The Toposa are a group of people mainly located in the semi-arid regions of Southern Sudan. Just like all African tribes, the Toposa have their unique cultural rituals and norms that differentiate them from other tribes. As a result of this, therefore, there are a good number of fascinating facts about this group of people.
The Toposa are agro-pastoral living in very complex house structures that are constructed closely together to make a village and do not count the people. Their religion is centered on believing in one supreme being and the ancestors, and they belong to the Ateker group of tribes.
The main economic activity among the Toposa revolves around the herding of cattle and the keeping of livestock. Some examples of the cattle in the Toposa herd include camels, sheep, donkeys, and goats among others. Here are other fascinating facts about this ethnic group of people.
1. The Toposa Live In Stunning, Well Organized Villages
Toposa villages are one of the most organized villages when compared with the other African tribes. There are three main places where the Toposa have settled villages in South Sudan. These areas are namely Kapoeta, Narus, and Riwoto.
A Toposa village comprises well-built house structures that are systematically arranged following a certain pattern, and with different kinds of houses. Some of their houses are meant for a dry season while others are for a rainy season, therefore they regularly change depending on the season.
2. The Toposa Abhor Circumcision
Circumcision rite among the Toposa is an act that is highly disregarded, unlike in all the other African tribes that strongly value the act. The individual members that have already undergone the act of circumcision are highly despised by the whole community.
Unlike all tribes where the boys at the teenage level are taught how to become responsible people in the community awaiting circumcision, the young males among the Toposa are taught how to herd by being grouped into several age sets.
3. They Believe In A Supreme Being And Their Ancestors
Every tribe has its religion on which its beliefs are centered. The Toposa, for example, highly embrace Christianity as their religion and at the same time worship their ancestral spirits when in time of any need. They believe that they originally lived in heaven with their god but later on dropped down to the earth and were separated from heaven.
The name given to the supreme being that the Toposa believe to be their god is “Nakwuge”, whom they believe once lived in the sky with them before they were separated. The Toposa believe that the supreme being and their ancestors are there to assist during times of drought or epidemics. They also believe that they protect their herds of cattle against dangerous diseases, as cattle are very important to their daily lives.
Some of the other purposes of the supreme being that the Toposa believe in are controlling life, giving good health to them, and guarding their cattle. The offering of sacrifices to their god and the ancestral spirits is also common among the Toposa and it is done at specific holy places. It is at the same place where these people offer their petitions in the form of prayers or as a way to communicate with their god.
4. The Toposa Belong To A Cluster Of Tribes Known As Ateker
The Toposa people are part of an ethnic group of several tribes known as the Ateker. Ateker is a term that is used to describe a certain group of people that are closely related in one aspect or the other and that share a common set of norms and values. The Ateker group can also be called the Karamojong group or cluster of people.
Other tribes belong to the Ateker group. These tribes are namely the Maa, the Teso, the Turkana, Jie, and the Lango, and are mostly found in parts of Kenya and Uganda. Most of the tribes that are categorized among the Ateker are Nilotic-speaking groups.
Other examples of groups belonging to the Ateker cluster:
- The Dodo
- The Jiye
- The Nyangatom
As earlier mentioned, they have a similar way of life and have related political systems and closely linked economic activities. For example, the Turkana practice crop farming, and at the same time they rear livestock, and this reflects in not only all the Ateker tribes but also in the tribes that neighbor them.
5. The Toposa Practice A Mixed Form Of Agriculture
Farming among the Toposa involves two main activities which are the growing of crops and rearing of livestock. As a general rule, they can simply be termed as an agro-pastoral group of people.
The main economic activity for them is the keeping of livestock which has been there since their earlier migration. For this reason, therefore, they migrate from one place to another following the change in seasons looking for pastures and water for their livestock. Some of the crops that the Toposa grow include sorghum and millet just to mention a few. To add to this, they keep animals such as donkeys, goats, camels, sheep, and goats.
With cattle keeping, they also incorporate the act of animal husbandry. According to them, animals have more prestige than the crops they cultivate and this explains why the boys are first taught how to look after the sheep and goats at an early age. The animals are also used for various purposes such as producing animal products that are useful in certain ways. They obtain meat, milk, blood, and skin, which is used to make leather products.
Additional Fascinating Facts About The Toposa:
Here are other interesting facts that you would like to know about the Toposa.
- All persons, be it male or female, undergo body decoration where they are tattooed on their bodies leaving body marks. The body marks applied to the men are different from the ones on the females.
- They have a clothing and dancing ceremony after the end of a certain period.
- They were once involved in the ivory trade.
- They are believed to have migrated from the Losoila Mountains found in Uganda.
- They regularly migrate in search of water and pasture for their livestock.
- They are one of the largest groups in South Sudan.
- They speak a similar language to Turkana and share the same cultures.