Dinka people are a Nilotic ethnic group native to South Sudan, the Dinka originated from the Gezira currently referred to as Sudan. They commonly refer to themselves as Muonyjang (singular) and Jieng (plural). Dinka people are considered the tallest African tribe while men are measuring an average of 6 feet, 4 inches – 193 cm, and women 6 feet – 182 cm on average.
There is no centralized political authority in the Dinka tribe, instead, they comprise many independent but interlinked clans. Most of these clans traditionally provide ritual chiefs also known as the “Master of the Fishing Spear”, who provide leadership for the entire people and appear to be hereditary. They have village elders who preside over tribal issues rather than wielding power and authority.
The Dinka are traditionally cattle herders who use cattle for various practical purposes and are also a livelihood source. In as much as cattle are used in a variety of ways, they are not killed for meat except in case of a sacrifice or natural death. Cattle are used as a measure of wealth in the community.
In the Dinka culture, they find it important to be familiar with their family’s heritage as some families are not allowed to cross-marry with one another due to inner conflict. As a male, having sons is important to carry on their family’s lineage.
The Dinka people have a culture of scarring their bodies as a full-blown right of passage into their clans. For an adolescent, a rite of passage is done into manhood, and a series of V-shaped scars is carved into a boy’s forehead which marks a specific region. These boys are considered men, or Parapuol, which occurs between the ages of 10-16. The culture of skin scarification tells a story of personal bravery in the face of extreme pain, as well as where a particular individual belongs.
The scarring patterns are different as they are associated with different clan ties. In female individuals, these scars can signify physical beauty, and scars from their forehead to their liver areas can be regarded as symbols of fertility, good health, eyesight, and increased resistance to headaches. The symbolic scarring of the Dinka people defines them.
During the rituals, the boy recites the names of his ancestors and sings clan songs in order to properly prepare his mind, body, and spirit for becoming a man. In the fleshing-carving ritual done by razor edge, individuals who show no emotion like crying and screaming are seen as worthy members of the group. This ritual is a test of courage to fill a man’s role and responsibilities in the group.
So also, if a participant breaks this silence, they find themselves a great deal of face in the community and they find themselves having their responsibilities given to tougher and braver individuals in the community. In the Dinka culture, the brave always find a pivotal role in society and the weak do not find this same recognition.
Dinka women prefer warriors who have the scars of the Parapuol; the Dinka are great lovers of tradition.