Dinka

From Academic Kids

The Dinka are a people of southern Sudan, inhabiting the swamplands of the Bahr el Ghazal region of the Nile basin. They are chiefly a pastoral people, relying on cattle herding at riverside camps in the dry season to growing millet in fixed settlements during the rainy season. They number around 1-2 million people, constituting about 12% of the population of the entire country, making them the largest Ethnic tribe in Sudan. They are a black African people, differing markedly from the Arab tribes inhabiting northern Sudan; they are noted for their height, often reaching as much as seven feet. Their women are famously beautiful and were as slaves for many years, with Dinka women being sold to Arabia until as late as the 1960s (and later, by some accounts). Among well-known Dinka are supermodel Alek Wek; former NBA player Manute Bol, one of the two tallest players in the league's history; current NBA player Luol Deng, Daniel Deng[1] (http://www.danieldeng.com), the founder and CEO of the Daniel Deng Nonprofit Consulting and Development Corporation (Fiscal Sponsorships and Financial Management).

The Dinka have no centralised political authority or social structure, instead comprising of many independent but interlinked clans. Certain of those clans traditionally provide ritual chiefs, known as the "masters of the fishing spear", who provide leadership for the entire people.

Their language - also called Dinka, or "thuong jang" - is one of the Nilotic family of languages, belonging to the Chari-Nile branch of the Nilo-Saharan family. The name means "people" in the Dinka language. It is written using the Latin alphabet with a few additions:

A/a / B/b C/c D/d Dh/dh E/e / Ɛ/ɛ Ɛ̈/ɛ̈ G/g Ɣ/ɣ I/i / K/k L/l M/m N/n Nh/nh Ny/ny Ŋ/ŋ O/o / Ɔ/ɔ Ɔ̈/ɔ̈ P/p R/r T/t Th/th U/u W/w Y/y

The Dinka's pastoral lifestyle is reflected in their religious beliefs and practices, which are animist in character. They have one god, Nhialic ("Sky"), who speaks through spirits which take temporary possession of individuals in order to speak through them. The sacrificing of oxen by the "masters of the fishing spear" is a central component of the Dinka. Age is an important factor in Dinka culture, with young men being inducted into adulthood through an initiation ordeal.

The Dinka's religious beliefs and lifestyle have led to conflict with the Islamic fundamentalist government in Khartoum. The Sudanese People's Liberation Army, which is led by John Garang, a Dinka, took up arms against the government in 1982. During the subsequent 21-year civil war, which continues to this day (2004), many thousands of Dinka were massacred by government forces and hundreds of thousands more were forced from their homes. The Dinka have also engaged in a separate civil war with the Nuer.

References

de:Dinka

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