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Geographically, the Kakwa occupy a vast administrative area of Yei and Morobo in South Sudan. They also extend to parts of Congo and Uganda. In Uganda they are found in the extreme North of West Nile, Koboko district. In Koboko, Kakwa land consist mainly of flat open plateaus with stretches of land crossed by the main river (kaya) at the border of Koboko with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) drawing through Koboko district eastward to the River Nile. While on the side of Sudan, the area has some long ranges of hills with slightly bushy, thick tropical rain forests and fertile agricultural lands. Since the soil, people expect rain often with very reliable seasons.

The Kakwa people hail from Yei Region of the present Central Equatoria State. The Kakwa are Bari-speaking as well. They live in the Yei area but also in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were broken into these three countries by the colonial rulers interests. But they continue to co-exist because of cultural and traditional relationships. This coexistence is known as " Salia Musala" which means Tripartite relationship. 

There are two main traditions concerning the origin of the Kakwa. One tradition asserts that the ancestor of the Kakwa was Yeki who lived in the Karobe Hill in the area south of present Juba. Yeki is said to have produced 7 sons; one of whom was fond of biting his brothers. For this reason, Yeki is said to have nicknamed him ''Kakwan ji'' meaning bitter. The descendants of Yeki are said to have adapted the plural term and called themselves Kakwa.

The second tradition claims that the Kakwa were originally known as ''Kui''. The Kui are said to have been fierce fighters who inflicted heavy losses on their enemies. For this reason, the Kui are said to have nicknamed themselves Kakwa because their fierce attacks were like the bite of a tooth, probably the reason for teeth sharpening tradition.

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