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    Titi Ibrahim


      The Bari of the Nile are sedentary agro-pastoralist. They exploit the savanna lands along the river Nile, and up to 40 miles east and west of the Nile. The Bari is a tribe of Karo, Nilotic people inhabiting South Sudan. The Bari speaks the Bari language as a mother tongue, which belongs to the Nilotic family.




      The people of Bari often used intermarriage to form bonds between two families. These arrangements were sometimes made while they were young but the bride price was not necessarily paid till the parties involved reached marrying age. Recently though, a marriage now involves a period of courtship that is followed by the consent of the families involved.




      After this courtship period, the male suitor declares his intent to marry by presenting himself at the house of the girl’s parents. He is usually accompanied by few close relatives and friends. This is called Nyara.




      Just before the wedding ceremony, the families meet at the bride’s parent’s house to negotiate the bride price. The parents of both parties are usually not directly involved in the negotiations, although they may be involved behind the scenes.




      As a result of the people of Bari being Agro-pastoralists, traditionally, the bride price is usually paid in form of animals. A typical bride price includes two dozen cattle and 40 head of sheep and goats.




      In the case of a natural disaster or drought, when getting livestock may be difficult, then a bride price in the form of cash can also be accepted. If the groom or his family behaves in a way considered disrespectful, the bride price may be increased. This disrespectful behavior includes but is not limited to premarital sex, eloping, and aggression toward the in-laws.




      Once the negotiations are successful, both families bless the marriage and commence a feast that involves drinking and dancing. After the feast, the bridegroom returns home alone, but after about two weeks, the bride arrives to take charge of her house.




      For the Bari who has converted to Christianity, an additional step occurs wherein the marriage also receives a church blessing. Ideally, this would occur before the husband and wife begin living together. However, because of the financial burden of having both a Bari traditional wedding feast and a Christian wedding ceremony, the trend has been to first have the traditional feast and then put off the Christian wedding for a year or longer while the couple saves up money for the occasion.

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