. Consecration of the weapons of war and

hunt are also done the same way. This is called 'Yaka na Kamulak'. Oil and blood are

always used in consecration and anointing among the Israel. Note the following

ceremonial events during the ordination of the priests by Noses. 'Noses took some of the

anointing oil .... and poured some of it on Aaron's head ant anointed him, to consecrate

him.' Lev. 8:10-13 "Then he presented the other ram, the ram of ordination... And Moses

killed it ... Moses put some of the blood on the tips of their right ears and on the thumbs of

their right hand and on the great toes on their right feet.' Lev. 8:22-24 "Boil the flesh at the

door of the tent of meeting and there eat it...' Lev. 8:31

17. Temejik and the Paranet.

Parenet is the central place of meeting of the elders. This is usually under a very large

tree at the center of the village. The council elders - the Temejik usually sit under this tree

and holds court, where complaints and cases may be brought. Decisions regarding the





community are also made here. It is also the place of feasting and dancing during

community festivals.

Children while they are yet in their teenage are encouraged to hang around the paranet

while :the Temejik deal' with various affairs. They are thus trained to know the protocol. of

the tribe, how to address various people and how to settle matters and get reconciliation.

The boys normally stay close to their fathers who will explain to them matters of interest.

They are taught to be respectful to all those who are older than them. Their job will be to

bring water and fire for the 'big ones' as they sit and smoke and administer. A clan that

doesn't train their young ones will fall into disorder.

During the time of Judges, in Israel, the Judges held their courts under trees. Thus we

note that Deborah 'used to sit under the palm of Deborah 'between Ramah and Bethel in

the hill country of Ephorim; and people of Israel came upto her for judgement. City gates

were also used as community courts. Hence we see Boaz obtains his Kinsman-

Redeemer right at the city gate in front of ten elders. During the period of monarchy the

place of normal judgment was at the court room or at the city gate.

18. Marriage.

Marriage between brothers and sisters and with cousins upto four generations are strictly

forbidden among the Kukus In order to avoid such transgressions the members of the

family ape introduced to each other during special family occasions and ceremonies.

Once a boy is interested in a girl, he may go himself and talk to her of his interest in her.

Alternately his parents may go and talk to her parents. Once the family and the couple

agree the boy invites other boys and may share the friendship together. Both the families

scrutinizes the pedigree, traits, madness heritage, laziness, selfishness, cruelty,

greediness 'and other matters of the other family in minute detail before consenting. If any





one group find a bad trait on the other group the engagement is withdrawn forthwith.

Otherwise after several months of courtship the parents will come together to settle the

bride price and other matters. The oldest person in the boy's family takes the bride price

and pays to the parent of the girl. The bride price is distributed among the relatives of the

girl according to the protocol. This gives the consent of the families to the. alliance

officially. The boy then invites all his friends to stay with him and the girl likewise invite all

her friends to stay with her. The number of women invited by the girl from among relatives

and friends depends on the status of the boy's family. However the boy will have to take

the girl by force from her house. If the girl's family is aware of the time at which the

bridegroom .is coming, the brothers of the girl and the family friends will put up a fight.

Hence the boy will have to plan his time cleverly and will appear at the house of the girl

and forcefully take her away. Very often it can be a real war. But the next day everyone is

happy and a 'Wani jagit" the sacrifice of ram, is performed and a feast ensues. This is a

peace sacrifice and if this is not performed the members of the girls' family will refuse to

eat as this may bring feuds between the two families, barrenness of the girl and sickness

and weakness for the children of the girl. At the end of the feast the girl's family will leave

with all the ladies in waiting except for a few who will help the girl to settle in her new

home. They may .stay for a week or even a month. The girl will stay with her husband

until she give birth to her first child. After that she may go back and visit her family.

The Hebrews have very similar betrothal customs and ceremonies. The custom of the

bridegroom coming at an hour unknown to the bride and her family was used by Jesus in

one of his parables, the parable of the ten maidens to illustrate his second coming. 'Then

the Kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went

to meet the bridegroom .... And the bride groom was delayed ...... Watch therefore, for

you know neither the day nor the hour." Mt.25:1-13.

Fornication is considered as the greatest sin in the community apart from sexual relations

between brothers and sisters and between near relatives. In such cases the girl brings





home 'monojin' curse with her. Its effect is sickness and death within the family and

childlessness. But death is her lot, either by lightning or by wild beasts of the forest, She

may be pulled down to death by the river spirits. The result is the same for the man who

lies with another man's wife. A sacrifice may be necessary for reconciliation within the

family and to removes the curse. But very often a woman will opt death as she will not be

able to find another husband. A man may marry after the sacrifice. But the Kuku family

places such great emphasis on faithfulness in marriage that usually the parents of the boy

as well as of the girl curses them to death or madness. The curse is equivalent to stoning

to death as it is a death sentence. "If a man is found lying with the wife of another man,

both of them shall die' Deut.22:22-30 is the Hebrew law.

If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, he is not committing adultery. But he will

have to pay the bride price of the girl according to the demand of her father. Until such

price is paid she will not be considered as his wife and the children will not be legally his

and will not be called after his name. The corresponding Hebrew regulation is found in

Deuteronomy 21:28,29 thus: 'If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her

and lies with her, and they Are found, then the man who lays with her shall give to the

father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he

has violated her; he may not be put away all his days." Sexual relations between couples'

who are already betrothed are ,not considered as a crime. But the children born will not

be legally the children of the man unless he pays in the full bride price, Among the

Hebrews also betrothal was considered as equivalent to marriage. Thus we see Mary

pregnant during the betrothal period and the society accepted it as that of Joseph's.

If a boy marries a close relative unwittingly the marriage can be nullified by a simple

ceremony of chicken sacrifice or even a cucumber sacrifice.





If a man die without children, his brother is expected to accept his wife and produce

children for his dead brother. This is known as the levirate marriage. If the man has no

eligible brother she may accept any close relative to perform the levirate duty. If a man

died without marrying, his brother or a close relative may marry a girl on behalf of the

dead man so that his name may not be cut off from the land of the living. The levirate rule

can be found in Deut.25:5-10. 'If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no

son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her

husband's brother shall go into her and take her as his wife

and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her .... that his name may not be blotted

out of Israel.' The question of the Pharisees to Jesus was based on this. The girl will

always according to custom will be the wife of the first man. In some clans the girl may

accept anyone and is expected to produce children for her dead husband. Because of the

polygamy the levirate system is extended to include the young wives of ones father also.

When the father dies if he has any young wives of the age of his sons, his sons are

expected to accept her as their wives. This is the duty of the eldest son.

19. Punishment among the Kukus.

There seems to be vast disparity between Hebrew and Kuku culture in terms of their

punishment systems. Among the Kukus there is no capital punishment for any form of

crime. The close equivalence to the capital punishment is cursing. When a person

commits a serious crime, the elders or the parents will curse the victim and they will

eventually die or will die by accident or by wild beasts. Stoning, spearing or lashing are

unknown as a punishment to these people. If a man is found to have criminal tendencies

and is a bad influence in the community, by the decision of the elders he will be advised

to leave the land. This again is equivalent to a death sentence as other tribes will most

probably kill him if found in their territory. Such people may survive with cunningness and

may start a new clan.





20. War

War between other tribes are accepted as norm. Killing another tribesman is considered

as murder. Intertribal wars for the sake of looting and for women are common. However

they never took slaves as war loot. A war prisoner is either killed or released or accepted

into the community and is never taken in as a slave. Slavery came to these parts only arts

the Arab conquests. Such an attitude can be found through out the old testament period.

Thus we see Samuel hacking don Kings of other nations, and David, the man after the

heart of God massacring men , women and children. Read 1 Sam. 21:8-1 "Now David

and his men went up, and made raids Upon the Geewires, the Birzites and the

Amalekttes ..... And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, but took

away the sheep, the oxen, the asses, the camels and the garments." Description of

massive raid for women is found in Judges 21 where the whole Israelites took part in the

raid of Shiloh for wives for the Benjaminites.

21.The Problem.

We have shown in the preceding portions the great similarity between the cultures of the

Kukus of the Sour Sudan (and since they are representative of all other cultures of the

region) and therefore of the Southern Sudanese culture: and that of the Hebrew

(especially of the period of Judges). These similarities extends to their concept of God,

man an, angels and in their details of levitical practices and in their social and economic

practices. Now the question remains How did this happen?

The first possibility is that it could be an accident. The geographic similarity could be a

possible explanation. But this, could not explain the vast similarity. The similarity cannot

be accidental even with the little environmental similarity f~ farming techniques and






A second possibility is exchange of information through contact. Here again we meet

difficulties. We know that such contacts did exist through diplomatic means between

Israel and South Sudan as is indicated in the prophecy of Isaiah (Is.18). However noting

the great distance between the two countries and knowing the slow communication

system of that time such a possibility is meager. Further Israel was not a missionary

people. In fact they detested other nations and kept their God for themselves. As Lazarus

Mawut points out, Christianity had greater possible contact to this area through two

channels, The eunuch whom the Deacon Philip baptized was a minister of Metes in Nuba

regions. We also know that Soba near Khartoum, was a flourishing Christian country.

Both these were in the Northern Sudan. But we see very little influence of Christianity in

the southern Sudanese culture. (See Vantins, Christianity in the Sudan, Bologne, Italy,


Since Kukus are Hamites and Hebrews are Semites, they belong to entirely different

ethnic groups and cannot be thought of as the 'lost tribes of Israel'. In fact Africa beyond

the confluence of Nile was considered as unknown regions.

Most theologians would try to explain these similarities as due to general revelation. But

then was the revelation to Moses also a general revelation. Revelation to Moses was a

direct and special revelation of God. Thus we are forced to the only conclusion of the

same source i.e. Southern Sudanese also received the type of revelation Moses received

on the Mount Sinai. But the' bible does not speak of such a prior revelation clearly. Then

the Bible (the Old Testament) is only the history of the Jews except for the early chapters

of Genesis. In fact Jews had the tremendous advantage of the man of Moses who was

trained in the palace of Egypt as a prince in all known arts and crafts of that time. Egypt

was the greatest empire of that time. So we got the oracles of God written down by the

Jews. Others were not that fortunate. In this connection we note the statement of the

Dinka Chief Line August as quoted by Mawut: 'The missionaries came and found that' the





people already knew a lot. The missionaries actually wrote down what they heard from

the elders. What was recorded was from the people. It is Just that our people did not

know how to write. We grew up hearing it from our fathers, sons from their fathers coming

down from well back. What was lacking was somebody to write it down and say, 'This is

our Grandfathers' book and our Fathers' book'. That was what was missing. But the Word

of mouth which we ourselves 'heard was there.'

The question is, is there any reason or biblical evidence for such a previous revelation? I

think there is.

Amos 9:7 reads: "Are you not like the Sudanese to me, O people of Israel?', says the

Lord. Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and

the Syrians from Kir?' The important point herd to note is the reversal of comparison. Lord

is not saying '0 people of Sudan, are you not to me like the People of Israel?'. Instead

God is speaking to Israel and says they are to him like the people of the Sudan, indicating

that Sudanese were the people of God before Israel was chosen.

The Bible clearly states that God chose people for three specific purposes: First they are

to be a kingdom of Priests to the nations so that they may declare to the rest of the world

the greatness of God. 'If you will obey my voice and keep my Covenant, you shall be my

own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to be a

kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' Ex.19:5,6 Secondly they were to guard the word of

God. "Then what advantage has the Jews?... To begin with the Jews are entrusted with

the oracles of God.' Thirdly they were to bringforth the Word of God in Flesh, i.e. they

were to produce Jesus. Israel was rejected by God in carrying on as a special people as

they failed to act as missionaries and they failed to accept their mesias. Is ~t not then

reasonable to assume that God might have called other people and must have rejected





them for some reason or other because of their failure. If so Amos' list gives these nations

which includes Sudan followed by Philistines and Syrians.

We do have evidence to show that Philistines were God's chosen people. Philistines,

sons of Egypt, son of Ham, son of Noah were called out of Caphtor (See 1Chr.1:12,

Deu.2:23, Jar. 47:4, Amo.9:9 , Gen.10:14) a wreath shaped island in Africa. Among the

Philistines we see Goliath and four of his brothers who are the children of Anak, who

occupied Palestine for it was given to them. God brought them out of Caphtor and gave

them Canaan, the promised land if we accept Amos. Bible .however gives the god of

Philistines as Dagon the fish- god while they were a mountain people at that time. How

did this come about. Phillistines tribal memory went on to remember the great leading of

God in bringing them over the ocean. Did God dry up the ocean for them. Or did he

provide fishes to carry them across. With a mighty hand God led them into the promised

land. Just as Israel's God is a mountain God, Phillistines' God was a sea God. But then

they degraded God in the form a creature. This must have been their downfall.

Note also that Phillistines, sons of Anak, were children of the sons of God as mentioned in

Gen.6 and referred to in Num.13:33. God called these Hamites out of Caphtor in Africa

and brought them and gave them the promised land and they ruled from the capital of

Jerusalem'. Thus Abraham meets with the King of Jerusalem, Melchizedek (Gen.

14:18,19) who was the ultimate product of the Phillistine culture. He was the priest of the

Most High God. He is described in Heb.7 as one 'resembling the Son of God', i.e.

resembling Jesus. Each culture could produce what it can. In the. meeting of Melchizedek

with Abraham, Melchizedek blessed Abraham and handed over the election to him. Then

on we see the decline of the Philistines, a falling away from the understanding of the Most

High God. Abimelech, the King of Gerar, King of Philistines certainly showed a deep

understanding of God, he even had visions of God and was very sensitive to God's





leadings. (see Gen.20,21,26). He also was the prophet of God. (Num. 22-23) Otherwise

we will find it very difficult to explain his presence. As the Israelites entered

Palestine the King of Jerusalem was Adoni-zedek. Evidently he was a predecessor of

Melchi-zedek. But even though his name includes Adoni he does not know Adoni. Very

soon the city of Jerusalem was lost to the Philistines and they were in the hands of

Jebusites, the hilly billys of that time. From them David wrenched out Jerusalem.

Thus evidently God called Philistines and produced as their contribution to the world, one

like the son of God and then rejected the nation. God then must .have called other people

before as Amos claims. The first call must have been Sudan, but they were able to

produce only a Lopede, whom they rejected and the nation was rejected by God. What

was their corruption? We can only guess. Was it the fall into ancestral worship?

Historical evidence indicates that the Southern Sudanese tribes were once occupying the

Northern provinces and were pushed back. Probably God led them across Nile into the

Southern provinces which flows with 'milk and honey', and is an agricultural land similar in

all respects to Palestine. Mawut says , 'The Dinka have experience similar to the Jewish

crossing of the Red Sea. Stories connected with their migration from the east of the Nile

to the west mention such events ...... In a story of Western Dinka migration from the

eastern bank to western bank of the Bahr el Jebel to Bahr El . Ghazal, a leader of a

pursued people , Ajing, prayed to God at Lake Shambe that the water should part to make

way for his people to cross. God heard his prayers and made the water part, after which

the Dinkas crossed through a dry river bed to the west.' (see Lienhardt)

Thus a biblicaly acceptable and viable solution to the identity of revelations of the Kuku

and Hebrew culture could be attributed to the direct revelation of God to these people.

When and where this happened is not known. Once this is accepted it could also explain

many of the paradox of Suddenness experience. Through the history these people were





continuously exiles and were constantly given over to oppressor. It was the same

experience for Israel: 'And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord,

forgetting the Lord their God, serving Baals and Asheroth. Therefore the anger of the Lord

was kindled against the Israel and he sold then into the hands of .... ' (Jud. 3:7)

21. Acknowledgments.

I am deeply indebted to the following members of the graduating class of 1986 of the

Sudan Theological College, Juba, Sudan who has collected all the data in this paper with

great zeal and enthusiasm. They are:

(1) Andrew Longo of Didinga tribe

(2) Elijah Biar Makureh of Dinka tribe

(3) Emmanuel Ammo of Kuku tribe

(4\} Emmanuel Waigo of Kuku tribe

(5) Erastus Tupa of Kuku tribe

(6) Eugene T. Luka of Latuko tribe

(7) Jeoffrey Abutre of Kakwa tribe

(8) John Noah Komi of Kakwa tribe

(9) Margaret Toya of Kuku tribe

(10) Margaret Nyoka of. Kakwa tribe

(l1) Moses Angupale of Kakwa tribe

(12) Nelson Duku of Kuku tribe

(13) Scopas Maya of Kuku tribe

(14) Simon Mundara Muya of Gimara tribe

(15) Richard Onztma of Lugwara tribe.

I am also indebted to the staff of the Sudan Theological College who cooperated with me

in this adventure.





My gratitude is specially to Emmanuel Waigo for acting as coordinator without whose help

most of the observations would have been unintelligible to me





The following paper by Dr. Poggo traces the history of the Kuku people from the 14th

century onwards.

Who Are the Kuku People?


Dr. Scopas S. Poggo

This paper will give an overview of who the Kuku people are and how they came to

occupy their present homeland called Kajo-Keji.

The history and culture of the Kuku people is rich, yet only sketchy accounts recorded by

British colonial officials and missionaries exist in journals, diaries, and a few paragraphs

and chapters in books. In general, the literature on the Kuku people is so sparse that only

a few examples are worth mentioning.

El Yuzbashi Negib Yunis, MD, a Northern Sudanese medical doctor who worked in Kajo-

Keji Civil Hospital in 1922-23 wrote an article entitled “Notes on the Kuku and Other

Minor Tribes” that was published in Sudan Notes and Records, (Yunis, 1924).

Meanwhile, Major C. H. Stigand, a former governor of Mongalla Province (later named

Equatoria) in the Southern Sudan in the second decade of the twentieth century, wrote a

book entitled, Equatoria: The Lado Enclave (Stigand, 1923/1968) in which he devoted a

few chapters on related peoples, the Bari, Kuku, and Kakwa.

Professor M. M. Ninan of the University of Juba in the Southern Sudan wrote an article

entitled “Comparative Study of the Kuku Culture and the Hebrew Culture” (Ninan, 1987).

Daniel Wani Tomilyan, a Kuku Catholic Priest, published a monograph entitled The Kuku

Cultural Phenomena (Tomilyan, 1999).

Finally, Reverend Doctor Oliver M. Duku, a Kuku medical doctor who became a pastor

for the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, published a book entitled, History of the Church in

Kajo-Keji (Duku, 2001).

According to a Southern Sudanese intellectual group affiliated with the Sudan People’s

Liberation Movement that conducted research on ethnicity in the Southern region, the

Kuku people are one of the sixty ethnic groups (“House of Nationalities,” Nairobi, n.d., 53-

57). The author of this paper (Dr. Scopas S. Poggo) has done partial research on the

History and Culture of the Kuku People. A more in-depth investigation of this subject will

be continued in the coming year.





The Kuku people belong to a large cultural and linguistic group called the Eastern

Nilotes. This group includes the Taposa, Didinga, Boya, Latuko, Lakoya, Lopit,

Lokorong, Bari, Kakwa, Nyangwara, Pojulu, Mandari, Kuku, Turkana, Maasai, Iteso, and

the Akarimojong. (Shillington, 1995, 120-121; Matti, 1980, 6). Oral tradition suggests that

in the second decade of the 14th century A.D., the Eastern Nilotes, who were originally

composed of the Taposa, Bari and Latuko, began a wave of migration from ancient

Meroe, and journeyed eastwards where they consequently reached present day Eritrea.

From there, they turned south, and trekked through the southwestern highlands of

Ethiopia (Igga, Wani, 2004). These migrants had acquired domestic animals such as

cattle and goats as far back as 500 A.D., and they also practiced agriculture (Hodnebo;

1997, 87). It is probable that these migrants may have brought the knowledge of iron

working with them from their original homeland of Meroe.

Over time, these migrants continued their southward push, and ultimately reached the

western part of Lake Turkana (ibid.). The Taposa and related peoples like the Didinga

and Boya, moved into the southern-most part of Eastern Equatoria, and remained in this

region. They continued with their pastoral lifestyle to this day. Meanwhile, other groups

such as the Bari (and related peoples) and the Latuko (and related peoples) trekked

northward where upon their arrival at the Lopit mountains near Torit, split into two groups.

The Latuko deemed the Lopit mountains and the surrounding country most strategic for

defense purposes, and they subsequently established their permanent homeland there

(present Eastern Equatoria State). The Bari and related peoples such as the Nyangwara,

Pojulu, Mandari, Kakwa, and Kuku moved further north in hopes of reaching the White

Nile (Igga, Wani, 2004). As the Bari speakers journeyed northward, they encountered the

well-established settlements of a Western Nilotic people called Lwo at a place known as

Tekidi on the East Bank of the Nile. The Lwo people (whose original homeland was in the

Bahr al-Ghazal region), belong to the Western Nilotic group in Southern Sudan. They had

migrated southward, crossed the White Nile, and journeyed eastward where they

established their state structures at Tekidi in the period 1193-1274 A.D. The power of the

Lwo people was derived from its hierarchical structure: the king at the top had both

secular and spiritual authority. He was assisted by a council of elders that advised him on

various political, economic, and social matters. The Bwola was a type of dance

performed by commoners, which over time, “converted to a Special Royal Dance.” This

was a symbol of power and prestige for the Lwo “king.” (Matti, 1980, 11).

The Kuku were the second group of Bari speakers that invaded Tekidi, but like the

Pojulu, Nyangwara, and Bari before them, they failed to dislodge the Lwo. In recognition

of the power and prestige of the Lwo people at Tekidi, the Kuku made no more attempts

to assault and possibly defeat them. Rather, they followed the route that their

predecessors had taken (ibid.). They ultimately crossed the White Nile, and arrived at the





Sokare escarpment--this is a range of mountains that stretch north, south, and west on

the West Bank of the river, covering parts of the Bari, Madi, and Kuku territories. (Poggo,

Scopas, “personal observation”).

Generally speaking, the Kuku people crossed the Nile and entered Kajo-Keji as

invaders. They came in small waves, sometimes displacing or absorbing the previous

inhabitants of the country, the Moru-Madi group. Thus, the first Kuku invaders were the

Kinyi’ba and Kande’ba clans which displaced the Madi people, the original owners of the

land. They laid claim to the most fertile and productive land, and called themselves

monye kak (landlords), known as the people who ate their food with salt (Hodnebo, 93;

Duku, Lobunek, n.d. 1).

Meanwhile, the final wave of Kuku migrants in Kajo-Keji was that of the Kasurak clan.

This group owned cattle, and also brought with them the institution of rain-making. They

did not lay claim to any land, and were therefore not labeled as monye kak or landlords.

Their new home was established at Kikiji Hill several miles west of the Sokare

escarpment. It was from here that the rest of the rain-making clans in Kuku society

received their “rain powers” (ibid.).

The Kuku are generally comprised of more than one hundred clans whose

backgrounds can be traced to the various immigrant groups in the Kukuland

(Tomilyan, 1999, 3). The Kuku, for instance, borrowed some of the marriage rituals,

traditional dances, and songs from the Madi people along the east and west banks of the

Nile. Meanwhile, the Kuku language carries a large Bari vocabulary. The institution of

rain-making and the nature of independent chieftaincies among the Kuku people were

borrowed directly from the Bari. Each chieftaincy, headed by a rain-maker, covered a

large territory (Jale, 2002/60; Tete, 2002/55). The people in each chieftaincy carried out

their political, economic, and social activities independent of the other chieftaincies.

There were occasional raids or skirmishes between neighboring villages or chieftaincies,

which lasted for only a short time (Mulukwat, 2003/60).

In the event that the entire Kukuland was threatened by powerful foreign armies such as

the Bari, Madi, Lugbara and the Acholi (ethnic groups of Uganda), all the Kuku

chieftaincies would unite together to fight and defeat such an enemy. For example, in

ancient times, the Bari, Madi, Lugbara, and Acholi warriors invaded the Kuku homeland,

but they were defeated by the Kuku armies. These waves of invasion resulted in the

capture of prisoners of war. Thus, the names such as Gamba, Alia, Nagamba, Lonyuru,

and many others are not indigenous names—this is testament to the Lugbara-Kuku wars

(Tete, 2002/55).

Before the advent of the knowledge of iron working in the Kukuland in ancient times, the

Kuku peasants used pointed sticks fashioned from branches of a tree called payat. This





was a special type of hard wood tree—it was not only used for cultivation, hunting, and

fishing, it also served as an offensive weapon. The gardens of the Kuku people were

small in size, which meant that food production was minimal. Nonetheless, the food they

produced, and the wild vegetables and fruits that they collected, helped sustain their

livelihood. The Kuku population continued to grow steadily over time, and small groups of

families moved further away from their original settlements in search of more fertile land.

Hence, the Kuku word kukutoro, which literally means “keep on moving.” The name Kuku

was derived from that word (Taban/Y, 2002/67; Modi, 2002/57).

Most Kuku families settled in places that were in close proximity to streams or rivers.

Some large rivers like the Nile, Kigwo, Ki’bo, Nyawa, and Kaya, and a few other seasonal

streams may have provided fish that supplemented their diet (Wani-Buluk; 2002/69).

In 1797, Jagira and his wife Keji discovered the art of iron smelting in Nyepu area of

Kajo-Keji. Iron revolutionized agriculture, warfare, hunting, fishing, and marriage. The

Kuku blacksmiths made iron tools such as hoes, wukit (v-shaped tool), knives, spears,

arrows, etc. Thus, the Kuku people were able to cultivate large acres of land, produce a

variety of food crops, and engage in fishing and hunting. Spears and arrows became

important offensive weapons for the Kuku armies. The blacksmith tools also became an

integral part of the Kuku bride-wealth during marriage ceremonies.

The inter-mixing of the various Bari, Madi, Pojulu, Kuku, and Kakwa clans, and Lugbara

families and individuals, resulted in the formation of a unique cultural and linguistic group

of people that constitutes the present day Kuku society.

On August 18, 1955, the soldiers of the Equatoria Corp organized the Torit Mutiny

against the Sudan government. Because of the fear of persecution, hundreds of

thousands of South Sudanese sought refuge in the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and

elsewhere. It is important to note that as the war intensified, many Kuku people migrated

to, and settled in the West Nile and Buganda regions of Uganda in the late 1950’s. A

case in point is the author’s mother, Anna Poni Wani-Buluk, who, like many other Kuku

people, fled Kajo-Keji and found sanctuary in Madi District of the West Nile region. She

and her family subsequently relocated to the Buganda region in Central Uganda (Wani-

Buluk, Jan. 1985/52). In the 1960’s, her family ultimately settled in Gulu in Northern








1. Introduction

Kakwas are a highly developed group of clans living on agriculture. In the on thrust of

nomadic pasture culture the agricultural based group were concentrated in the regions of

heavy rains, rivers and valleys. The Kakwas are found around the Yei district where there

are heavy rains throughout the year and the land fertile.

2. Nguleso.

The God, the almighty is associated by these people with the mountains. He is the creator

God who created the mountains and live in it. This mountain God is called Juleps or

Ngeleso, which actually means all wise or the Great wisdom Nguleso is worshipped in the

mountains where his presence is manifested through thunder and lightning and the

calmness an whispering breeze. Places near the mountains are respected and feared. No

one dare to cut the trees nearby. Disobedience to this regulation will lead to blindness or

deafness Immediately.

However each clan worshipped this God in their own place with their on Matat the High

Priest. These places were normally associated with big tree called 'Laro". It may also be a

grove near a river or hill. However God is not considered a localized. God moves with the

wind and thus he is every where.

Ngulesso has a host of angels under him, who ape his agents in the world. Notice

Ngelesso is not a local god. His dominion is over all 'the world and he administers law and

order through his angels who reports to him regularly.. He is believed to have both good





and bad angels - Malyika lobut and malyika lopok. They all did. various functions - the

good and the bad one through which the world is sustained.

Since Ngulesso is 'a holy God, who would not leave any sin unpunished people are afraid

of him and fear to go near him. The elders of all the clans of Kakwa gathered together and

decided that one man should be elected and separated who is righteous and upright in his

life to act as High Priest to the God. Aburre-Lo-liggi - who is so called because the ruling

clan is known as Liggi.- was elected as Mattat which literally means chief. and people

come to his house for worship. People built small'. house for God later on separated from

that of Matat so that when there is a quarrel in the chief's house, God will still be in peace

and may not in his anger destroy them.

Ngulesso demanded that people be holy in all their walks of life. If they remained sinless

he took care of the entire tribe's problems regarding healing of sickness, defeating the

enemies, crop etc. Whenever the people wants of do cultivation or harvest or go fop

hunting, they would first come to the house of God fop worship and to get his blessings.

He will the protect the crop, the produce and the hunters. He will then keep the destroyer

and the devour at bay. The Mattat could curse the enemies and even send harmful

insects like the bees, the locusts and worms to destroy the plants of their enemies But if

there were sin in the clans his punishment was direct and severe. He would then send

thunder (piya), small pox (Kongo) and drought (Rile) etc. among the Kakwas. However

accusing one's enemies falsely will be very dangerous because he is a righteous God. He

discerns the needs of all people and judges both the sides rightly. God revealed himself to

the Mattat through dreams, visions and through audible voices.

2. Sin and sickness in the camp.

Whenever there is sickness in the tribe whether among men, animals or the crop' it is a

indication of the wrath of Ngelesso. This will be confirmed by direct revelation to Mattat.





Mattat will then call hi members to discuss this problem and to identify the cause. The

identification is done by traditional method of he sacrifice. The method consists of placing

a number of stones in a circle and assigning each stone to a cause, a tribe or person as

the case may be. A hen will then be placed at its center and its head chopped off. The

hen's body is then left t run around the circle until it fall at one stone implicating it. The

usual sins are stealing, killing, sleeping wit someone's wife. Once the cause is identified

reconciliation of the person, village and the tribe is imperative because ever sin is a

collective responsibility.

Matat. will ask God to forgive the people and since he is merciful God will forgive them. A

bull will be sacrificed and it: liver, tongue, the heart and other parts including all the fat will

be cooked and left in the house of God. The rest of the, meat will be eaten in the ensuing

feast At the end of the meeting the Matat will take two types of leaves, Lujurtli am

Lomu'ddi, and dip them into the water. all the people will then wash their hands in this

water and feast on the meat of the, sacrificed bull. At the end of the feast they will again

wash their hands in this water. The whole community will then stand in a group and the

Mattat will move round them and talk to God thus: 'Ngulesso, we are here, we

misunderstood an misbehaved before you, now forgive us and heal the sick in our midst.'

At the fourth round, he will throw the leaves to t~ west in the direction where the sun sets.

As the day's sun goes down, so will the sickness and all other problems and a new a day

will begin with the birth of the new sun. Before the people disperse the Mattat will pour

this water on the feet .c every member of the community. They are now cleansed from all


3. Communal Sin

When the whole community grow stubborn towards God, he will send a terrible disease

called Ku'du Ku'du which affects both man and beast alike. On recognizing the sickness

the chief will beat the drum and gather all the community together. They will discuss the

situation and may recognize their fault . Every one will then contribute dura and will make





a lot of beer. A day will be set apart for a special sacrifice when a cow will be sacrifices.

The blood of atonement will then be sprinkled on .the door post of every house by Mattat

Aburre. Ngelesso and his angels will be given the best part of the meat. A pot of wine will

be put in God's house along with the liver and other inner parts of the cow. At the end of

the feast, a discussion will be held and every body will forgive each other and God will

forgive everybody. Every year the tribe will have to remember this forgiveness by

organizing a similar feast at the same season.

4. Three types of sacrifices.

There are in general three types of sacrifices offered to God.

1. The sin offering

Whenever a sin is involved whether it is of the individual or of the group or of the

community as a whole it has to be atoned. Atonement Is obtained only through the blood

of either a bull, a ram, a goat, a sheep or a bird. The animal selected must be without

defect or any blemish and must be acceptable to God. Only after the God has shown his

acceptance could it be sacrificed. Otherwise it may be rejected. In order to ascertain the

acceptability, the animal is brought before the door of the house of God and tethered

there and is watched to see for signs. If the animal urinated it is rejected, if it excretes

dung it is accepted. The blood of sacrifice must be sprinkled on every door of the house of

the members of the clan and its meat eaten by the elders.

2..Thanksgiving offering.

Any victory won in the battle, any hunting which gave abundance of meat or which went

without loss of life or accident, any bountiful harvest are all the blessings of Ngelesso. His

eyes are always over his people an his powers protects them. A year without war or

sickness is also an occasion of thanksgiving.





In all these cases the people will offer goats, sheep, cows for a great feast. All the clan

will eat and drink Before the Lord their God.

3. Sacrifice for needs.

Whenever there is a special need, whether at the time of cultivation, or beginning of

hunting or personal need of a job or success in job, a sacrifice may be made.

Before departure into the bush before hunting, people will bring all their spears, bows and

arrows to Mattat to be blessed He will then take two types of leaves one from Kireri and

the other form Peps tree. Standing near the spears and arrows, h~ will then talk to

Ngelesso and ask him to guide the hunters and to meet their needs. He will then split the

leaves into two parts and will throw some to the left and some to the right. He will then

release them for their hunting. The first anima to be killed must be brought back to God as

a thanksgiving offering. After this they can kill as many as they like.

5. The Origin of Evil Spirits.

Though very little is known about heaven and the people of the heaven, the Kakwas

believe that there are tribes in heaven as there are tribes on earth. The sides of heaven

are protected by rails.

There are two seasons of the year in Kakwas known as Samga and Munda which are

closely associated with the position of the stars- especially the six star constellation

known to them as Nyuonyuni. It is the position of these stars that determine the time of

planting, pruning, weeding and harvesting. The heaven controls the earth.

One day a woman with a big head, long hair, and thin legs fell down from the heavens

accidentally or otherwise. In her interview with the elders, she explained that she had a





fight with her husband and a window of the sky got opened and she fell down through it to

earth. She claimed that she had left three boys and one girl up there. She had her baby

on her back when she fell down to earth. The elders provided for her and she stayed in

the village. But on the fifth day she took a pot and went down to the river to collect water.

She disappeared without a trace from then onwards. The Kakwas believe that she is the

mother of all evil spirits that wander around the rivers, thick forests and mountain tops.

6. Origin of death.

In the beginning people lived a long time because there was no sickness. People died

only of old age. When a person died, no one was allowed to cry. The dead body will be

warped up in a cowskin and put on top of a granary stand, 'gumere'. The body was then

covered with the leaves of a tree called Konynki. The body will be left there for e moon,

after which she or he will come back alive in their youth. Thus there were no burials as.

people continued to regenerate in this process and lived indefinitely. One day Abure left to

another village to attend to the funeral of h' uncle's son. The report came to him that the

boy was eaten by a leopard two days ago. Before his departure, he, instructed his

assistant Tonjimosu to urge the. people to refrain from all evil. The journey took three

days. Before his return, them was a heavy rain and white ants (Kudu-to-Konga) were

expected to emerge. White ants are a delicacy rarely available. The people therefore got

busy cleaning the anthills for catching the ants. Toyimosa instructed his people to

concentrate on one side of the village opposite to the forest where wild animals lived. But

the side was near a neighboring tribe called Kujuba who did not worship Ngelesso. The

people arrived and started their preliminary preparations. But soon they heard people

crying and wailing and singing and dancing. They have never heard this before, because

KuJubes were burying a corps and they had their burial place near the anthill. The whole

ceremony looked so wonderful to the Kakwas. They stopped the people .and asked

whether they could buy the corpse so that they too can cry, sing and dance. After a long

bargain time KuJubos agreed at a big price. The Kakwas carried the corpse to their





village with crying and singing and dancing and the buried the corpse according to the

condition of the purchase. They brought beer, killed a sheep and had a great feast. When

they were drunk they fell into evil ways.

When the Abure' returned, he was told of the story. That night Ngelesso appeared to him

and said 'that his people desecrated the land with a corpse. So from then on they may

bury their dead for all time. Some days later a man died. placed him on the gumere as

before. But he simply decayed and was rotten. Thus death entered the Kakwa tribe.

The Kakwa are an ethnic group of Nilotic origin residing in northwestern Uganda, South

Sudan, and northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are part of the Karo

people (East Africa), who also include the Bari, Pojulu, Mundari, Kuku and Nyangwara.

Their language is called Kutuk na Kakwa, Eastern Nilotic language. The economy

consists of cultivating corn, millet, potatoes, cassava, and cattle. Their region is booming

in business.

Former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was born into the Kakwa ethnic group. After Amin was

deposed in 1979, many Kakwa people were killed in revenge killings, causing others to

leave the area. However, they have now returned to their native areas in the West Nile

region of northern Uganda. The major cities of the Kakwa people are Yei and Morobo

districts (Republic of South Sudan), Koboko district (Uganda), Imgbokolo and Aba

(Congo). The Kakwa people some times refer to themselves as "Kakwa Saliya Musala", a

phrase they commonly use to denote their 'oneness' though they are in three different

















The Name, People and Myth On Origin

The Kakwa are one of the Bari-speaking people. There are 2 main traditions concerning

the origin of the Kakwa. One tradition asserts that the ancestor of the Kakwa was Yeki

who lived in the Karobe Hill in the area south of present Juba.

Yeki is said to have produced 7 sons; one of whom was fond of biting his brothers. For

this reason, Yeki is said to have nicknamed him ''Kakwan ji'' meaning bitter. The

descendants of Yeki are said to have adapted the plural term and called themselves


The second tradition claims that the Kakwa were originally known as ''Kui''. The Kui are

said to have been fierce fighters who inflicted heavy losses on their enemies. For this

reason, the Kui are said to have nicknamed themselves Kakwa because their fierce

attacks were like the bite of a tooth – probably the reason for teeth sharpening tradition.

Demography and Geography

The Kakwa live in Yei River County, central Equatoria. However, they extend into west

Nile District of Uganda and north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Domiciliation in different countries means that the Kakwa as a people have evolved

different customs and social values.







The Concept of God

Latukos believe that in the beginning God of the sky was very close to the people on the

earth. There was no need for the people to toil for their living. The great God provided

abundantly for every need of the people on earth He gave man authority to order anything

from heaven and it will be provided 'miraculously. They had absolute faith an confidence

in the God who loved them and cared for them. They therefore worshipped him as their


In order to receive the gifts from up above, the person will have to show his or her faith as

work. For example if a woman wanted to have flour to make bread, she will take one grain

of wheat and grind it and put it in a pot (called atobok) an leave it overnight. The next day

there will be enough flour to meet the needs of the family for the day. These gifts are

provided every day whether for necessities of life or desires of the heart. These were met

according to the riches in heave based on the spoken word and the act of faith. Faith with

corresponding act was the way of life.

However something happened at the time of Chief Mongore. Mongore was a tall, well built

man who was also one who called for rains. His food was. prepared by a group of young

men. They mixed food with their feet after washing it. It was then kept in the sun to cook.

The sun was only a few miles away at that time. However Chief Mortgore one day did not

share his food with anyone, even to those young men who prepared it. As a result the

heavens moved to a very great distance as it is today The .sun also moved away and the

heat it gave became insufficient to cook any food. People struggled for many years to get

alternate form of energy which was later offered as fire from heaven. Heaven ceased to





provide for the needs and the cordial fatherly relation with God was lost. People now had

to toil and struggle for their survival.






Lutuko hut

Lotuko hill settlement





Lotuko men's meeting enclosure

A small stone enclosure used as a men's squatting place, visited by the Seligmans in the

early part of 1922.

Lotuko funerary ritual object

A Lotuko mortuary ritual object, known as nametere. This particular one was made as a

reproduction for the Seligmans to record. The nametere is made after death to 'represent'

the deceased at a series of funerary ritual dances, after which it is destroyed by those

who made it. It is made from a bundle of dry grass wrapped in lengths of bamboo. The





Seligmans visited Lotuko country in the early part of 1922, and according to their diary

they travelled between these villages by bicycle.

Lotuko rain-maker

Lutuko homestead





The following article upholds my study from a personal point of view:


By: William Levi Ochan Ajjugo

When most people think of Judaism in black Africa, they think of the so-called Falashas,

Bet Israel, Ethiopian Jews who have kept the essentials of biblical Judaism despite being

isolated geographically from other Jews for thousands of years.

The Falashas are in fact the tip of the iceberg. Judaism came to Africa long before Islam

or even Christianity, itself an early arrival. Hebrews have been in Africa hundreds of

years before the exodus from Egypt. So influential was ancient Judaism in northern and

eastern Africa that anthropologists have devised a test to tell whether a given tribe or

people has Hebraic roots: It does so if males are circumcised at age of 1 or earlier.

I am from South Sudan, the largely Christian, African portion of the Sudan, which has

long been dominated by Arab Muslims to the north, in Khartoum. I am from a tribe called

the Madi, and while we did not retain Judaism as thoroughly as did the Falashas in

neighboring Ethiopia, I am amazed as I look back at how many of our customs seem to

have come from the Hebrew Scriptures.

Among Christians and non- Christians like, one G-d was worshipped. As in the Book of

Leviticus, blood sacrifices were offered or sins. The worst sins required the sacrifice of a

sheep, the ones below these a boat, and the "least" sins a chicken. A hereditary group of

elders or priests decided which to sacrifice, and presided over these and other


Dietary laws were practiced; certain animals were "unclean" and could not be eaten.

Ceremonial washing of hands was required when leaving home. Certain days of the year

were set apart as holy. On such days, all was pledged to the one G-d of the heavens who

forgave sins.

The Madi also use a ram's horn ("bilah") to call people together for various purposes. My

father, who was an hereditary elder, would often blow the bilah to gather the people

together for a ceremony or to discuss a matter of importance.





If a man died, his brother married his widow. This is in Leviticus, and also is imbedded in

Madi culture, as is the "kinsman-redeemer" custom found in the Book of Ruth in

connection with Boaz's marrying Ruth. In Ruth 4:7, it says that "in earlier times in Israel",

the redemption and transfer of property became final when one party took off his sandal

and gave it to the other. This is precisely what the Madi did when I was growing up.

In Deuteronomy 15:19, the children of Israel were commanded to set apart for the L-rd all

first-born males of their herds and flocks. None were to be put to work or, in the case of

sheep, shorn. Again, this is a Madi custom as well.

Many of these customs are also practiced by other tribes in the Sudan. One Madi

custom, though, is most striking in its obvious implication: All males are circumcised -- as

I was -- on the 8th day.

When I was growing up, I did not know that any of these were "Jewish" customs. It was

only when I began studying the Bible that the connection became clear. Most tribes who

practice these customs do not know that "Jewish" means; they only know that these are

the ways of their own forefathers.

Christian missionaries have long misinterpreted these "ways", especially missionaries

from denominations which de- emphasize the "Old" Testament. Many labeled groups like

Madi "pagan", "animist", or, incredibly, "without religion."

Today, the Islamic fundamentalists who rule the Sudan use similar terms to describe the

tribes of South Sudan, including the Madi. Unlike the Christian missionaries of the past,

however, the Islamicists know better. On more than one occasion, I was called "Jew" in a

disparaging way by Muslims when I was living in the Sudan.

The current Islamic regime in Sudan is waging a jihad -- a war of extermination -- against

the people and tribes of South Sudan. Almost 3 million of my people have been

butchered in a genocide that is worse than anything the world has seen since the

Holocaust. Those who know of this underreported slaughter rightly see it as religious in

nature -- a war of Islamic imperialism against largely Christian South Sudan. It is also a

cultural war of Arab- dominated culture against African culture. And part and parcel of

African culture -- at least in this area of Africa -- are the remnants of Judaism.

For those would would like to see such remnants preserved, here is yet another reason

to stand up for the brave people of South Sudan.





Collected Excerpts

from the South Sudan projects on the Internet

The Bible and Sudan

Excerpted from: The Bible or the Axe by William O’Levi of Operation Nehemiah, pp. 27-


In the very beginning, according to the Bible, God touched the heart of Africa. Cush, son

of Ham, made his home near the joining of the Blue and the White Nile Rivers sometime

after the great deluge—and long before the written history of man was first set to stone or

papyrus. But Cush was not the first to settle there. The second chapter of Genesis tells

us that this land inhabited by Noah’s grandson originally contained the western

boundaries of Eden. If that is the case, it is possible that Adam and Eve once walked in

Africa. Modern archeologists now have evidence suggesting that the first human beings

originated in Africa, lending scientific credence for the first time to her Edenic origins.

Certainly, in the days before the biblical flood, people had settled near the fertile river

valleys of the Nile system. The Bible says that the River Pishon encompassed all the

lands of “Havilah.” Havilah is the name of one of the sons of Cush, who probably settled

near his family of origin. Plentiful gold, bdellium, and onyx—minerals that have been

found along the banks of the river that the Romans later called the White Nile—enriched





this land. The River Gihon “compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia,” and most likely

refers to the Blue Nile. Although the names Pishon and Gihon have been lost in antiquity,

the biblical references strongly suggest that these Edenic rivers were indeed the same

rivers that flow through present-day Sudan.

Fertile ground and abundant resources in the Nile River valleys would have encouraged

antediluvian society to flourish in prehistoric times; and Cush’s progeny filled the region

after the flood. The land was, in a very real sense, a cradle of ancient civilization.

Cush provided Egypt with rich national resources such as gold, ivory, and human slaves.

By the year 1570 B.C., Cush was largely an Egyptian province.

Although this was a time of great wealth and culture, the Hamites and Cushites had all

but forgotten the Creator of God of their ancestor Noah. The pharaohs were revered as

gods during their lives, and their days were spent preparing for the journey to an afterlife

of their own creation.

The “apiru,” or Hebrew peoples, were Semitic tribes of “foreigners” who settled in northern

Africa sometimes around 1,500 B.C. to escape famine. At first, the nomadic tribesmen

were welcomed by the Egyptians, but as the Hebrews flourished, they became a threat to

the rule of the pharaohs. The Egyptian rulers responded to this threat with oppression

and slavery. But God intended all of this for good. The Hebrew peoples were eventually

delivered from bondage, and the laws and practice of the worship of Yahweh were finally

formalized and recorded. The stage was being set for the coming of the Messiah who

would be for all people. Africa figured prominently in the history of Israel and in the life of


The Nile River valley was very important in the ancient world. It provided a waterway

from the African interior to the Mediterranean Sea, providing contact with both Europe

and Asia. The proximity of her settlements to the Red Sea and thus the Sinai Peninsula

permitted regular interaction with the Middle East. Egypt, Greece, Rom, Syria, and

Arabia traded influence, wealth, and warfare with the prosperous kingdom of Cush.

By the eighth century B.C., Cushite wealth and power was great enough to eclipse that of

the Egyptian Pharaohs. In fact, the “Black Pharaohs” ruled both kingdoms for a time.

These Cushite pharaohs arose from the kingdom of Napata, which had been established

by King Pianki. This same kingdom extended uninterrupted into the era of the kingdoms

of Meroe and Makuria, and ultimately into the great Nubian Christian Kingdom.

The “Ethiopia” of Bible times extended from Aswan and the Nubian Desert in the north to

the region of modern-day Khartoum, Sudan in the south; and of course, it extended





eastward into the horn of Africa. Although the name of Cush is commonly associated with

what is now modern-day Sudan, sometimes the term “Ethiopia” was used to refer to the

entire area south of Egypt.

This cosmopolitan region was also home to Jews of the Diaspora and proselytes who

embraced monotheism. The Hebrews gained their name in Africa and have been a

continuous presence in that continent ever since. Waves of new Hebrew immigration

occurred after the Assyrian conquest of Israel in the eighth century B.C. and again after

the fall of Jerusalem some two hundred years later. There is evidence that Judean

priests migrated to the Aswan region of the Nile around the time of the destruction of

Solomon’s temple.

The Bible indicates that Christianity was originally received in the Land of Cush in the first

centure, AD. By this time, the Roman Empire exerted considerable control in the region.

The Book of Acts describes a meeting between the apostle Philip and a royal eunuch who

was returning home to Africa after a pilgrimage to the city of Jerusalem. The eunuch was

reading a messianic prophecy from the book of Isaiah when Philip explained its

meaning—and its fulfillment in the life of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Immediately, the

eunuch stopped his chariot and asked to be baptized in a nearby body of water.

“And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and

the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39 RSV).

It isn’t clear whether the Ethiopian eunuch was a Jew by birth or a proselyte, but the Holy

Spirit certainly chose him for a very unique encounter with God. He was an important

man—in charge of the treasury of Queen Candace. The title of “Candace” was given to

all the Queens of Ethiopia in those days. This eunuch would have been headed to the

capitol city of the kingdom of Meroe, located on the Nile River just north of the confluence

of the Blue and the White Niles, in the heart of present-day Sudan. No doubt this

influential man brought the good news of the Messiah back to the courts of Queen

Candace and to the synagogues of the region. Originally, the message of the Messiah

was taken only to Jewish groups, and they were the first Christians.

The first church, which is also referred to as the “Old Church,” or “Kanisa Ajuza,” in

Arabic, was born in Dunqulah, the capitol city of ancient Meroe. Tradition holds that many

of these very early believers were converted based on the testimony of the Ethiopian

eunuch. It is certain that they helped form the kernel that developed many years later into

the Nubian Christian Kingdom.

The new faith called Christianity spread quickly throughout northern Africa in the first

century AD. It was an African, Simon of Cyrene (modern-day Librya), who carried the





cross of Christ. There is some speculation that he was an important early convert to

Christianity. He may be the “Simon the Black” (Acts 13:1) who later laid hands on Paul

and Barnabas to commission them to bring the gospel to the world. By the end of the

second century A.D, the majority of northern Africa was Christian, producing such early

church fathers as Origen, Tertullian, and Augustine. It was Tertullian who was credited

with the famous quotation: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” He was

well acquainted with martyrdom, because the Romans at the time were killing African

Christians at an alarming rate. Despite persecution, the Church grew steadily over the

next three hundred years.

Eventually, Nubian royalty declared Christianity the “state” religion. The Nubian Cushite

kingdom was predominantly Christian from AD 350 until AD 1500, when Muslim

conquerors established Islam as the official religion. The Cushite Christians, famous for

their skills with the lance, had held off the Islamists since 649 AD, when the Arabs

conquered Egypt. They formed an uneasy truce with the Arabs for several centuries,

maintaining the peace with an annual tribute of slaves.

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Arab invasions hammered away at Christian

resistance, Great numbers of Nubians were killed or sold into slavery, and the remaining

Christians hid in remote areas without any communication with other Christians or the

world at large. African Hebrews were also increasingly isolated; some had retreated

during Nubian Christian rule and more sought remote haven as the Muslims advanced.

As the Nubians fled, Arab settlers claimed the land and converted church buildings into

mosques. The remaining Nubians were absorbed into the new culture through

intermarriage and conversion.

The Arabs changed the name of the land of Cush to “Sudan,” meaning “the land of the

Blacks.” Christians and Jews who refused to convert to Islam scattered into the African

interior. They ended up in Southern Sudan and parts of the modern Ethiopia, Libya, and

the horn of Africa, where they maintained their faith and their African heritage within tribal

groups. Finally, in approximately AD 1500, all traces of the Nubian Christian kingdom


In 1869, a British explorer, Sir Samuel Baker, made the first attempt via Egypt, Sudan,

and Uganda to explore the sources of the Nile. He reported to the British authorities

about his findings, which led to British interest in colonizing the Nile Valley and in ending

slavery there as well.

A coalition of Egyptian and British forces took control of the Sudan in the 1800s. Great

Britain was mainly concerned with the preservation of its interest in the Suez Canal, which

linked the English to their most valued colony, India. The British immediately saw the

problem of religious and ethnic conflict between the North and the South, and they set





about to stop it. During colonial rule, the North and South were strictly separated, and

Arabs were not allowed into the southern territories. Slave raiding was ended. It was

then that missionaries were sent into the South to establish schools, churches, and

medical clinics.

When European missionaries finally penetrated what they had in ignorance called “the

Dark Continent,” they found the fragile remnants of ancient African Christians and tribal

Jewry alive and well and living in the Sudan.

As the Europeans worked among previously isolated tribal groups, they found very pious

people—even though the influence of orthodoxy had been gone for centuries. Literacy

had faded, but oral tradition remained. Many of these people, descended from Christian

or Hebrew families, were very receptive to the gospel. After all, both Christianity and

Judaism had flourished in Africa hundreds of years before the message of the Church

had ever reached the remote and somewhat barbaric peoples of places like Great Britain.

The “new” message of the missionaries was already understood at some level by many of

the Sudanese.



“Cush will submit herself to God.” Psalm 68: 31

In the Bible, Sudan is referred to as Cush, Nubia and Ethiopia. Often when the Bible

mentions a place at the end of the world it would refer to Sudan (e.g.: Psalm 87:4).

2 Kings 19:1-9 and Isaiah 37:1-10 relate how one of the Cushite pharaohs, Tirhakah,

intervened to assist King Hezekiah when Israel was attacked by Sennacherib, the

emperor of Assyria.

Jeremiah 38:7-13 describes how a Sudanese official, Eben-Malech, helped save

Jeremiah from certain death when he had been thrown into a cistern. It was Eben-

Malech, the Cushite, that pulled Jeremiah the Prophet from the pit.

Nahum 3:9 describes how the Assyrians treated the Egyptian city of Thebes when the

Cushites were defeated.





Confusion About Cush

It is regrettable that so much confusion has been created by some Bible translators

rendering the Hebrew word Kush with the Greek word Aithiopia. Cush is identified in

Ezekiel 29:9-10 as the land south of Aswan, the southernmost border of Egypt, on the


Ezekiel 29:9-10 prophesies against Egypt: “Egypt will become a desolate wasteland.

Then they will know that I am the Lord. Because He said ‘the Nile is mine; I made

it’, therefore I am against you and against your streams and will make the land of

Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of


Migdol is in the North of Egypt, Aswan is the southernmost town, beyond which lies the

land of Cush. Similarly, in Psalm 68:31 Egypt and Cush are referred to as immediate


“Envoys will come from Egypt; Cush will submit herself to God.”

While Cush is a very specific term, for the people descended from Cush, the grandson of

Noah, and refers to the country immediately south of Egypt along the Nile, the Greek

work Aithiopia was a very vague term that the ancient Greeks used for any country to the

south of their known world. Aithiopia (which comes from the word Aithiops - meaning a

black face) was such a general term that the Greeks used it not only for anywhere in

Africa, but even India!

So, when the Greek translators in Alexandria, three centuries before Christ, were

translating the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, their using the vague term Ethiopia for

the specific Hebrew word Cush, sowed seeds of confusion. This confusion has been

compounded even more now that there is today a country called Ethiopia. But modern

day Ethiopia was known as Abyssynia (or Abessinia) until the Second World War, and in

the time of the Bible was referred to as Axum.

Envoys from Cush

The great prophesy on Cush in Isaiah 18 plainly refers to what we today know as Sudan.

“Woe to the land of wirring wings along the rivers of Cush, which sends envoys by

sea in papyrus boats over the water.” Isaiah 18:1-2

Sudan has been the land of Biblical plagues, where the locusts came down upon Egypt.

And Sudan has sent envoys on boats by water (down the Nile River or down the Red

Sea) to Jerusalem. This included Eben-Malech, who saved Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 38:7-13)

and the treasurer of Queen Candice (Acts 8:26-40).





The Ethiopian eunuch, the treasurer of Queen Candice who ruled Meroe (present day

Northern Sudan), had gone to Jerusalem to worship and on his way home was sitting in

his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah. The Spirit of the Lord led the deacon Phillip away

from the Revival in Samaria to this remote desert road to Gaza. Phillip ran up to the

chariot and heard the Cushite reading Isaiah the Prophet.

“Do you understand what you are reading?” he asked. “How can I, unless someone

guides me?” The Cushite asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the

Scripture which he was reading was: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as

a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation

His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is

taken from the earth.” Acts 8:32-33

The eunuch asked Phillip “of whom does the Prophet say this, of himself or some

other man?”

Then Phillip began at this Scripture to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ to him. And so, the

Ethiopian eunuch came back to the kingdom of Meroe, in Northern Sudan, not only with

the Book of Isaiah in his hands, but with Jesus Christ in his heart - a newly baptized

Christian convert. So the history of the church in Sudan begins in AD 37, in Acts chapter

8, with a portion of Scripture, the Book of Isaiah itself. (Axum, or what became Abyssinia,

received the Gospel from the Apostle Matthew, who was martyred there.)

The church in Sudan grew steadily, and in the third century many Egyptian Christians fled

to Sudan to escape the persecutions of the Roman emperors, Decius and Diocletain.

Strong Christian communities were flourishing in Philae from the early centuries. Crosses

and other Christian objects have been found in the royal tombs of Nubia dating back to

the 5th century.

Following the collapse of the kingdom of Meroe (in about AD 350) three smaller

kingdoms were established – Nubia, Makuria and Alwa. By the 6 th century, Christianity

had become the official religion of these Sudanese kingdoms. Archaeologists have

unearthed over a hundred churches dating back to this period in Nubia alone. Many of

these churches have elaborate Christian paintings on the walls.

A War Like People

“Go swift messengers, to a people tall and smooth skinned, to a people feared

far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech whose land is divided by

rivers.” Isaiah 18:2

The Sudanese are a tall people, a smooth skinned people, with a violent history. There

was a time when the Cushites conquered Egypt – which had been the superpower of its

day. To the Egyptians, Sudan was known as the land of Cush – the source of ivory,

incense, ebony, gold and slaves. Sudan was subjected to numerous Egyptian trading and

raiding forays until the 8th century BC. Then Cush grew to be a great power and, under





their king Piankhi, the Cushites conquered Egypt in 712 BC. The Assyrians later invaded

and seized Egypt from Cushite control

in 671 BC. The Romans invaded Northern Sudan in 23 BC. With 800 cavalry and 10,000

infantry, the Romans attacked the capital of Napata, but the Romans were forced to

withdraw in AD 297.

When the Islamic armies attacked Nubia in AD 643, the Nubians steadfastly resisted and

threw back the invaders. Again in AD 652 another Muslim offensive which sought to

conquer Nubia was defeated by the Christians. The Muslims were thrown back into

Egypt. From the time when the Cushites invaded Israel under King Asa, and when the

Cushites came to the support of King Hezekiah against the Assyrians, to the centuries of

resistance against Islamic invasion from Egypt, to the uprising of the Mahdi in the 19 th

century, to the fifty year civil war just ended, the Sudanese have proved to be exactly as

the Scriptures describe: “A people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation”

And Sudan is truly the “land divided by rivers.” The Nile, one of the greatest rivers in

the world, stretches the full length of Sudan. From the source of the White Nile in Lake

Victoria, it takes a drop of water four months to travel the over 4,000 kilometres to the

Mediterranean Sea. While present day Ethiopia is a mountainous and desert land, Sudan

is the land of Cush referred to in the Bible here in Isaiah 18. The Blue and White Nile and

their tributaries provide tremendous logistical challenges for missionaries and other

travelers to cross these phenomenal obstacles.

The Banner and Trumpet

“All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised

on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.”

Isaiah 18:3

The Scriptures declare that something of worldwide significance is going to happen in

Sudan. That all people on earth must take note of. What could possibly be of such

significance in this remote and vast country that Christians as far afield as Australia and

America, South Africa and Switzerland should pay attention to?

Sudan is the largest country in Africa and it has just emerged from the grip of the longest

war of the 20th century. Sudan contains the oldest community of Christians in Africa -

who have suffered some of the worst persecutions in the world. Yet the Christian church

in Sudan has been growing faster than anywhere else in Africa, with more Muslims

coming to Christ in Sudan than

almost anywhere else.

Sudan is in the 10-40 window, the most neglected and needy mission field on earth

(stretching from the 10th to the 40th degrees latitude in the Northern hemisphere.) In that





10-40 window stretching from the Atlantic across the Middle East and South Central Asia

to the Pacific, are over three billion non-Christians - the most needy and resistant mission

fields in the world. The final mission frontier.

In the Book of Nehemiah, when Jerusalem was under attack, the trumpet would sound

and rally the forces to concentrate on the threatened area.

“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated –

since you yourselves are in the Body also.” Hebrews 13:3

Africa’s Forgotten War

“This is what the Lord says to me: I will remain quiet and look on from My dwelling

place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the

heat of harvest.” Isaiah 18:4

For a long time Christians in Sudan felt alone and abandoned. “We are a hidden people

fighting a forgotten war”. It has been so important to let them know: You are not alone.

You are not forgotten. There are many who are praying and who care enough to have

sent us with these gifts for you.

A Harvest of Death

“For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a

ripening grape, He will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down

and take away the spreading branches. They will all be left to the mountain

birds of prey and to the wild animals; the birds will feed on them all summer,

the wild animals all winter.” Isaiah 18:5-6

The relentless scorched earth campaign of the National Islamic Front government, which

declared Jihad against the Christian South and the Nuba Mountains, brought tremendous

suffering. Bibles were banned, villages were burned, churches destroyed, pastors

crucified, livestock looted, crops burned, wells poisoned, children enslaved. At times the

death toll has been so great that there were not enough people left to bury the dead.

Vultures and scavengers did indeed feast on the slain in Sudan.

Revival Amidst Persecution

“At that time gifts would be brought to the Lord Almighty from a people tall and

smooth skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of

strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers – the gifts would be brought to

Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 18:7

There has been Revival amidst persecution in Sudan. Tremendous sacrifices have been

made. Like the Nuba Church in Kauda which, within a 12 month period, endured 18 aerial





bombardments from the Sudan Air Force. Yet the people continued to gather, and

overflow their church, for Sunday worship. The cathedral in Lui, the birthplace of

Christianity in Moruland, was bombed ten times. Three times the cathedral was

destroyed, yet each time rebuilt and restored and filled with joyful Christians bringing a

sacrifice of praise. Despite having arms amputated and feet axed off at the ankles,

Sudanese evangelists have continued to take the Gospel to their neighbours. The Lord

Jesus declared: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for

his friends.” John 15:13

Surviving and Thriving

The people of Cush have been submitting themselves to God. There has been

tremendous church growth in Southern Sudan. Some pastors have reported adding over

8,000 people to their churches in just three years. Numerous pastors have multiple

congregations to care for. The resilient Christians of Sudan have stood steadfast against

the onslaught of Islamic Jihad. They have been a bulwark holding up the southward

expansion of Islam in Africa. Straddling the Nile, these Christian tribes had frustrated the

ambitions of Islamic Jihadists in Khartoum. Not only has the church in Sudan survived the

furious fires of persecution, but they have thrived, even winning some of their enemies to


“From beyond the rivers of Cush My worshippers, My scattered people will

bring Me offerings.” Zephaniah 3:10

Legacy of Ngundeng

By Ruach Wal Yat



Nuer Religion: The Nuer word "Kuoth" Spirit means God. Nuers also speak of him more

definitely as Kuoth Nhial or Kuoth a nhial, which mean "Spirit of the Sky or Spirit who is in

the Sky." Nuer said that God is everywhere that he is 'like wind' and like air.' Nuers

consider God also the father of men in that he is protector and friend. He is "kuoth me jale

ke ji," meaning "God who walks with you, that is, who is present with you to anywhere that

you live or stay with. He is the friend of men who helps them in their troubles." Nuer said,

'Kuoth a thin' meaning "God is with you" wherever you fall into problem.





Discussion of Nuer religion is described clearly by Douglas Johnson's (1994) on Nuer

prophets saying, "Ngundeng Bong was born into a family Gaaleak earth-masters living

among the jikany at the end of the 1830s. His father Bong Can, came from Bull Nuer area

o the Bahr el- Ghazal to settle near a sister who had married into a Maleak family among

the Gaajok. Bong was welcomed as an earth-master, especially after his brother-in-law's

death. Bong's nephew personally handed his father's leopard-skin over to Bong. Bong

later died fighting the Dinka. The position of earth-master among Jikany was somewhat

different from that in the west. The Jikany, being a mixture of foreign groups, have to

earth-master lineages of their own (the dominant clan, the Gaatgankir provide the

guardians of the clan spear of Wiu). The masters of the Eastern Jikany are all Gaaleak,

originally from Bul. There were relatively few of them and there was very little competition

between them. Competition between masters thus did not greatly influence Ngundeng's

early career, but the need to overcome the limitations of the master's position in the social

structure of the east, and the need to increase his spiritual strength, were of greater

important. In his creation of a more powerful spiritual authority among the Eastern Nuer,

Ngundeng stressed many attributes of Divinity represented in the Dinka myth of Aiwel, the

first spear-master and the archetypical man of Divinity. The emblems and symbols of

Divinity were introduced over many years, but the ideas concerning a man of Divinity are

clearly expressed in the story of Ngundeng's birth as now told by his family." (-74).

Douglas Johnson (1994) also said, Ngundeng his name was claiming meaning "The Gift

of God" (Son of God) in Nuer Language. He was born around late 1830s. His father Bong

was originally from Bull-Nuer in Western Nuer, but by year later, he moved to Eastern

Jikany-Nuer bordering to Ethiopia. This is original area where Ngundeng was born.

Ngundeng was the only child of his mother, Nyayiel, who decide to move to Lou-Nuer

where the origin place she was born there. Ngundeng was conducted all miracle activities

in the area of Lou-Nuer, according to Douglas Johnson. Johnson conducted the issue, the

mother was given a birth to new born after she was barren for dozens of years and her

hair turned grey and reached menopause as she was very old. Nyayiel then left her

husband, Bong, in Eastern Jikany-Nuer, and lived with her parents' relatives in Lou-Nuer

until a dream came to her at night commanding her to go back to Bong. After few years,

she would give new born child, who was named Ngundeng meaning "Gift of God" or (Son

of God). Ngundeng was from the Nuer tribe in origin, and he built an immense earthen

pyramidal mound which was divine power for him. He claimed his prediction the future

and to purity his people, who saw in his person the present of Divinity. He and the many

other prophets were the central ritual experts and peacemakers of the Nuer and Dinka

peoples, concerned mostly with finding adequate land and pasturage in the everchanging

riverine environment of the southern Nile region and protected their drought,

and famine. The aimed of Ngundeng was to demonstrate his relation with the gods by

curing disease among people and cattle, intervening to ensure the fertility of women, and

preventing death, including death in battle.





Argument: I believed my past ancestor's historical rumors. Ngundeng was son of Gods

because he revealed some miracle things to the people in the late centuries. Now I

believe his predictions prophecies have already become true. Some elders recall that

Ngundeng's prophecy in his lifetime generation was foolish (duaar). His prediction is all

about future in the next generations. People called him liar (guan kaca). He would only

defend his words by saying that it was God who gave him the message and that God

could not lie, but the reason he delayed his prophecies is because people called him liar. I

believe Ngundeng is not a prophet, but he is a son of God. I think God sent him on earth

to help those who lived in south Sudan, who lived as poorest nations in order to brief and

address them all, with a strong message which might say that, there will be severe crisis

which will happen in the next coming generations' years. The cause of that crisis would

come in the future when Arabs will dominate your territory. The people did not agree with

him, because he had talked about the crisis in the future not crisis by that moment when

ancestors were alive. When Arabs came in Sudan to dominate southerners and control

government resources, and then people were realizing that, this is the statement crisis

proposal that was mentioned by Ngundeng in the past. After crisis occurred in Sudan,

people approved his words and respected his propaganda predictions because what he

had told to the people in the past had already been become true. What I believe so far,

Ngundeng was a son of God, and he could be worshiped like other religious in the world.

What I have believed from all his prophecies, he was God, not only for South Sudanese,

but also including all people in black African who cross the countries. Elder Nuer in

villages who were volunteered to educate people about legacy speech of divinity were

saying that, the prophet was a peace-maker decision among the black people from tribes,

for those who were among south Sudanese citizens at that time. Ngundeng's in his

lifetime witnessed peace among the Nuer and with their neighborliness. He is son of God

that must be worshiped by the people of south Sudanese. I believe the reason that people

were rejecting him was lack of educationally knowledgeable during past centuries, and

that is why people did not take action to beliefs the statement of divinity prophecies. I

believe the time will come, and people will follow his prophecies like other prophets in the





North America.

Copyright © 2011 SouthSudan.Net. All Rights Reserved.






Kuku, Bari in South Sudan

Introduction / History

The Kuku are a tribe from South Sudan. They belong to the Bari-speaking group which

includes Bari (Proper), Mundari, Pojulu Tribe, Kakwa, Nyangwara and Lulu'bö.

The Kuku people were part of a larger group known as Bari. There was a good deal of infighting

amongst the larger group and so they decided to spread out into places where

each group felt more comfortable. The Kuku was the group that decided to move south

and settle. There ae rain makers which are very famous in the tribe. After the first

Sudanese civil war in 1972, there was an agreement amongst groups in the south, and

prominent members of the Kuku joined South Sudan's leadership.

Where are they Located?

They inhabit the agricultural lands of Kajo Keji County in Central Equatoria State. Kajo-

Keji lies in the southernmost part of the South Sudan near the Uganda border district of


What are Their Lives Like?

They are chiefly a farming people relying on mixed farming. During the rainy season they

grow substantial food crops, mainly sorghum, (also known in South Sudan as dura)

maize, millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, and beans (loputu). In the dry season they

manage a small scale of cattle, goats and sheep herding. The Kuku are good

beekeepers. They also practice collective hunting during dry season. They go hunting

with arrows and bows. They also carry nets with them. The nets are very long and they

make a semicircle when the animals are inside. They close in fast sending the animal to

the net. The animal gets trapped and other hunters waiting will stab the animal and it


There are different types of dances performed by the Kuku tribe. Young members of the

tribe often do a rain dance when there is a drought. There are also dances of mourning

during funerals. Family members of the deceased abstain from dancing to show their

grief. After a bountiful harvest, the whole community gathers and dances to show their

happiness and thanks to the Spirits & God.

They make baskets from reeds and different long grasses that they obtain from the

landscape around them. They rarely use color for decoration in their tribe. Other

handicrafts include making containers from gourds or other big fruits and from animal






The Kuku are very fond of songs. They create songs for all kinds of subjects. Each and

every song expresses a certain intense feeling. Most of the songs are based on true

stories. For them, anything can be made into a song. While story-telling, the Kuku largely

use animals as characters in their stories. Elders are often the ones who tell these stories

to the children.

For housing, they get bamboo from the mountains for their roofing and thatch it with

reeds. The walls are made from Nile soil. To help keep the temperature cool inside. For

clothing today, they use modern Western clothing. Previously, they used fiber from trees

that is flattened out and then wrapped around their bodies. They also used animal skin as

clothing. They only used to cover the necessary parts of the body, like their mid-section.

They walked around barefoot all day. During special occasions, some of them wear a

cow tail on their wrists for style. Sometimes, they wear feathers on their heads. The

feathers come from a variety of birds, and the type or quantity worn shows status.

Earrings for women are made using excess pieces of scrap metal.

For body art, men have a choice to burn a scar onto their body in a design they desire.

Scarification is a personal choice and not an obligation. It is used as body decoration for

others to admire. Only men are allowed to do this practice.

Social Behavior

The Kuku play a game that is very similar to baseball. It is called wuri. It involves hitting a

hard fruit with a stick and running. The rules are exactly the same as baseball.

Elders play a game that they play on the ground. They make many indents and then use

rocks as characters in their games. The game is called 'soroo.'

Children stay away from elders as a sign of respect. They are not supposed to talk with

them at all. During some occasions, parents/adults will invite elders to come to their

home for dinner.

After or during good rains, the whole community comes together to celebrate. The same

can be said for harvests.

There are not strict working hours in Kuku society. People can take a break when they

desire and at anytime of the day.

The Kuku have a special drink called yawanatakbe. It is an alcoholic drink made from

sorghum. They eat foods like beans and meat everyday. Their first meal is usually at 7 in

the morning. There is no lunch, and then dinner is at 7 in the evening.





When a child is born, the community comes together and celebrates the new addition.

After a person has died, the people are always gloomy, especially the family. They bury

the deceased and then have a community meeting to bless the person and give him or

her a good life with the spirits and God. They bury after two or three days normally.This

ceremony lasts for about a week.

Social Structure

Men normally go hunting and farming during the day. Women spend most of the day

working at farming and other chores. The women come home one hour earlier than men

to start the fire for the food.

In the village, the highest respect goes to the elders, then male adults, followed by adult

women, and lastly, the children.

A person is viewed highly if he has a wealth of money or animals, or if he has many

children or wives. Others respect him because having a large family means that you have

enough wealth to care for a large number of people. The importance of a person in a

community is normally attributed to their wealth, how they have helped the community, or

their age.

For a spouse to be chosen it takes a very long time and there are a lot of procedures.

First, the groom's family goes to another community and finds a girl with a good

background and personality. If the groom has a bad reputation, he goes very far to find a

bride. Then the bride's family usually decides to go to the groom's village and find out

information about the groom's family, to learn about their status in the community. If the

family of the bride agrees, they are officially married. The girl would normally say yes to

show respect. In the old days, the girl does not have a say in who she wants to marry. If

the guy was rich, he could have any girl he wanted. If she resists, she is kidnapped by

the husband. Now, there has to be a yes on both sides for marriage.


A family unit in the tribe normally consisted of a husband and two wives with children.

Extended families live in separate housing. The average number of children is seven.

Wives could be as many as the husband desired, but it was limited by his ability to care

for them and provide the dowry. Since the arrival of Christianity, marriage has become

monogamous. The father is always the leader of the family, and if he is gone, the first

wife is then in charge of the family.

In the community, most decisions are made by the elders, and solutions depend on the

situation. If another group comes and raids or attacks their group, they will fight back to

get back what was lost. In some situations, all the elders will come together and discuss





on an appropriate solution. If a law is broken, the person that commits the crime must pay

an amount of animals to the family or tribe that was offended. If a person has commit

murder he must pay seven cows, four goats and five sheep. This will be given to the

family of the deceased.

Economic Base

The economy is almost entirely agricultural. Most live on farms in the village, but some

become artisans like blacksmiths or potters. Wealth is largely measured in the number of

animals. Other products that are made are spears, knives, gourds, drums, flutes &


Crops consist of maize, rice, millet and other grains. Most other items are normally

gathered from the bush. They also care for cattle, sheep, and goats. The people is also

trade in communities, but it usually done through barter.

What are Their Beliefs?

The Kuku agricultural lifestyle is reflected in their religious belief and practices. They

strongly believe that there is only one God and he lives somewhere above. In practice,

they believe that all happenings to a family, a clan or the whole tribe take place as a

result of their deeds. God, who is merciful and kind, speaks and acts to the people

through their ancestors. The word for God in Kuku language is Ngun and for man is

Nguto analyzed as Ngutu or separated into two words as Ngu tu. The word TU in Kuku

means Exact. Ngutu then gives the meaning of Exact image of God. Ngun is invisible and

therefore speaks and acts to the people in spirit. The Kuku people believe that Ngun

sends strong messages to the people through the spirits of their ancestors. The word for

Spirit in Kuku language is Mulokotyo. There are two types of spirits, Good spirits and Bad

spirits. Good spirits are called Muloko Lo'but and bad spirits are called Muloko Lorok.

Mulökö Lo'but speak and act to the people (grand children) by good messages of

blessings like saving members of the family, clan or the tribe from disastrous moments.

They bring sufficient rain at the right time of sowing food crops. Muloko Lorok do the

opposite. They speak and act with bad messages of punishment to the grand children,

like bringing sickness or even death to a family, clan or the tribe. They stop rain at the

time of sowing food crops. Under this influence Kuku have maintained a strong family

tree to keep them as close to Ngun (God). In Kuku belief, you can only receive the Grace

of God through your ancestral line, and that's if you have been doing good and follow

their teachings.

With the penetration of Christianity missionary activity into South Sudan, the Kuku

traditional belief and religious lifestyle have been replaced with many Western Christian






At first, the people of Kuku beliefs were pantheistic and often worshiped the Nile or a big

tree in their village. People would go to these places whenever there was a need and they

prayed to the rain God to give them water. Religion was not formal or important because

they wanted to believe in something that would help them. As time has passed, most

Kuku are Christians and now pray on a daily basis




Demography and Geography

The Kuku are found in southeastern part of central Equatoria. Their most important town

is Kajo-Keji. The Kuku number about 20,000-30,000 and a few of them are found in West

Nile District of Uganda.

Environment, Economy and Natural Resources

The physical environment of Kajo-Keji exhibits mountainous terrain with undulating

contours drained by a number of small perennial streams which cut deep meandering

valleys in which these streams flow. Rainfall is abundant.

The influence of weather and topography have shaped the socio-economic activities of

the Kuku. They are predominantly agrarian sometimes producing surplus product for the

market. The main crops are sorghum, maize, groundnuts, cassava, simsim, tobacco. The

Kuku also keep cattle. The proximity to Uganda has had tremendous impact and the

monetisation of Kuku economy.

Mythology and History

Oral tradition has it that Bari migrants - motivated by the desire for cultivable and grazing

land - ventured southward in the early decades of the 19th century. These migrants were

endowed with the powers for making rain. It was this small, but formidable group of the

Bari that claimed legitimacy to the land and in subsequent years became known as Kajo-

Keji. Over time, the Kuku population increased, and new generations of families, and

clans emerged. Consequently, the Kuku people criss-crossed the land, established farms





and carved out grazing lands. The Kuku lost their cattle to tsetse fly, thereby abandoning

animal husbandry as a full-time occupation and devoted much of their energies to



The Kuku speak Kuku tongue, which is a dialect of the Bari language.

The Bari-Speaking Tribes are clustered together in a linguistic pocket in the south and

southeast of the former Mongalla Province (Equatoria Province) which constituted part

of the Lado Enclave which was again remained the Equatoria Province, extending from

latitude 6° 5' down to latitude 3° 5', on both sides of the Nile and stretching to Aba,

over 150 miles from the Nile. The Bari live partly west, and mostly east of the River Nile,

between the Umma River and Mongalla; the Ponjulu and Nyepo between Loka and Yei;

the Kuku, south of the Pojulu.

Society, Social Events, Attitudes, Customs and Traditions

The Kuku society is built on social and moral values which emphasize on virtue, identity

and tradition that has inner meaning to their daily social life. Being predominantly

agrarian, the Kuku demonstrate a high sense of independence and very few social events

bring the people together. They however, have very stringent traditions and customs:


Marriage traditions and customs are very strict among the Kuku. They are exogamous

and marriage to blood relatives is forbidden. The Kuku pay 2 cows and a bull, 4 goats, 2

spears, a number of hoes and now, money in dowry. Once the dowry has been paid, the

bride is taken to the groom’s home in a ceremony. The bridesmaids stay with her for up to

10 days.

There is a practice of elopement with a lover if his proposal had been rejected. The Kuku

practice polygamy but each wife has her own quarters and the widows can be

appropriated by the elder son. Divorce is difficult when there are offsprings, but should it

happen for whatever reason the dowry is returned. Birth to twins brings sorrow because it

is viewed exceedingly as a bad omen which may entail the death of one of the parents.

Death and Burial Customs

The news of death is announced by loud wailing of women followed by the beating to a

sad tone of a drum and the performance of funeral dance in a war-like demonstration. A

bull is sacrificed. The burial takes place after 24 hours. Before the entombment, the

widow or widower is led to the nearby stream and kept there until the burial has been





completed. The body is laid with the head facing eastwards. The widow is led out of the

house by the wife of the blacksmith to the adjacent stream and has her head shaved. She

is stripped of all ornaments


10 days after birth, the male son is named after his grandfather but the female gets the

name of her father’s grandmother. The second son is given the name of the mother’s

grandfather and so on. The child may have pet-names and nicknames.

Truth Telling

The Kuku are very particular about telling the truth (kuye). Particularly, for the people in

position of authority no matter the circumstances. It is performed by holding two long

sticks while speaking out the truth.


This used to be an infamous custom among the Kuku for human poisoning by

administering snake poison. This custom is disappearing although in some remote areas

it is still being practiced.

Socio-Political Organisation and Traditional Authority

Kuku society is ruled by several independent chieftains assisted by a number of subchiefs

and clan elders. The chief exercises administrative, political as well as spiritual

powers of rain-making.

Spirituality, Beliefs and Customs

The Kuku believe that a human being is made up of a mortal body and immortal soul.

After death, the soul is liberated and continues to exist in a sphere in which, it directly

associates and communicates with God (Ngukaitait) but communicates with living

relatives by causing them to be sick - in default of necessary sacrifices.

A miniature house is therefore built for the spirits in every homestead where the living

communicate with their departed ones. The Kuku believe that the souls of neighbours

exchange visits whenever there is a ritual sacrifice in the neighbours house. The Kuku

believe in the spiritual powers of mediums or medicine men or women (kujur), who wield

much respect among the people on account of their mysterious communication with God

(Ngukaitait). On setting out on a mission of doubtful result, the Kuku would make a rope

of green grass and bury it under a stone beside the road as a sign of good omen for the






Culture: Arts, Music, Literature and Handicraft

Kuku culture like that of other communities is essentially oral and is transmitted from

generation to generation through song, dance, music and folklore which exalts virtue,

identity and a sense of independence and self-reliance.

The Kuku have advanced arts and exhibit enormous skills in iron-smelting and production

of iron implements (bows and arrows, hoes, spears), canoe-building. This has greatly

improved their methods of land tilting, hunting (trapping of leopards, hunting elephants)

and fishing practices.

Any Kuku male who exhibits unique skills or expertise in hunting, fishing, canoe-making,

and iron-smelting and manufacture of iron implements was referred to as blacksmith or

''''tumunit'''' (singular) or ''''tomonok'''' (plural). Indeed, there were men in the Kuku society

who had the unique skills of killing elephants, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus. They

specialized in making snares or nets for trapping wild animals.

Neighbours and Foreign Relations and Co-operation

The Kuku neighbour Bari, Nyepo, Kakwa, Pöjulu, Madi and Lugbwara. The Kuku high

sense of self-identity and success shaped their relations with neighbours and foreigners.

The Kuku co-operate with other people as far as there is mutual trust and respect. They

are known to boycott people or goods from people who may have mistreated them such

the boycott of Arab merchandise or Dinka butcheries in Kajo-Keji.

Latest Developments

Kajo-Keji, the Kuku main town used to be part of Yei River Administration. It has been

separated and made an independent administrative unit. Kajo-Keji was liberated in 1997

and this event witnessed the return to their homes of many Kuku people who had hitherto

lived as refugees in Uganda.


As a result of the long running civil war, many Kuku people have migrated and settled in

West Nile District of Uganda. Some have travelled further a field into other parts of

Uganda, East Africa and the rest of the world.

Further Reading

Regib Yunis, ‘Notes on the Kuku and other minor tribes inhabiting Kajo-Keji District,

Mongalla province.’ SNR VII (1) 1936 pp 1- 41

Scopas S. Poggo, ‘The Origins and Culture of Blacksmiths in the Kuku Society of the

Sudan.’ Paper presented at Hawaii International Conference on the Arts and Humanities.

Honolulu, Hawaii, January 8-11, 2004.





Israeli -South Sudan Relation

South Sudan, world’s youngest nation, develops unlikely friendship with Israel

This entry was posted on May 18, 2012,

By Armin Rosen· JUBA, South Sudan (JTA)

This city in the world’s newest country is not your typical Arabic-speaking capital

For one thing, most of the city’s inhabitants are Christian. For another, the Israeli flag is

ubiquitous here.

Miniature Israeli flags hang from car windshields and flutter at roadside stalls, and at the

Juba souk in the city’s downtown, you can buy lapel pins with the Israeli flag alongside its

black, red and green South Sudanese counterpart.

“I love Israel,” said Joseph Lago, who sells pens, chewing gum and phone cards at a

small wooden stall decorated with Israeli and South Sudanese flags. “They are people of






James Lago, a street merchant in Juba, South Sudan, with the Israeli flag. (Armin Rosen)

Many South Sudanese are not just pro-Israel but proudly and openly so. There’s a Juba

neighborhood called Jerusalem. A hotel near the airport is called the Shalom.

Perhaps most notable, South Sudan’s fondness for Israel extends to the diplomatic

arena, where the two countries have been building strategic ties in a relationship that

long preceded the founding of South Sudan last July.

“They see in us kind of a role model in how a small nation surrounded by enemies can

survive and prosper, and they would like to imitate that,” Haim Koren, the incoming Israeli

ambassador to South Sudan, told JTA.

South Sudan was created last year when its residents voted to secede from Sudan, a

country with a Muslim majority and without diplomatic ties to Israel. The government in

Khartoum accepted the secession, but in recent weeks a long-simmering dispute over oil

revenues and borders has brought the two Sudans to the brink of all-out war.

With Sudan having often served as a safe haven for enemies of Israel and the West, the

South Sudanese and Israel have had a common adversary......

The first contact between militants from southern Sudan and the Israeli government was

in 1967, when a commander with the Anyana Sudanese rebel movement wrote to then-

Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. The officer explained that his militants were fighting on

Sudan’s southern flank, and that with some help, the Anyana could keep Israel’s enemies

bogged down and distracted.

According to James Mulla, the director of Voices of Sudan, a coalition of U.S.-based

Sudanese-interest organizations, Israel’s support proved pivotal to the Anyana’s success

during the first Sudanese civil war, which ended in 1972.

“Israel was the only country that helped the rebels in South Sudan,” Mulla told JTA. “They

provided advisers to the Anyana, which is one reason why the government of Sudan

wanted to sign a peace agreement. They wanted to finish the Anyana movement just

shortly before they got training and advice.”

Over the years, there have been reports of the Israelis continuing to aid South Sudanese

rebels during Sudan’s second civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2005 and resulted in

an estimated 1.5 million to 2.5 million deaths.

Angelos Agok, a US-based activist and a 13-year veteran in the Sudanese People’s

Liberation Movement, recalls that the SPLM’s ties to Israel were kept discrete........





Agok said SPLA leaders traveled to Israel for training. The Israeli government declined to

comment on the subject.....

Israel already has a small presence in the country in the form of IsraAid, an Israeli NGO

coalition. In March, an IsraAid delegation helped South Sudan set up its Ministry of Social

Development, which will provide social work-related services for a population traumatized

by decades of war.

“Whenever you say you’re from Israel, they’ll open you the door,” said Ophelie Namiech,

the head of the Israeli delegation. “When we say we’re Israeli, the trust has already been


Israel has struggled with how to handle the migrants and differentiating between those

who came seeking refuge from violence and those who came in search of economic




Israel and South Sudan share no borders. The distance between their capital cities Tel

Aviv and Juba is more than 3,000 kilometres. The two countries do not have any real

cultural, religious or ethnic links either.

And yet, Israel was one of the first countries in the world to recognise South Sudan’s

independence earlier this year. In September, Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan,

and Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, met at the sideline of the United

Nations general assembly. This week, Kiir has made an official visit to Israel.





South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres in East al-

Quds (Jerusalem) on December 20, 2011.

What explains this close yet discreet relationship?

Both sides described Kiir’s trip to Israel as a historic visit, and it reveals the strength of

the relationship between Tel Aviv and Juba. Shimon Peres, the Israeli president,

described it as a defining moment in the history of the Middle East.

Both sides have also agreed to boost their co-operation in all fields. Israel’s foothold in

South Sudan is significant, as it continues its efforts to build a Christian alliance in Africa

to fend off Arab influence and the growing Islamic trends there.

Observers say Israel has found fertile soil in Africa’s military conflicts to market its

weapons industry and gain influence. But Israeli ties to Sudan’s southern region go back

to the 1960s, when it offered aid and training to the rebels fighting the northern

government. In that context, it is not surprising that it took less than 24 hours for Israel to

recognise the newborn Republic of South Sudan this year.

An Israeli ambassador is due to arrive in Juba in the near future, but in a sign of just how

deep the ties between the two countries are, Kiir recently told a senior member of Israel’s

ruling Likud party that South Sudan would be one of a handful of countries to establish an

embassy in Jerusalem, despite the city’s disputed status with regards Palestine’s claim.

So should Israel’s neighbours be worried about its ties with South Sudan? And what

interest would Israel have in building another foothold in East Africa?





By Al-Jazeera,



South Sudanese Christians plan "prophesied" pilgrimage to Israel

February 24, 2012 (JUBA) – Christians in South Sudan are planning a pilgrimage to

Israel in fulfillment of what they say was God’s promise in the Bible to the people of the

region, senior Church leaders have announced.

FILE - A Bishop stands in front of the altar during Easter Sunday service at

Episcopal Church of the Sudan Diocese of Khartoum All Saints Cathedral in

Khartoum April 24, 2011 (Reuters)

Spiritual leaders from various Christian denominations in South Sudan on Thursday

presented a plan for the trip to South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar, which was

later broadcast on South Sudan television and radio.

If it goes ahead, the pilgrimage will see see hundreds of South Sudanese Christians,

particularly senior church leaders, traveling to the Holy Land and presenting gifts on

Mount Zion in the next few months.





According to a statement from the Vice President’s Press Secretary, James Gatdet Dak,

the Church leaders in the meeting explained to Machar the significance of the pilgrimage

which they said was promised by God in the Bible by the Prophet Isaiah more than 3,000

years ago.

The Church leaders presented their case based on Isaiah Chapter 18, with the title “God

Will Punish Sudan” according to the ‘Good News Bible’ translation from Hebrew into

English or “Prophecy Against Cush” according to the ‘New International Version.’

Many South Sudanese Christians believe that verse 3 of Isaiah 18 refers to South Sudan:

“All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the

mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.”

The prophecy continues in verse 7: “At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty

from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive

nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers – the gifts will be brought to

Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.”

The spiritual leaders told the Vice President that the independence of South Sudan, on 9

July 2011 as part of a peace deal with north Sudan, was foreseen and promised by God.

They argued that the raising of the "banner" refers to the South Sudanese flag being

raised, signalling the country becoming the world’s newest country. South Sudan is the

193rd member of the United Nations and Africa’s 54th country.

The Church leaders said that the blowing of the "trumpet" was also fulfilled by the singing

of South Sudan’s national anthem, which was created last year.

As the whole world was able to watch the historic event on television and through the

media, the religious leaders said that this also completed the prophecy in Isaiah that the

"whole world" would witness the event.

South Sudan’s independence came after decades of conflict since the end of Anglo-

Egyptian rule in 1956.

The attempted imposition of Islamic Shari’a Law on South Sudan, was one of the many

triggers for Sudan’s second civil war, which between 1983 and 2005 resulted in the

deaths of around two million people.

However, to view the conflict as a religious one is misleading to most historians as it

neglects to consider a host of other factors; the historical economic and political

marginalisation of South Sudan; the "African" south’s resistance to Arabisation; the failure

to implement a previous peace deal; and disputes over the division of resources including

Nile water and latterly oil; to name a few.





South Sudan is a multireligious society with a large number of the population following

traditional African belief systems, as well as Christianity and Islam. The new government

of South Sudan, says it has, adopted a policy of religious freedom and tolerance.

Despite the fact that over 95% of South Sudan’s top leadership are Christians, the

government says it encourages Muslims to freely carryout their pilgrimages to Islamic

Holy places, such as Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The government also organised a historical event two years ago to receive a nearly 150

year old rod or ‘dang’ of a leading South Sudanese traditional spiritual leader from the

Nuer tribe, popularly known as Prophet Ngundeng Bong.

The Nuer believe that Ngundeng, who died in 1906, predicted South Sudan’s wars with

various Khartoum governments and the country’s eventual independence.

His ‘dang’ was stolen by the British colonial administration in 1928 22 years after his

death at his headquarters in what is now Jonglei state. It was returned to South Sudan on

16 May 2009.

The Church leaders discussed with the Vice President the type of gifts that could be

selected and taken to the Mount Zion and requested that government finance the

transportation of the pilgrims to Israel.

South Sudan has vowed to establish an embassy in Jerusalem and not Tel Aviv. Its

relations with Israel have angered north Sudan and some other members of the Arab

League, which blame Israel for aiding the break up of one their members.

Despite its largely African identity South Sudan has the option to join the Arab League

because it seceded from a Sudan, a member of the ethnically based organisation



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