The Dinka people
By Casper Hedberg – After 25 years of civil war, the Dinka people are now back to normal life in South Sudan. A way of life that hasn’t changed much since ancient time. South Sudan offers the last vast grassland in Africa were herders still find plenty of space to move about; for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers both east and west of the Nile banks.
The Dinka tribe is the largest tribe in South Sudan with around 2,5 million people. The Dinka clans are living on the edges of the Sudd, the big swamp and wetland formed by the Nile river. It’s a life settled around cattle. They drink their milk, they worship them, they call them by names and they wash their faces and bodies with cattle urine. Cattle’s are killed only at very special occasions, like weddings, or if the animal is sick. In the dry season they herd their cattle into the grassland, in the rain season they start to herd them back from the floodplains to higher grounds.
There is plenty of fish in the Sudd and one traditional way of living for the Dinka people is the life as fishermen. Dinka fishermen use dugout canoes and mostly fish with nets but also with spears. But most of the Dinkas are living with their cattle’s as half nomads. The herders and their families live with their cattle together with other Dinka families and forms huge cattle camps that often consists of a couple of 100 people and even more cattle’s. Every morning the animals are released and go away to pasture. In the late afternoon the cattle’s returns back to the camps by them selves. They miss their home and want to be milked. There are always dung fires against flies in the camp so a fine layer of white ash is everywhere and the wind blows curtains of ash all around the place.