Monday, November 30, 2009

Sudan, History (contd-8)

Dinka Model Alek Wek, Dinka author and abolitionist, Frncis Bok

Dinka is tribe in south Sudan. Southern Sudan has been described as "a large basin gently sloping northward", through which flow the Barh el Jebel River (the white Nile), the Barh el Ghazal river anditstributaries, and the Sobat, all merging into into vast barrier swamp. The Dinkas are exceptionally black and tall.
The Vast Sudanese oil areas to the south and east are part of the flood plain, a basin in the southern Sudan into which the rivers of Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia drain off from an iron stone plateau that belts the regions of Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile.
The terrain can be diveded into four land classes :
1. Highlands - higher than the surrounding plains by only a few cms.; are the sites for "permanent settlements ."Vegetation consists of open thorn woodlands and or open mixed woodland with grasses.
2. Intermediate lands : lie slightly below the highlands , commonly subject to flooding from heavy rainfall in the Ethiopian and east/central African highlands; Vegetation is mostly open perrinial grassland with some acacia woodland and other sparesly distributed trees.
3. Toic; land seasonally inundated or saturated by the main rivers and inland water courses, retaining enough moisture throuout the dry season to support cattle grazing.
4. Sudd; - permenent swampland below the level of the toic ; covers a substatial part of the floodplain in which the Dinka reside; provides good fishing but is not available for livestock; historically it has been a physical barrier to outsiders' penetration.
Ecology of large basin is unique ; until recently , wild animals and birds flourished, hunted rarely by the agro-pastoralists.
An example of rainy season temporary settlement. Note the stilts upon which the huts are builtto protect against periodic flooding of the region
The Dinkas usually migrate depending on the climate of the place, its flooding time and dryness of the area. they begin moving around may-juneat the beginning of the rainy season to their "permanent settlements " of mud and thatch housing above flood level where they plant their crops of millet and other grain products.At this time they also creat permanent structure of their cattle byers and granaries. during dryseason , Dec.-jan. every one except he aged and deceased migrate to semi-permanent dwellings in the toic for cattle grazing.
The cultivation of sorghum, millet, and other crops begins when the rains are heavy in June-Aug. Cattle are driven to the toic in Sept. and Nov. when the rainfall drops off; allowed to graze on harvested stalks of the cops.
An example of dry seasn site dwellings. Note the conical roofs that are indicative of these Dinka residences
Religious behavour:
The Dinkas have one god, Nhialic, whospeaks through spirits that take temporary possession of an individual in order to speak through him. The sacrificing of oxen by themasters of the "fishing spear " is a central component of the Dinka.
Age is an important factor . Young men being inducted into adulthood through an intiation ordeal which includes marking the forehead with a sharp object. Also during this ceremony they acquire a second cow-colour name.
Following the war most of the Dinka practice Christianity, over 75 5 and a lot during the civil war.
An example of a cattle byre. Note the immense size of the structure, indicative of a large investment in resources and labor that would only be found in a more permanent settlement