Cultural Groups of the Southern Sudan
This page provides brief notes on the major cultural groups of the Southern Sudan represented in the collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum.
The names below link to the relevant collections.
Linguistic group of northern Uganda and southern Sudan. Numbering about 820,000 in the late 20th century, they speak a Western Nilotic language of the Eastern Sudanic subbranch of the Chari-Nile branch of the Nilo-Saharan family and are culturally and historically related to their neighbours the Lango.
Atuot or Atwot is the Dinka name for the Thok Cieng Reel, or Reel language group, most of whom are culturally close to the Dinka or Nuer with whom they share grazing land.
There were considered to be some 420,000 Bari-speakers in 2000. Bari-speaking communities live either side of the Nile south of Terakeka in Bahr-el-Jebel region. There are a number of Bari dialects.
Bongo is a Central Sudanic Nilo-Saharan language. The Bongo live over a large but sparsely populated area in Bahr-el-Ghazal, reaching from Tonj and Wau in the north, the Beli to the east, the Zande to the south, and the Bor to the west.
Burun communities live in Blue Nile Province. Burun is an Eastern Sudanic Nilo-Saharan language and there are a number of dialects and cultural sections.
The Dinka are the largest language group of southern Sudan, living over a large area mostly to the west of the Nile where they graze their cattle on the floodplains.
Mandari is related to Bari, and both groups live either side of the Nile around Terakeka. The western Mandari live as far west as Tali Post, and are culturally mixed with the Dinka and Atuot groups they live nearby.
The Nuer, one of the largest Nilotic language groups, live mostly in Jonglei, with dry season cattle camps along the Nile and the Sobat Rivers as well as other river courses.
The Shilluk live in Upper Nile Province between Nile and Kordofan Province boundary, from Latitude 11 in the north to about 80 miles west of Tonga; also on the east bank of the Nile around the junction of the Nile and Sobat rivers, and for about 20 miles up the Sobat River.
The Zande language is part of the Niger-Congo group which differentiates them from most of the Nilo-Saharan groups in southern Sudan. Zande groups are found in both Western Equatoria region of Sudan, northeastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Central African Republic.