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THE DINKA PEOPLE

The largest ethnic tribe in southern Sudan, the Dinka are primarily a pastoral people, relying on cattle herding at riverside camps in the dry season and growing millet, grains, peanuts, beans, corn and other crops during the rainy season. Women do most of the agriculture, but men clear the forest for gardening sites. The boys tend goats and sheep while the men are responsible for the cattle, which are central to the culture.  

Although girls learn to cook, boys do not and in fact, “Lost Boy” Daniel Pach makes a joke about having to hide his cooking equipment while in the Kakuma refugee camp among so many Dinka men. Cooking is done outdoors in pots over a stone hearth.  Women also weave baskets and make pottery.  Men, on the other hand, are responsible for fishing, cattle herding and periodic hunting. The basic Dinka diet is centered around heavy millet porridge, eaten with milk or with a vegetable and spice sauce.  

The Dinka expect an individual to be generous to others in order to achieve status in the society.  They base their life on values of honor and dignity, choosing to discuss and solve their problems in public forums. Their primary art forms are poetry and song, which communicate their history and social identity.  They sing praise songs to their ancestors and the living.

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