Who Are The Dinka People?

People living in Africa come from different language groups and even ethnic groups which are spread out in Africa. One such ethnic group is the Dinka.

The Dinka people are a Nilotic group of people who live in South Sudan mostly along the River Nile in the areas of Bahr-el-Ghazal, Upper Nile and Abyei.

Dinka Man
Dinka Man

The Dinka are a unique group of people. Read on to discover more about them.

How Many Dinka People Are There?

There are approximately 4.5 million people from the Dinka tribe today in South Sudan.

The Dinka people are the ones who are the largest tribe in South Sudan. With this high population, the Dinka make up about 18 % of the entire population in South Sudan. When considering men and women and the Dinka tribe the men are seen to be less than the women. This is mainly due to conflicts where men die when protecting the community from enemies. It can also be due to inadequate nutrition due to less food available.

Not only are the Dinka found in South Sudan but they are also found in other countries abroad. Due to upheavals in the communities, some of the Dinka found themselves being refugees in foreign nations. There are some books which have been written to describe these incidents such as ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’ which is written by Megan Mylan.

The Dinka community is divided into various clans which are individualistic. These different clans are linked together instead of having one supreme leadership.

Where Do The Dinka People Live?

The Dinka live in the Republic of South Africa around the basins of the River Nile.

Due to their large numbers, the Dinka people are divided into different groups which speak different languages. However, in the face of a common enemy, they come together and face the enemy as one. The different linguistic groups of the Dinka include Agar, Aliab and Bor. The Dinka people have large herds of cattle which makes them pastoralists. They move their cattle to the riverine area when it’s dry and when it changes and becomes dry they move them to the savanna forests. The Dinka also practise crop cultivation in the areas they have settled permanently. Their main food crop is millet.

The Dinka are largely integrated into their religious life. They believe in a supreme god called Nhial who guides them in their daily life. They also have religious leaders who mediate between them and their ancestral spirits and offer sacrifices.

What Are The Dinka People Known For?

Each community has its aspects which distinguish it from the other people and make it famous.  Some of these cultures are not known by many people. Read on to discover what makes the Dinka so famous.

The Dinka people are very tall. Scientifically, it is a person’s genetic composition which determines the height to which a person will grow. The Dinka people are famous for being the tallest people not only in the world but also in the world. Since basketball players are normally very tall, the Dinka are also called ‘the tribe of basketball’. The Dinka men have a standard height of about 182.6 cm while the women have a standard height of 181.3 cm. This makes the men slightly taller than the women. The tallest player in the field of NBA happens to be from the Dinka community which explains that the Dinka are very tall. The extent of this tallness can be attributed to their mode of nutrition which is mainly milk and organic foods.

Cattle of the Dinka Tribe
Cattle of the Dinka Tribe

The Dinka are famously known for keeping large herds of cattle. The children in the Dinka community are taught to have a close relationship with the cattle when they are young. From the start of the day they start with the milking of the cattle and in the evening they ensure that the cattle are groomed. The Dinka take their cattle to the riverine in the Nike for four months where they graze them and even sleep with them at night. The younger boys tie the cattle around the fire which keeps the mosquitoes away due to smoke.

What Is Important To The Dinka People?

Spirituality is greatly cherished by the Dinka People. The Dinka believe in a supreme being called Nhiali who is respected by the people. The people also believe in ancestral spirits which are said to offer protection to the people, increase land productivity and also increase their cattle. The spirits could be appeased when someone did good and brought forth great returns. In other times, it was believed that when someone did something wrong the spirits could be angered and bring misfortune. Some mediators intervened between the people and the spirits. They also believed that there were people with unique powers who could do evil in the community. 

Songs and dances in the Dinka community were very vital. The songs sung mostly depended on the occasion at hand. There could be birth songs, marriage songs or even funeral songs. The mood of the song depended on the reason for the song. Drums were incorporated when singing and dancing in the community. On most occasions when the singing and dancing went on the people mimicked the cattle.

The food eaten by the Dinka remains to be very important. Since the Dinka were cattle herders, they practised pastoralism and later on slaughtered the animals to get meat. Apart from herding the Dinka also did some fishing and hunting. Of all the foods that the Dinka are, the millet was the major food eaten. With the millet, the Dinka could add up with other alternative foods like meat, milk and fish.

The rites of passage in Dinka were treated with great importance. The rites of passage started from the birth of someone to the time the person does. All the ceremonies are filled with celebration as they mark a new beginning. When marking the passage to adulthood the young men were always identified by the community and had deep permanent marks in the head. 

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